All posts for the month December, 2015

Old_Lansing 1890

Lansing in 1890

Recently a friend asked a question concerning the location of a brewery on South Washington Avenue. To be honest, I was unaware that a brewery ever existed on South Washington so I decided ask Jim in regards to what breweries existed in Lansing prior to the Lansing Brewing Company, founded in 1898, and where were these early breweries located. Little did I know that he had worked on this question for a book on that he and Craig were considering writing on the History of Michigan Breweries prior to Prohibition. Here is an excerpt from their research.

Just a short note before we begin. There is a lack of bottles and ephemera that survived from these local breweries. Why? Well prior to 1890 breweries handled their beer differently than they do today. The simple explanation is that brewer’s kegged beer and bottlers bottled the beer. A brewery was prohibited from bottling their beer onsite. Brewers were taxed on the number of barrels of beer produced because it was easier for the Internal Revenue Service, and bottling onsite was verboten. Breweries paid the tax, then sent the barrels to an independent bottler or set up a separate bottling plant off site from the brewery. All this changed when the Pabst Brewery lobbied its congressman to modify the law.  The Ferment Liquors Act of June 18, 1890, revised the law. Simply, in Lansing when beer was bottled it was done independently of the brewery. So in the years 1863 to 1890 a bottle that survived has the name of the bottler not the brewery. Additionally the top seal for a bottle, a crown cork or crown cap was not developed until 1892 when William Painter patented his idea. This is what we know today as the twenty-one teeth (ridges) of a beer cap. What this means is there is little that survived from these breweries in the way of ephemera. If you do find anything, consider purchasing it but keep in mind it may be a reproduction.


Weinmann Brewery (1856-1873)

Weinmann Brewery

North East Corner Pine and Maple Streets 1873

The first brewery established in Lansing was the Weinmann (Weimanns) Beer Garden (Biergarten), which operated between 1856-1878 and was located on the North East corner of Pine and Maple Streets. Frederick and Anna Weinmann owned the Beer Garden.[1] There has been quite a bit of misinformation concerning the operation of the Weinmann Beer Garden, the first being in the true sense in was not a full-scale brewery. It was more like todays brew pubs, think Midtown Brewing Company rather than Bell’s Brewery. A beer garden produced only enough beer to meet the needs of its clientele and did not manufacture beer for distribution to off-site retailers. The second myth is that Abigail and Delia Rogers, proprietors of the Michigan Female College, forced the closure of the Beer Garden. David Votta successfully dismissed this legend in his paper Pioneer Brewing, where he verified that the Beer Garden was operating well after the death of Abigail Rogers and the demise of the Michigan Female College. [2] The precise date when Frederick sold the Beer Garden to Augustus Galler is unknown but is seems to have occurred between 1873 and 1874. The Beer Garden disappeared from all records in 1878 and no images or ephemera survived.

Frederick Weinmann passed away from dropsy at his farm six miles northwest of Lansing on November 12, 1878. (LRTW 11/15/1878) Frederick’s wife Anna was born in Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany on February 21, 1830. In 1855 Anna came to the United States and settled with her brother Jacob Seeger (Seager or Seiger) in Lansing. Oddly enough Anna may have been a distant cousin of the Rogers sisters, which may help explain the location of the Beer Garden. Shortly after her arrival in Lansing, Anna married Frederick Weinman. Anna passed away on March 3, 1914. (LSJ 3/6/1914)


Galler & Reber Brewery (1875)

The County Atlas of Ingham, Michigan 1874 not only contained the map shown here of the Weimanns Brewery on Pine and Maple Streets but also a description of the brewery under the management of Galler & Reber, which placed the date of the sale of the Brewery from Weinmann to August Galler and Jacob Reber in 1873. One year later in 1874 August Galler began construction of a brewery on South Washington Avenue that he sold in 1875 to Adam Foester. (Durant, 140) Just where the brewery was located on South Washington is a bit of a mystery. The Lansing City Directory from 1878 placed its location at Hazel and Elizabeth Streets, Elizabeth was the old name for Washington Avenue south of the Grand River Bridge. Durant placed the location of the brewery just north of Grand Trunk Railroad Line, while an article in the State Republican sited the brewery’s location on the Oviatt Property, the south half of Lots 1-4, Block 195 and in 1886 the site of the Lansing Street Railway Company Car Barns. Today the address is 1114 S. Washington Avenue.[3] Galler & Reber continued to operate the Beer Gardens in North Lansing until 1878, when the business ceased operations. There is a census record for August Galler in 1880 where he is listed as a laborer, but Jacob Reber has vanished from all records.

Next Jacob Weber Brewery and City Brewery

[1] State Republican 5/8/1886

[2] Listed in the 1856-1857 Michigan Gazetteer as Frederick Weiman, his death notice list Wineman other sources listed Weimanns.

[3] David Votta has graciously agreed to allow his paper Pioneer Brewery to be reproduced at the end of this paper.

© Lost Lansing 2015