A Brief History of Brewing in
Fulton Avenue Brewery, Cook's,
Evansville Brewing Association, Sterling,
Turoni's Main Street
The two big breweries in
Evansville's history have a common ancestor.
Fulton Ave. Brewery
Rice & Kroener
1837 - 1853
Kroener & Son
1853 - 1877
Ulmer & Hoedt
1877 - 1881
|Jacob Rice and Fred Kroener,
established the "Old Brewery" in Evansville in 1837. This was near the
Wabash & Erie canal at the northeast corner of Fulton and Indiana.
In 1853 they split, Rice going with his
step-son, F. W. Cook, in the City Brewer (below), and Kroener keeping the
Old Brewery with his son. Peak production at this facility was 3,090 bbls.
|Ulmer & Hoedt
1881 - 1884
Ulmer, Reitman & Schulte
1884 - 1886
Fulton Avenue Brewery
1886 - 1894
|Ulmer & Hoedt built a new
brewery diagonally across the street from the Old Brewery, on the southwest
corner of Fulton and Indiana. This brewery opened in 1881.
The Fulton Ave Brewery was the site of the
first electric lights in Evansville in October 1880. Peak production was
25,000 bbls annually.
"Fulton Avenue Brewery. — A well-known building in Evansville was the
Old Brewery. This was occupied by the famous firm of Ullmer & Hoedt
from 1877 until 1881 and here they achieved for their product a
reputation unsurpassed by none. Among the consumers of malt liquors
the reputation of Evansville beer has become wide-spread and most
flattering to the manufacturers of this city. The strong points of the
product are purity, brilliancy of color, richness of flavor, and
non-liability to deterioration by climate, and in all these, the
Evansville beer is unsurpassed. The formation of this creditable
reputation is in large part due to the skill and business ability of
Messrs. Ullmer & Hoedt.
These gentlemen came
to the city in 1877 ready to begin on November 1st. They made their
first brewing on the 27th of that month, and turned out the first beer
December 31st. They prospered from the first, their product sprang at
once into popular favor, and in less than thirty months they were able
to add one of the most handsome and complete breweries in the country
to the industries of Evansville.
The members of the
firm are Charles Wilhelm Ullmer, a native of Russia, and the business
manager of the establishment, who came to this country in 1868, and
Ferdinand Hoedt, a native of Baden, who came to America in 1865. The
latter is naturally a brewer, his father and grandfather having been
in the business, and he learned his trade so thoroughly that he now
has no superior in the country, in his father's brewery at Heidelberg.
The new brewery,
which the firm has occupied for several years, is 74x116 feet, four
stories high, and fitted at a cost of $45,000 with all that science
and art has devised for the best production of the beverage under the
most healthful and attractive conditions. The brewery has a cellar
capacity of 3,000 barrels constantly on hand, and a selling capacity
of 18,000 barrels per annum. Besides the beer kettle with a capacity
of 125 barrels, there is a mash tub with a capacity of 150 barrels,
and two steam tubs of 100 and 300 barrels each.
The ice as it melts
is caught and conveyed to cisterns underneath the beer cellar, which
is 40x18 feet, and a capacity of 29,000 gallons. This establishment
maintains a large number of employees, and the weekly pay-roll is no
inconsiderable item." - History of Vanderburgh County -
Resident agents were hired in many cities
including Mt. Vernon
The Fulton Avenue Brewery is one of the
three that consolidated into the Evansville Brewing Association in 1894. The
others were John Hartmetz & Son and Evansville Brewing Co. (see
|Cook & Rice, City Brewery
1853 - 1885
F.W. Cook Brewing
1885 - 1933
F.W. Cook Company
1933 - 1955
|With $330, City
Brewery was founded by Frederick Washington Cook (right) and his stepfather,
Jacob Rice, at 11 NW 7th St. Rice managed the brewery and Cook looked after
the business details.
the brewery in 1858 including a malt house and a large lagering cellar,
having previously only made ale. By 1885 they had a capacity of 30,000 bbls.
"In 1837, Messrs. Rice and Kroener bought property in Lamasco, near
the terminus of the Wabash and Erie Canal, which was then in course of
construction, and in the same year built what is now known as the 'Old
Brewery' — the first brewery built in Evansville. Mr. Cook remained
with his parents until 1853, when he entered into a copartnership with
Louis Rice, a brother of Mr. Cook's step-father, and built the City
Brewery — the premises on which it stands then being a corn-field.
