Thursday, March 22, 2018


“Oshkosh brewery and factory whistles expended several thousand pounds of steam in announcing that legal beer will be available within 15 days.”

Oshkosh Brewing Co.

March 22, 1933
More than eight months before the repeal of Prohibition, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Beer and Wine Revenue Act. Beginning on April 7, 1933, the new law would allow for the sale, manufacture, and transport of beer that was 4% ABV or less. Oshkosh rejoiced. Here’s the full report from the evening edition of the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of March 22, 1933.

A half holiday will be declared for Oshkosh on the day that beer can again be sold legally, Mayor T.G. Brown announced today.

He asserted the holiday will start at 12 o'clock noon, in order that Oshkosh may celebrate the return of what he termed one of its major industries in the reopening of its breweries, of which there are three busily preparing for the great occasion.

“I am calling a holiday, not only because people want good whole-some beer at a moderate price and the government needs the revenue but, because this marks the return of one of the Oshkosh major industries.

"This will employ men locally, has already resulted in expenditure of money, and it, also will supply a market for the farmer’s grain in this vicinity. Thus it is a benefit not only to industry but to agriculture and will furnish, in some measure the relief to agriculture which must form a basis of any sound recovery."

The mayor stated the city has under consideration regulatory local measures for the present soft drink parlors, automatically to become "taverns." He said he is under the impression the state will give considerable leeway to the local governments in this matter.

The city executive obtained actual facts and figures from the local breweries as to the effect of the change in law upon their operations.

The Peoples Brewing company, he said, informed him 20 to 25 men will be hired, 40,000 to 50,000 bushels of barley will be consumed in a year, and about $40,000 already has been expended for new equipment. The Oshkosh Brewing company reported it will hire 50 to 75 men has expended between $30,000 and $40,000 for new equipment.

The Oshkosh Brewing company reported it will hire 50 to 75 men, has expended between $30,000 and $40,000 on new equipment, and will use 60,000 to 80,000 bushels of grain.

The Rahr Brewing company will hire 12 to 15 men and. will use nearly 50,000 bushels of grain a year, they have estimated. They are expending $25,000 in new equipment.

Oshkosh brewery and factory whistles expended several thousand pounds of steam in announcing that legal beer will be available within 15 days. News of the signing of the beer bill was received by The Northwestern at 1:03 p.m. and the message was promptly relayed.
     – Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, March 22, 1933

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

HighHolder Brewing Company of Oshkosh

March 21, 1894. That was the last time Oshkosh had four breweries. Today, there are four breweries here again. HighHolder Brewing Company of Oshkosh, Wisconsin is up and running.

HighHolder brews have made a couple of previous, albeit brief appearances recently, but this past weekend the beer became more widely available. On Friday, HighHolder’s Bloody Sixth Irish Red Ale went on tap at both O'Marro's Public House and The Roxy.

HighHolder is the brainchild of Mike Schlosser and Shawn O'Marro. “We started this idea like 10 years ago,” says Schlosser. "We were really naive.”

Shawn O'Marro (left) and Mike Schlosser

After a name change, a muddle of lawyers, and a tangle of permitting issues, HighHolder received the final piece of its licensing puzzle in February. The brewery is located in the suite behind O'Marro's at 2211 Oregon Street in the Lake Aire Center.

HighHolder becomes Oshkosh's first nano-brewery. Schlosser designed and built the brewery’s one-barrel system. "What we’re trying to do is proof of concept,” says O'Marro. "If this works out the way we think it will, then we’ll take it the next level."

For now, O'Marro's Public House is your best bet for finding HighHolder beer. The next beer up will be a German Altbier. Once the brewery settles into a consistent production schedule, its beers will likely begin pouring in other Oshkosh area bars. Don’t wait for that. Get it now!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Miller's Famous Bock Beer

On this day in 1905...

The Miller bottling plant was near the SW corner of Market and Pearl Streets; about where City Center now is. J.C. Voss was elected mayor of Oshkosh in 1909.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A Colorful Past #2

Here’s more from Oshkosh artist Paul Nickolai, who has taken a series of vintage Oshkosh brewery photos and added new life to them. This is the second installment of photos. The first can be seen here. Let’s get on with this.

Here’s the Rahr Brewing Company of Oshkosh at the turn of the century.

And here’s the Rahr brewery some 40 years later. Demolition of this brewery began in 1964.

Long gone is the old Gambrinus Brewery that once towered over Harney Avenue. It was torn down in 1914.

This next one goes back even further. The original Horn & Schwalm Brooklyn Brewery was built on Doty Street in 1865. It was destroyed by fire in 1879.

Further south was the Glatz Brewery at the end of Doty Street. Glatz Park is there now. Here’s the Glatz staff with one of the brewery’s beer rolls. The Glatz Brewery was taken down in 1915.

