Monday, April 11, 2016

Bottling Schlitz in Oshkosh

In last week’s post about the Schlitz blitz in Oshkosh I mentioned the extensive bottling plant Schlitz built at what is now Commerce Street between Pearl and High. This week, I want to take a look at the folks who were running it and some of the bottles that came out of the place.

First, let’s get our bearings. If you were to head over to Commerce Street today searching for the Schlitz bottling plant, here’s what you’d see. The bottling plant was located just about smack dab in the middle of the building where 4 imprint is located.

Here again, is the 1903 map I posted last week showing the layout of the Schlitz facility.

The Schlitz bottling plant was completed in 1891. Schlitz would send wooden kegs full of beer by train to Oshkosh where the local plant manager was responsible for getting it into bottles. Often those bottles were imprinted with the name of the man running the plant.

Charles Maulick
The first manager of the Schlitz branch in Oshkosh was Charles Maulick. He also ran the Schlitz Beer Hall (now Oblio’s Lounge) during this period at what is now 432-434 N. Main Street. Here are a couple of the early bottles that came out of the Schlitz bottle works in Oshkosh.

Next, we have something incredibly rare. In fact, it may be one of a kind. This is a recently discovered bottle from the Maulick era embossed with the Schlitz name. The green/blue tint is caused by iron in the sand from which the bottle was made. These bottles weren’t used long by Schlitz. After the turn of the century, the brewery used brown bottles exclusively for its beer to “Protect its purity.”

Here’s the stopper used to cork that bottle. It’s imprinted with the Charles Maulick logo.

Peter Henrichs
Maulick bailed on the bottling business either in the latter half of 1898 or early 1899. He was succeeded as Schlitz’s primary Oshkosh agent by a man named Peter Henrichs. Though Henrichs appears to have run the plant for a year or more, I’ve neither seen nor heard of any bottles bearing his name.

Louis Plate
By 1902, Plate had assumed bottling operations for Schlitz in Oshkosh. This was a heady period for Schlitz. It had just surpassed Pabst as the largest brewery in the world, producing more than 1 million barrels of beer annually. Here’s an ad from May 1902 featuring the Schlitz man in Oshkosh.

By 1903, Plate had left the bottling plant to run Schlitz Hall at the corner of State and Washington streets in Oshkosh. Bottles embossed with his name are exceedingly rare. Here’s one that’s in great shape.

Emil Thom
Lifelong Oshkosh resident, Emil Thom took over the Schlitz branch after Plate departed. The first notices for Thom as the Schlitz agent began appearing in 1903. Here’s an attractive ad for Schlitz that ran in the Oshkosh Northwestern during Thom’s tenure. You’ll notice his name at the bottom.

A couple of Thom bottles filled in Oshkosh and embossed with his name.

William F. Ganzer
By 1908, William Ganzer was running the Schlitz branch here. He remained at the helm longer than any of his predecessors. The onset of Prohibition cost him his job.

Here’s an ad from 1913 when Ganzer was peddling Schlitz (you’ll see his name near the bottom). In this one, Schlitz is trash talking the John Gund Brewing Company of La Crosse for its use of clear bottles.

A couple of nice looking Ganzer bottles, brown of course.

Schlitz shuttered its Oshkosh branch just prior to Prohibition beginning in 1920. The property was sold by the brewery in 1928. When Prohibition ended in 1933, Schlitz beer returned to Oshkosh. But it was no longer bottled here. Gone were the days of the Schlitz agent roaming the city on a clattering wagon packed with blob-top bottles of beer filled in Oshkosh.

Thanks, in a big way, to Bob Bergman and Steve Schrage for help with this post. Their input was invaluable.


  1. Fine grouping of Schlitz embossed bottles used by Oshkosh bottlers. Maulick crown top bottles are pretty hard to find. Ganzer botttles come in clear glass as well as amber.Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge of Oshkosh's brewing and bottling history.It would be awesome to see a book solely devoted to the subject of Oshkosh bottlers and their bottles.

    1. Thanks, Bob, maybe one day you, Steve and I can collaborate something like that.

  2. I don't think I have ever seen bottles like that. Thanks Lee.

    1. It amazes me that any of these managed to survive. When you hear the stories about where some of these were found, it's hard to believe that they remained in one piece.