When they began business the cash capital of the firm was $330 ; Louis
Rice having saved $165 from his earnings, and Mr. Cook's father
advancing him an equal amount. Louis Rice attended to the brewing
department, and Mr. Cook to the business and financial department.
They continued together with good success, until 1857, when Louis Rice
sold his interest in the brewery to Jacob Rice, (Mr. Cook's father,)
for $3,500. The new firm commenced building a Lager Beer cellar at
once; and in 1858 made the first lager beer in Southern Indiana. In
1858, they also built an extensive malt-house." - Evansville
and Its Men of Mark - 1873
In 1872 Jacob Rice died and when Mrs. Rice
died in 1878 F. W. Cook inherited the entire business.
"F. W. Cook Brewing Co. — F. W. Cook and Louis Reis, under the firm
name of "Cook & Reis," established and built the City Brewery in 1853,
the site then being a corn-field. They continued together until 1857,
when Louis Reis sold his interest in the brewery to his brother, Jacob
Reis (the step-father of Mr. Cook), leaving the style of the firm
In 1873 Mr. Reis met
with an accident which resulted in his death, whereupon Mr. Cook
became sole proprietor. In 1885 the City Brewery was converted into a
stock company under the corporate name of F. W. Cook Brewing Co. with
the following stockholders: F. W. Cook, sr., F. W. Cook, jr., H. E.
Cook, Andrew Wollenberger, G. M. Daussman, Philip P. Puder and Gus B.
F. W. Cook, sr., F.
W. Cook, jr., H. E. Cook, Andrew Wollenberger and G. M. Daussman are
the directors of the company, and its officers are as follows: F. W.
Cook, sr., president and general manager; F. W. Cook, jr., vice
president: Andrew Wollenberger, superintendent; G.' M. Daussman,
secretary and treasurer; Philip P. Puder, general agent.
The sales of the
establishment for the present year will amount to 75.000 barrels; 110
men are employed in its various departments and $75,000.00 is paid
annually in wages. The consumption of malt and hops for the year will
be 185,000 bushels of the former, and 115,000 pounds of the latter.
While the product of
the F. W. Cook Brewing Co.— the famous 'Pilsener Beer' — has become a
household word and is the most popular beverage in this part of the
country, it has also won an enviable reputation abroad, especially in
the southern states, and large quantities of it are daily being
shipped to all the principal cities of the south. Purity, brilliancy
and deliciousness of the flavor, together with its sparkling, foaming
qualities, is what has made the Pilsener of the F. W. Cook Brewing Co.
so popular wherever it has been introduced." - History of
Vanderburgh County - 1889
A fire destroyed the brewery and offices in
1891. They were immediately rebuilt, opening in 1893 with a capacity of
300,000 barrels annually.
Upon F. W. Cook's death in 1913 (at the age
of 81) his son Henry ran it until his death in 1929. Then Henry's brother,
Charles Cook, took over.
F.W. Cook was also the president of the
Evansville Suburban Newburgh Traction company (an interurban railroad) and
the District Telegraph Company. He also owned the Cook Investment Company
and Cook Realty which operated Evansville's largest amusement park - in Cook
There was a tavern, The Rathskeller, in the
basement of the brewery building (postcard below). By 1910 production
reached 600,000 bbls.
The Louisville & Nashville RR took a case
to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1912 against Cook because the L&NRR refused to
accept shipments from Evansville to dry counties in Kentucky. Cook had won
in the Circuit Court and received an injunction forcing the L&NRR to ship
kegs and cases of beer.
The plant was closed during Prohibition.
The reorganization in 1933 was done to
include the purchase of the abandoned downtown Evansville railroad line of
the remains of the Evansville & Princeton Traction Company. This third-mile
section of track down 9th St. linked the brewery to the Chicago & Eastern
Illinois RR yard at 9th & Division Sts. The new railroad was called the Cook
Transit Corporation and had one "box motor" electric locomotive. A 2-person
crew would switch out the brewery twice daily - between 15 and 25 cars,
Monday through Friday. A replacement locomotive was bought in 1947. This
1915 GE electric unit was retired when the brewery closed and is now at the
Transportation Museum in Noblesville.