That’s all for this time. But there’s more to come. Thanks, Paul!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Winn. Co. Brewing History Talk

There are reasons I've been so negligent in getting anything posted here. In addition to writing that damned book about the history of brewing in Winnebago County, I've been preparing for talks that I scheduled before agreeing to write that damned book. A couple weeks ago, I gave a talk for Learning In Retirement about the history of Prohibition in Oshkosh. That one wasn't open to the public. This next one is.

On Tuesday, February 20, I'll be talking about the history of Brewing in Winnebago County. It begins at 6:30 p.m. in Reeve Union Theater on the UW-Oshkosh Campus. This presentation is free and open to the public. There's more info here. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

When Inky Drank Beer

Clarence “Inky” Jungwirth died January 21, 2018. After digesting that news, I thought about how much I enjoyed the time I spent talking with him. I wish there had been more.

I first met Inky in 2010. It was shortly after I started this blog. I contacted him to tell him how much I liked his books. I told him what I was doing. I said if he ever felt like writing anything about beer, I’d be happy to post it here. He invited me to his home.

My wife and I went to see him on a warm Saturday at the start of summer. The first thing I asked was how he got his nickname. I worked in printing. I thought with a nickname like Inky maybe he had too. “No,” he said laughing. “I was so small as a kid they called me incubator baby. They shortened it to Inky.” After that, practically all we ever talked about was beer.

“I just loved beer," he told me. “The local beers were the best!” He grew up next door to Steckbauer's tavern. He said that was his usual place. But he added, “I’ve been in every tavern in Oshkosh.”

Inky, on the left, having a beer at Steckbauer's. Mid-1950s.

"Beer drinkers of my generation tended to stick with one brand of beer," Inky said. "You’d stick to the beer that satisfied you.” His favorite was Chief Oshkosh out of the eight-ounce Cub bottle. He said something to the effect that the small bottle made him look bigger. He laughed at that idea

By the time I met him, Inky wasn't drinking beer anymore. He was 90 then. At that point, he hadn't had a beer in 20 years. But he still seemed to relish his memories of it.

"My uncles got me drunk for the first time when I was 12," he said shaking his head and laughing. He talked about his grandpa and uncles. How they made beer in their basements during Prohibition. He said their homebrew was his first taste of beer.

I asked him if it would be okay to record him talking about this stuff. He was for it. He told all kinds of stories. I liked the ones that were slightly crude. One of those was about his uncles delivering beer in growlers to Oshkosh factory workers in the 1920s. I put the audio of Inky telling that story into a video.

After our first conversation at his home, Inky and I talked on the phone from time to time. He'd call from his office at Oshkosh Truck. He said he was thinking about writing a short history of beer. I said if he'd write it I'd post it on the blog. In June 2010, he sent me A Brief History of Beer by Clarence “Inky” Jungwirth.

Inky had an idea for another blog post. It was about when he was in the army in 1944 and got beer for Christmas. He titled that one Beer for Christmas By Clarence "Inky" Jungwirth.

Inky, 1944.
Last January I finally got around to putting together another short video with narration by Inky. This one was about beer and homebrewing in Oshkosh during Prohibition.

A couple years ago, I met up with Inky at an event for the Winnebago County Historical Society. I mentioned that there was a new brewery trying to get started on the south side. That it was going to be named HighHolder Brewing. "Good, Good!" he said. He like that reference to the Highholders. They were beer-loving immigrants who lived in the old “Bloody 6th Ward” where Inky grew up.

On the day Inky died, HighHolder Brewing came out with the new logo it plans to use. It's an image of a boy totting a couple growlers of beer, just like Inky had talked about his uncles doing.

At that time, I didn't know Inky had passed. I downloaded the logo to my phone. I was going to show it to him the next time we met. That won't happen now. But I'm sure Inky would have loved it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Return of Adler Brau Beer

For those of us who prefer out history wet... This Friday, January 26, Stone Arch Brewpub in Appleton is releasing a recreation of the 1946 version of Adler Brau Beer.

Adler Brau was the flagship beer of Appleton’s George Walter Brewing Company. It was first brewed in the early 1900s. The beer was a mainstay in the Fox Valley until the brewery closed in 1972.

Now it’s back. At least for a little while. This version is a one-off, 7-barrel batch brewed in commemoration of George Walter’s 170th birthday. The beer will be available Friday beginning at 4:30 pm at the pub and in a limited run of four-packs (scratch that, they've decided because of the limited run to sell single bottles, only).

To whet your appetite, check out this history of the George Walter Brewing Company. The Author of the article, Brian Zenefski, is also the guy who discovered the 1946 recipe Stone Arch used. I’ve had a look at the recipe. It’s in-line with the sort of pale lagers being brewed before Prohibition. Should be an interesting beer.

Post-Release Update...

I don’t normally post updates to beer events, but this one came off so well I thought I should make mention of it. The highlight was that so many members of the Walter family came out for it. Here they are enjoying an evening and beer in honor of their forbear George Walter.