Monday, October 18, 2010

The End of the Oshkosh Brewing Company

Photo by John Marx
Today marks the beginning of a bleak week in the annals of Oshkosh brewing history. It was during this week in 1971 that word began to spread that the Oshkosh Brewing Company had stopped making beer. The Company was tight-lipped about exactly what was going on, but reports had begun to circulate that brewing operations had ceased and that delivery trucks were being stored in a locked garage. Harold Kriz, president and general manager of the big brewery on Doty Street, wouldn’t comment other than to say an announcement on future plans would be made in the coming weeks. Theodore Mack, the president of Peoples Brewing and neighbor to the Oshkosh Brewing Company plant, was asked by the Daily Northwestern if he knew what was going on and replied "I think they've got something doing over there, but I don't know what it is.” It’s entirely, likely, though, that Mack and Kriz were being coy. Within three weeks it would be announced that Peoples Brewing had made a cash purchase of the Oshkosh Brewing Company (more on that next month).

Harold Kriz would later report that Oshkosh Brewing had discontinued production on October 18, 1971 bringing to an end Oshkosh’s longest-lived brewing company. At the time of its demise, the company - in one guise or another - had been brewing beer in the city of Oshkosh for 107 years. But the previous two years had seen a brutal decline in the brewery’s output and at a time when Pabst and Schlitz were reporting double-digit growth, production at the Oshkosh brewery had fallen by more than half, to less than 20,000 barrels a year.

More than 75 years earlier, August Horn, the first president of the Oshkosh Brewing Company, had warned that the “foreign usurpation and encroachments” of the Milwaukee brewing concerns were a continuously looming threat to the brewing of beer in Oshkosh. On this day in 1971, Horn’s fears had finally come to pass.

1 comment:

  1. I have a full case of full bottles of Chief Oshkosh.
    I also have a full case of the original Adler Brau.
    These were hidden way in the back of the cooler at a restaurant that I had owned.
    The cases are not pristine, but the bottles are all full.