In 1935 & 1936 they sponsored a semi-pro
baseball team, Cook's Goldblumes.
In 1948 Tony Hulman of Indianapolis Motor
Speedway fame bought controlling interest. After the workers went on strike
in 1955, wanting equal pay with Sterlings' employees, he closed it. At that
time capacity was 750,000 bbls. The corporation existed until 1961 but did
The former Evansville Jail and Courts
building, built in 1965, now occupies the site.
Their Goldblume brand was brewed in other
locations until 1972 and revived by the 1988-1997 reincarnation of the
Evansville brewery. F.W. Cook also brewed Tropical Extra Fine Ale.
More pictures at
The dome on top of the building was removed in 1950.
Evansville Brewing Association
1863 - 1876
1876 - 1891
John Hartmetz and Son
1891 - 1893
|In 1863, Henry Schneider
started a brewery on West Heights Road in "Babytown" (now Harmony Way at
In 1865 Franz Rettig
(no relation to the Franz Rettig of the Wabash Brewery) started a brewery in
Louisville and produced the Sterling beer brand. The company went through
many hands and several bankruptcies. It was sold at sheriff's auctions in
1869 and in 1876 to John and Charles Hartmetz.
(right) and his brother Charles decided to go their separate ways when
Schneider's brewery went up for sale in 1876. Legend says they flipped a
coin to see who would stay in Louisville and who would move to Evansville.
Charles died in 1888 and the brewery in
Louisville was sold by his widow to John Oertel in 1892 who produced
Oertels '92 in honor of that date.
The Hartmetz Brewery was moved to near
Pigeon Creek west of what is now Seventh Ave. at the Lloyd Expressway. The
old facility continued to be used as a malt house and was used that way by
the Evansville Brewing Association until 1910.
|Evansville Brewing Co.
1891 - 1894
|The Evansville Brewing Co. at
Fourth & Ingle Streets. It was formed in 1891 by a group of men including
Henry Wimberg who was the President of the company.
After consolidation into the Evansville
Brewing Association, Wimberg's sons Henry A. and John G. managed branch
sales offices in Indianapolis and Memphis. Son Louis W. became the
bookkeeper of the Evansville Brewing Association when aged 19.
1894 - 1918
|When John Hartmetz moved his
family back to Europe, his son, Charles F. Hartmetz inherited the operation
and used it to bring together 3 Evansville breweries to form the Evansville
Brewing Association. This Association was reportedly the result of a price
war between the larger F.W. Cook brewery and the non-affiliated breweries in
The main office went to the
largest and most modern facility, the Fulton Avenue Brewery (see
above) and the others were eventually closed.
In 1910 the capacity of the EBA was
reportedly 20,000 barrels, employing 250 people. Henry Wimburg was
Charles F's younger brother Otto eventually
became the master brewer and Vice President of the company.
Charles and Otto Hartmetz, along with the
mayor of Evansville, Charles Heilman (irony only), were major stockholders
in the Simplicity Auto Company from 1907 to 1911. The brewery modified one
of the cars to be used as a beer delivery truck.
They established a branch sales office in
Indianapolis in September, 1913. The address was 402 Majestic Bldg.,
telephone 1438. They did both store and home delivery.
". . . the Evansville Brewery prevented an Evansville saloonkeeper
from getting a new license from the county commissioners because he
allowed women in his saloon." - The Fort Wayne News, Dec 20,
By 1910 the plant had a capacity of 20,000
bbls and employed 250 people.
"It's Square Up to The Beer Drinker.
Indianapolis now privilege buying and drinking the famous brews of the
Association. For several weeks we have given the public our beers that
could be drunk with pleasure and real sound logical reasons at that.
We have avoided cleverly constructed but deceptive advertisements and
have struck out plainly and truthfully. We have endeavored to take the
consumer into our confidence.
have been favorably impressed with our frank statements and the
excellent and enjoyable qualities of our beers because the demand for
them is larger than expected. Our draught together with our famous
bottled and are now on sale in many stands throughout Indianapolis.
Every bar in the city will be supplied in the next weeks.
Our STERLING Bottled
The most uniformly satisfactory beer"
- Ad in the
Indianapolis Star, Oct 8, 1913
|Sterling Products Co.
