Monday, May 4, 2020

The Longevity of Oshkosh Breweries

Breweries come and go. In Oshkosh, we have 171 years of brewing history that hammers that point home.

The demolition of Peoples Brewing, July 1974.

What follows is an illustrated list of every Oshkosh brewery ranked in order of their longevity. If you want to dig deeper, I've added links at the bottom of the post that will lead to much more information on all of the breweries mentioned here. Off we go...

1. Rahr Brewing Company, 1865–1956
The Rahr Brewing Company is Oshkosh’s longest-lived brewery having remained in operation for 91 years. Located at the end of Rahr Avenue on the shore of Lake Winnebago, Rahr remained a small, family-owned business throughout its history.

The Rahr Brewing Company, late 1800s.

2. Oshkosh Brewing Company, 1894–1971
Located at what is now 1642 Doty Street, Oshkosh Brewing was in business for 77 years. OBC was formed in 1894 by the merger of the Horn and Schwalm, Glatz, and Kuenzl (Gambrinus) breweries.

The Oshkosh Brewing Company, circa 1918.

3. Peoples Brewing Company, 1913–72
Peoples Brewing was initiated by a group of Oshkosh saloon keepers and lasted 59 years. The brewery was located at what is now 1512 South Main Street.

Peoples Brewing Company shortly after it closed in 1972.

4. Horn and Schwalm’s Brooklyn Brewery, 1866–94
This brewery was launched by German immigrants August Horn and Leonhardt Schwalm. It remained an independent entity for 28 years and was located at what is now 1630–70 Doty Street.

Horn & Schwalm's original Brooklyn Brewery; destroyed by fire in 1878.

5. Franz Wahle/ John Glatz Union Brewery, 1867–94
The brewery at the end of Doty Street was privately owned and operated for 27 years before becoming part of the Oshkosh Brewing Company in 1894.

The John Glatz Union Brewery.

6. Loescher’s (First) Oshkosh Brewery, 1852–78
The first of two breweries George Loescher and his family operated in Oshkosh was in business for 26 years. It was located at what is now 1253–83 Bay Shore Drive.

Detail of an 1858 map showing the location of Loescher’s first Oshkosh Brewery.

7. The Gambrinus Brewery, 1868–94
The large brewery at what is now 1239–47 Harney Avenue lasted for 26 years. It was first run by Gottlieb Ecke and later by Lorenz Kuenzl. It merged into the Oshkosh Brewing Company in 1894.

The Gambrinus Brewery circa 1893.

8. Fox River Brewing Company, established 1995
Welcome to the modern era. Fox River is now in its 25th year of operation.

Fox River Brewing Company, Oshkosh.

9. Busch Brewery/Fifth Ward Brewery, 1858–1880
For 22 years, Christian Kaehler ran this brewery at the southeast corner of Algoma Boulevard and Vine Avenue. The land it occupied is now part of the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh campus.

Oshkosh City Directory, 1872.

10. The Lake Brewery, 1849–68
Oshkosh's first brewery was launched by German immigrant Jacob Konrad. It remained in operation for 19 years. The brewery stood on the east side of Lake Street, just south of Ceape Avenue.

1858 map showing location of the Lake Brewery.

11. Loescher’s (Second) Oshkosh Brewery, 1880–89
The second brewery operated by George Loescher and his family remained in business for nine years. This brewery was at the northeast corner of Frankfort Street and Bay Shore Drive.

Loescher’s second Oshkosh Brewery shown in an 1885 insurance map.

12. Bare Bones Brewery, established 2015
The brewery at 4362 County Highway S has been a going concern for five years now.

Bare Bones Brewery upon its opening in June of 2015.

13. Leonard Schiffmann’s White Beer Brewery, 1875-1879
This weiss-beer brewery was active for four years at what is now 1864 Doty Street.

A stoneware bottle used by the Schiffmann Brewery in the late 1870s.

14. Mid-Coast Brewing Company, 1991–95
The maker of Chief Oshkosh Red Lager was active for four years. The brewery's office was located at 35 Wisconsin Street in Oshkosh. Its beer was brewed on contract at the Stevens Point Brewery.

15. Joseph Schussler’s Oshkosh Brewery, 1849–52
Schussler opened Oshkosh's second brewery in the fall of 1849. Three years later he went bankrupt and the brewery closed. This brewery was on the south side of Bay Shore Drive, midway between Bowen and Frankfort Streets.

An 1890s drawing of Joseph Schussler.

16. Leonard Arnold Brewery, approximately 1875–78
Arnold ran this obscure beer and vinegar brewery for approximately three years. His plant was at the southeast corner of Sixteenth Avenue and South Main Street.

1600 South Main Street today. The former site of Leonard Arnold’s brewery.

17. Frederick Voelkel Brewery, late 1870s.
Voelkel was a saloon owner who ran a weiss beer brewery from his home for about three years. His base of operations was at the northwest corner of Doty Street and West Seventeenth Avenue.

The location of the Voelkel shown in blue on Doty Street near the Horn & Schwalm Brewery.

18. Fifth Ward Brewing Company, established 2017
A relative newcomer, Fifth Ward opened its brewery at 1009 South Main Street three years ago. 

September 2017. Zach Clark (left) and Ian Wenger of Fifth Ward in their new brewery.

19. Fischer and Weist, 1856–1858
This brewery, initiated by German immigrants Tobias Fischer and August Weist, remained active just two years. It was located near the southwest corner of High and New York Avenues.

The red dot indicates the approximate location of where the Fischer and Weist Brewery stood.

20. HighHolder Brewing Company, established 2018
HighHolder began distributing its beer two years ago. The brewery operates, albeit sporadically, from a suite behind O'Marro's Public House at 2211 Oregon Street.

Shawn O'Marro (left) and Mike Schlosser of HighHolder, shortly before the brewery opened.

21. Rudolph Otten Brewery, 1865
Almost nothing is known of Rudolph Otten's brewery. It appears to have lasted for less than a year. The brewery may have been located on Oxford Avenue.

An 1867 drawing showing what may have been the location of Otten’s brewery on Oxford Street.
To learn more about any of these breweries, visit the Oshkosh Beer Timeline. You can also search the individual breweries using the “Search The Oshkosh Beer Blog” tool that appears in the left-hand panel. If you’re on a phone, you’ll need to be in full website mode to access that feature.

If you want to pinpoint the exact location of any brewery mentioned here, this interactive map will show you the way. 

Finally, the above list doesn’t include the wildcat breweries that operated in Oshkosh during Prohibition. You can go here to tour that byway of Oshkosh brewing history.

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