Monday, January 30, 2023

'59 Comeback Special

This morning I helped brew the 1959 version of Peoples Bock with Jody Cleveland and Mark Stanek of Bare Bones Brewery.

Jody Cleveland (left) and Mark Stanek, working up a double mash for Peoples Bock.

We used the original recipe given to me by Wilhelm Kohlhoff who was a lead brewers at Peoples in the 1950 and 1960s. We also stayed true to the process, using a traditional, American double mash with a grist that included corn grits.

The beer will be released at Bare Bones at some point in March. I’ll have a post here as soon as the release date is set. More to come…

Sunday, January 29, 2023

A Brand Bar in Columbus

Here’s an Oshkosh native now residing in the taproom at Cercis Brewing in Columbus.

That bar and back bar have all the distinct markings of the tavern furniture made by Robert Brand and Sons in the 1930s and 1940s. Brand and Sons was a woodworking company that was in operation from the 1860s into the 1960s on Ceape Avenue in Oshkosh. Brand was famous for its saloon furniture and fixtures.

The bar at Cercis Brewing used to be at Recreation Lanes, a bowling alley that opened on South Main Street in the fall of 1939. The bar was still there when Rec Lanes closed in 2017.

From Oshkosh it went to Columbus where the restored bar is now the centerpiece of the tap room at Cercis Brewing. The Art Deco design is as eye-catching as ever. I’m glad it found a good home.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Since 1864...

When you see brewery advertising based on history, you can bet it’s probably going to be bullshit. This one, from 1992, is full of it.

Chief Oshkosh Red Lager had absolutely no connection to the Chief Oshkosh brand produced by the Oshkosh Brewing Company. And the “Since 1864” thing is entirely off the mark. 

The first Chief Oshkosh, a non-alcoholic beer made by the Oshkosh Brewing Company, wasn’t introduced until 1928. It became an alcoholic beer at the end of Prohibition in 1933 and was discontinued altogether in 1972. 

Chief Oshkosh Red Lager was introduced in 1991 by Mid-coast Brewing, an Oshkosh-based company, that made its beer at the Stevens Point brewery. That said, it was good beer for the short time it lasted. Chief Oshkosh Red Lager came to an end in 1994.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Where to Get the Goods in 1994

 Back in the 1990s the Society of Oshkosh Brewers used to publish a list of places in the area that served what was then called micro-brew. Here’s one of those lists from almost 30 years ago. This is from the SOBs’ December 1994 Brewsletter. Only two of these places remain. 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

The Oshkosh Beer Timeline

I just finished redesigning and completing another round of updates to the Oshkosh Beer Timeline, a portal into the history of beer and brewing in Oshkosh. I launched the site in 2011, and it's now the most comprehensive source for anything relating to Oshkosh's beer-soaked past. You can check it out here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

The “Not Really a Bottle” Collector

Johanna Guderjahn stood beside what was obviously a bottle collection and said, “This is not really a bottle collection.” The Oshkosh Northwestern discovered this extraordinary woman in Waukau in 1955. And in December of that year the paper published a brief article about her and her fascination with unusual bottles.

Johanna Guderjahn with her bottles, Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, December 28, 1955.

Johanna began collecting bottles in 1945 after she and her husband, Emil, found a pair of “ancient stoneware bottles” while digging the basement for their Waukau home. Emil did not encourage Johanna’s passion for bottles. He said the last thing she needed was another collection. She persisted nonetheless. 

Her non-collection grew to include an array of obscure relics; not the least of which was “a cache of beer bottles bearing labels that were practically a roster of old-time Oshkosh breweries – all valuable as history and all a variety of shapes.” Unfortunately, it all seems to have been lost. Johanna Guderjahn died in Omro in 1996. She was 95 years old. And by then, her “not really a bottle collection” was just a dim, distant memory.