1918 - 1933
Sterling Brewers Inc.
1933 - 1964
Sterling Brewers Association (Associated
1964 - 1972
1972 - 1988
|Like many others, the company
renamed itself during prohibition and made soft drinks, near beer, and malt
extract (which was used by illicit homebrewers). After prohibition it was
reorganized and renamed.
In the 1930s
they brewed Sterling and Lug o' Ale brands.
From 1933 until 1936 they produced Drewrys
beer for Drewry's U.S.A., a subsidiary of Drewrys in Canada. In 1936 Drewrys
bought the Meussel brewery in South Bend, Indiana, and moved their
Around 1935 they sponsored a semi-pro
"colored" baseball team called the Sterling Beers.
In 1937 they built a second brewery in
Freeport, Illinois, to increase production. It made 50,000 bbl per year in
addition to the 500,000 made in Evansville. They closed this plant in 1939,
the same year Charles F died.
"MAKE MINE STERLING
Since STERLING beer
brewed in the big EVANSVILLE BREWERY is again available in this
territory, more and more people are asking for STERLING.
BEER is one of America's Finest. All STERLING beer is brewed by the
big brewer at EVANSVILLE, INDIANA, one of the best equipped breweries
in the world.
Here are few places
where you can buy STERLING: Wilson Tavern The Brunswick Harris Grocery
Clarno's (Orangeville) Minert's (Davis) Pela's (Rock City)" - Ad in
the Freeport (Illinois) Journal-Standard, Sept 22, 1939
"THIS BEER IS LOW IN CALORIES!
BEERS are brewed in
many ways, from many formulas. Applying the most advanced brewing
methods, using nothing but natural beer ingredients, STERLING gives
you a beer LOW in calories. NO sugar, or glucose, or fattening syrups
are used. Its true beer flavor is crisp and refreshing, and your
pleasure is increased the knowledge that an 8-ounce glass is no more
fattening than many beverages you often drink.
So to be sure of
double satisfaction, ask for STERLING. ONE OF AMERICA'S FINEST BEERS
STERLING BREWERS, INC.,
EVANSVILLE, INDIANA - Ad in the
Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger, July 26, 1940
Sterling merged with the Associated
Brewing. Co. group of Michigan in 1968 and it passed to G. Heileman in 1972.
Sold to Evansville Brewing Company (below) in 1988 after G. Heileman closed
the plant due to over capacity in its other plants.
The Sterling Quality Pledge
We know of no beer made with finer
ingredients than Sterling. We use choice mountain grown hops, select 6-row
barley and filter pure water to brew this premium beer. These select
grains and hops, together with our natural aging, make Sterling the finest
beer obtainable at any price. . . . . .Sterling, pure Sterling.
After G. Heilman bought the company the
plant was used to make many of the brands they acquired from other breweries
including Cooks from Evansville,
from Terre Haute, and
South Bend. Others included Drummond Brothers, 9-0-5, Falls City, Lederbrau,
Pfeiffer, Rheingold, Tropical Ale, Weideman, Katz, Bavarian, and Prager
Prior to 1972, when Falls City Beer
production moved to the Sterling plant in Evansville, a friendly local
rivalry existed between the two beers. For many years the Evansville brewed
Sterling was the #1 selling beer in Louisville, while Louisville-made Falls
City was the #1 selling beer in Evansville.
Peak production was 900,000 bbls annually.
The EBA's office's Brucken's Annex, built
in 1894, is in the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures. The
brewery has been demolished.
Evansville Brewing plant in the early 1900s
Bottling Plant, early 1900s
Evansville Brewing Association
Mammoth New Bottling Shop
Evansville Brewing Ass'n, Evansville, Ind.
"Sterling" & "Rheingold"
Completed June 1, 1914
Dimensions 110 ft x 250 ft - Four Story and Basement The most complete
beer bottling plant in the United States. Modern and perfect in every
detail. Hygiene, sanitation, and pasteurization are here practiced
along the highest scientific lines. Visitors Welcome.
The Rathskeller in the basement of the brewery - from a
1988 - 1997
|A group of local investors
led by three founding owners, John Durnin, Mark Mattingly, and John Bzeznski,
re-opened the brewery on Sept 21, 1988 after G.Heilman closed it due to over
capacity throughout their brewing empire. The local investors wanted to
retain the employee base of the plant.
