Monday, April 7, 2014

A Beer, a Glass, and a Bar

If you had walked into August Witzke’s Oregon St. saloon one hundred years ago and ordered a bottle of beer, you would have met with this attractive label. In 1914, the Oshkosh Brewing Company began bottling their beer under this label to commemorate their 50th year of making beer (actually they were off by a couple of years, but we’ll let that slide).

The bottle would have been handed over the bar to you by August “Fuddy” Witzke who just that year had become proprietor of the saloon. He would have given you an “Oshkosh” because it was the only beer Fuddy sold. His saloon had been built by the Oshkosh Brewing Company in 1902 and in 1914 the brewery still owned the property. Fuddy Witzke’s place was a tied-house, meaning he had an agreement with the owners of the property to sell no beer other than theirs. Fuddy would have probably offered to pour that beer into a glass that looked something like this.

Witzke’s is still there at the corner of Oregon and 17th street and the name of the original owner of the property remains on the building. Fuddy Witzke died in 1969. Two years later, the brewery that put him in business failed. After all these years, it’s good to see that their names remained tied together.

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