The brewer was Ken Griffiths and the plant had a 1,200,000 bbl
annual capacity. They employed about 90 people. The first CEO was Mark
Mattingly and the last was Steven Cook. Headquarters was at 1301 Lloyd
Evansville made Cooks, Wiedemann, Drewry's,
Falls City, and Sterling beer and brewed beers under contract for many
marketing companies including Frontier Brewing (Norway, IA - the first
Certified organically brewed beer in the US), Rainbow Ridge Brewing
(Marietta, GA - White Ridge Wheat Beer), State Street Brewing (Chicago, IL).
They also made "novelty" beers such as 1990's Bicycle Beer's Veri Berry,
Misty Lime, and Apricot Stone for a marketing company in Michigan.
original big-mouth bottle came from Sterling (right).
Mickey's, famous for the "big mouth"
bottles, also originated at Sterling and is reputed to be named after the
wife of the president of Sterling Brewers - the "Mickey part, not the "big
mouth" part. It is now part of Miller via Stroh's.
Birell was made in the 1990s, licensed from
Hürlimann Brewery in Zürich, Switzerland. Other brands included Coldsburg
Gray, Drummond Brothers, Eagle, Evansville, Gerst, John Gilberts, Gringo
Light, Hey Mon, Hoosier Red, Jackaroo, Joe's Freakin', Lemp, Lemp Light,
Mo's Maxin, New Frontier, River City, Riverfront, Sainsburys, and Zebra.
By 1994 Evansville Brewing sold almost 40%
of it's beer overseas. The "ISA" brand was produced for Argentina.
By 1996 they had started a line of beers
under the "Old European Brewery Company" name. Many of these had names such
as Jacob Rosnberger Munich Ale, Ian Kinross Highland Stout, Gustav Werner
Alt Amber, and Otto Bruckman Bavarian Bock. The "Colonial Brewery Company"
similarly made Bison Brau Original Wit and Allegheny Cream Ale.
Declared bankruptcy and closed on October
1, 1997. The brands were sold to Pittsburgh Brewing. The Sterling brand is
now owned by Iron City Brewing in Pittsburgh, having bought the Pittsburgh
This was still a large brewery right up to
closing. In November/December, 1997 they packaged up the product in house -
about 12 million cans.
Part of the Evansville Brewing Plant
1848 - ????
"August Schieber was born in Wittenberg, Germany, February 7, 1841, a
son of Frederick and Magdalena Schieber, residents of the town of
Stuggart, where the father died when August was seven years of age.
His mother married a second time, her husband being Frederick Richert,
and in 1848 he brought his family to the United States and located in
Evansville, Ind., where he established a brewery." - History of
Posey County, John C. Leffel 1913
1857 - before 1886
|Owned by L. Rice & Co. That's
Louis Rice, Jacob Rice's stepson. He left the City Brewery (above) to strike
out on his own at the corner of Vine and 4th Street where the courthouse now
"Coming down the canal, reaching Sycamore street, we came to another
bridge and on the left side of it was the old Union brewery. This was
an old landmark and one of the first breweries ever started here, but
yet for some reason it was not successful. The building was amply
large. It stood on the bank of the canal where water was easily
obtained, but the output was never large. I do not remember who the
owners were, but I do remember that it was where nearly everyone went
for yeast. This could be had on certain days, and great strings of
boys and girls could be seen going there to get the family yeast. I
have a vague recollection that this yeast had something to do with
buckwheat cakes but it is so long ago that I have forgotten." -
History of the City of Evansville, Frank M. Gilbert, 1910.
State Gazetteer and Business Directory of 1859 lists
- Wingert & Reis, Eagle Brewery, Cor. of
Pearl and Water Sts.
The 1868 Business Directory for Indiana
lists 12 breweries in Evansville:
- City Brewery, Cook & Rice. On 7th,
between Main and Sycamore Streets.
- Evansville Brewery, M. Stumpf &
Eisenfelder. At the corner of 6th and Ingle Streets. Capacity 1,800 bbl.
- Fahnley, Kuhn, and Co. At Bunker Hill
with an office at 85 Main St.
- Franklin Brewery, Fred Weber & Bro. At
the corner of Franklin and 4th Ave.
- Fulton Brewery, Bittrolff & Kroener. At
the corner of 8th and 5th Ave.
- Old Brewery, Kroener & Son. On Fulton
Ave between 5th and 6th Streets. Closed about 1880. Peak production was
- Olive Branch Brewery, owned by Joseph
Jauch. On 11th, near C.C. Springs.
- Union Brewery, L Rice & Co. At the
corner of Vine and Canal.
- One owned by George J Fisher at the
corner of Franklin and 9th Ave.
- One owned by Jauch & Hirschberger. On
Market between John and 4th Streets.
- One owned by Philip G Klapper. At the
corner of 12th Ave and Franklin.
- One owned by Henry Wingert at the corner
of Pearl and Front Streets.
It is said that by 1876 there were 17
breweries operating in Evansville.
of United States Breweries 1876-1976 a brewery that closed before 1875.
- Henry Kothe & Bro. - capacity 105 bbl
|A brewery owned
by A. & T. Pauli from 1874 until 1878 is referenced in many sources as being
in German, Indiana with a production of 265 bbls annually. We have no other
information about this brewery but it probably was in German Township of one
of Indiana's Counties: Bartholomew, St. Joseph, or most likely Vanderburgh.
|William J. Wittekindt Brewing Co. Inc.
1935 - 1941
|"Evansville's newest and
third brewery" was the William J. Wittekindt Brewing Co. Inc. It was at 11
S. Kentucky Ave.
"In Evansville, only Sterling and Cook's resumed operation. Not long
after, though, a family ong connected with the brewing industry made a
final stab at it.
With the end of Prohibition in sight,
H. William Wittekindt; a native of Germany and head of the A. A.
Wittekindt cooperage firm that had turned out hundreds of white oak
barrels a day for breweries before Prohibition decided to try it.
He sent his 21-year-old son, William
J., to brewers school in Chicago for a year and a half, starting in
1932, and then on to Munich, Germany, for a year's apprenticeship in a
The Wittekindt brewery began
operations in 1935 at the southwest corner of Kentucky Avenue,
Division Street and Canal Street with the founder's son as the
It failed and Wittekindt today
explains the 1941 closing of the brewery in simple terms. "We didn't
sell enough beer." - Evansville Courier-Journal, July 3, 1976
Brands included Hi Hop Beer and Wittekindt
1996 - Present
|Brewpub attached to Turoni's
Pizzeria which dates to 1963. Brewing operations added in 1996. Brewer Eric
Watson set the standard and formulated most of the beers. He left in 2004
and was replaced by Jack Frey.
1997 - 1998
The Little Cheers
2004 - 2006
|At 329 Main St. Evansville,
installed a small brewhouse in the old bank vault for brewer Nathaniel
Cruise. This venture did not last long.
The Firkin was resurrected in 2004 with the same equipment and same
brewer but a new name. A downtown bar with little emphasis on their own
beers. It stopped brewing in 2006.
Another note about some
"REFUSES ORDER OF EXTRADITION
Governor Ralston Declines to Send Seven Evansville Brewers to Tennessee to
Face Prohibition Law Indictments.
FLAWS IN PAPERS ALLEGED
Attitude Is Based on Errors in Legal Documents
No Evidence That Indiana Men Are Fugitives.
yesterday refused to honor papers from Governor Ben W Sooper of Tennessee,
for the extradition of seven Evansville brewers who are wanted at Memphis
on grand jury indictments charging them with violation of the "four mile"
state prohibition law of Tennessee.
The men sought by the
Tennessee authorities are Charles F. Hartmetz, John Wlmberg, Gust C Meyer
and Charles Ullmer, who are officers of the Evansville Brewing
Association, and Henry E Cook, F W Cook and G M Caussman of the F W Cook
Brewing Company, Evansville.
Papers Declared Faulty.
The extradition of the
Indiana men was denied because of gross Irregularities in the papers, but,
even with the papers presented in proper form, it's probable that Governor
Ralston would have refused to honor them, because there is no showing that
the men were in Tennessee at the time of the commission of their alleged,
crime and that they actually are fugitives. The Governor cites court
decisions to sustain his contention that he can not legally allow the
extradition of an Indiana man unless there is a showing that that man fled
from the state." - Indianapolis Star, July 12, 1914
Copyright 2004, 2007, 2009, Bob