A Brief History of Brewing in Lafayette, Indiana

City Brewery, Spring Brewery, Thieme & Wagner, Star City,
Lafayette Brewing Co.

City Brewery

City Brewery

Before 1851 - after 1868

"At about 1 a.m. lightning struck Emdee's Brewery." - Tippecanoe County Historical Association - July 27, 1851.

The Indiana State Gazetteer and Business Directory of 1859 lists "Christian Emdee, brewery, Ohio, between Romig St. and Sample's Tannery."

The Indiana Business Directory for 1868 lists the City Brewery, J & H Emdee, on Third Street between Ramsey and Alabama.

Spring Brewery

Newman & Miller

Newman's Brewery
1842 - 1857

Spring Brewery
1857 - 1868

Newman & Herbert's Spring Brewery
1868 - 1872

Newman & Bohrer's Spring Brewery
1872 - 1888

George A. Bohrer Brewing Co.
1888 - 1918

John H. Newman, an immigrant from Mecklinburg, Prussia and his brother-in-law, Abraham Miller, built a brewery in southern Lafayette near the Wabash & Erie Canal in 1842. Miller died shortly after.

Newman moved the brewery in 1856. This new brewery was on the east side of Fourth St. south of Alabama St. (82 or 111 S. Fourth St). Water was brought through a 3-inch pipe from a spring "some distance away", giving it the name.

The brewery started to pipe its water to neighbors in 1858. It also installed a fire plug on the street in front of the brewery and built a bath house next to the brewery offering "hot and cold spring baths". Eventually the spring dried up.

There is evidence that the old location was still used as a second brewery. The City Directory of 1861 lists both "Newman's, Fourth and Alabama" and "Newman's on the Wabash and Erie Canal near Ellsworth Street". In 1868 the county rolls record a "Wabash Brewery, Frederick Newman, prop, cor Canal and South".

Meinrad Hauser was a partner for a short period in 1867 before unsuccessfully opening his own brewery at Fourth St. and Teal Rd.

Dietrich Herbert (late of Wagner & Herbert, below) joined Newman in 1868.

George A. Bohrer, an immigrant from Bavaria and husband of Catherine Newman, moved to Lafayette from Cincinnati in 1872 and bought Dietrech Herbert's interest in the firm. It was renamed Newman & Bohrer. Production capacity was about 10,000 bbls.

1890 drawing from A Glimpse of Lafayette

In 1888, at John Newman's death, it became wholly owned by George A. Bohrer and referred to as "Bohrer's brewery". Bohrer paid $12,000 for Newman's heirs' ownership. Later, his son, Charles J. Bohrer, became the Vice President of the company and his son-in-law, Joseph Blistain, became treasurer.

Bohrer's made Indiana Pride, Bohrer's Amber Beer, and Bohrer's Special Brew ("Brewed expressly for family use").

It had a capacity of about 14,000 bbls before it closed due to Prohibition.

Continued until 1928 under prohibition making ice cream under the name Bohrer Products. Co. The full city-block of building complex was demolished in Sept, 1939 and replaced by a Kroger drive-in supermarket.

Much more information can be found at Ben Ross's pages.

Thieme & Wagner
Lafayette Brewery

Wagner & Herbert Co.
1848 - 1862

Thieme & Wagner
1862 - 1918

Founded by John Wagner and Dietrich Herbert in 1848 at 151 N. Fourth St. near Union. Herbert sold his interest to Frederick Thieme in either 1858 or 1862 (accounts vary but most say 1862). This brewery made about 2,000 bbls of beer annually.

John Wagner was an immigrant from Weimar, Germany. With the proceeds from the successful brewery he bought interest in several Lafayette banks. He died in 1904 and his house at 715 N. Fourth St. still stands.

Lafayette Artificial Ice Co was a spin-off company in the 1890s. That company became the Lafayette Ice & Coal Co.

"As of 1899, John Wagner was president of the company, Charles C. Thieme was vice president, J. Henry Thieme was secretary and treasurer, Theodore Wagner was superintendent, and Frederick P. Thieme was a brewer. After the death of John Wagner, senior, in 1904, his son, also named John Wagner, became president of the brewing company. When the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce was established in October, 1913, John Wagner, was elected president." -
Ben Ross

On April 1, 1901, Frank Wagner, John's son, is reported to have owned Lafayette's first automobile. It was a red steamer built in Indianapolis.

A trademark for "The John Wagner Sons Brewing Co." was filed with the Indiana government on May 12, 1900. This may have been an enterprise of Frank Wagner and it may have never actually been started.

The 1901 City Directory lists John Wagner, Pres. Fred P. Thieme, VP & Treas. Frank H. Wagner, Sec and Mngr Bottling Dept. Telephone number 47.

Brewers around this time included Gustav Schmid, Matthew Schmid, Charles Wagner, and Michael Yost. August Weniger was the Cooper.

As many breweries did at the time, their output was bottled by another firm. In this case it was Tengen & Thieme (below) located across the street. The Tengen part of this company were Wagner's in-laws.

T & W brands included Bohemian, Extra Brew, T&W Special, Lockweiler Special Brew, Star City and Tavern Brew.

By prohibition the company had a production capacity of 35,000 bbls.

National Fruit Juice Co.
1918 - 1927

Val Blatz
1927 - 1933

Made near beer and Apella brand apple beverage during prohibition as the National Fruit Juice Company, a subsidiary that T&W started in 1916 with Gustave L. Goob. Their Apple-Ade was a carbonated unfermented cider.

Val Blatz Co. took over in 1927.

Lafayette Brewery, Inc.

1933 - 1953

The operation was bought by W. G. Hanger at the end of prohibition for $200,000. He had been running Lafayette Ice & Coal. It was reorganized as the Lafayette Brewing Company and the brewery facility was completely rebuilt utilizing 40 men starting in April, 1933.

W. G. Gude was the president of the new company. It's possible they had some property at 716-814 N. Fourth St. It's said they gave a free case of beer to every policeman and fireman in Lafayette every Christmas.

LBI's brands included Tippecanoe (1934 - 1945), Kopper Kettle (1935 - 1942), and Ye Tavern ("The Beer De Luxe").

The original Ye Tavern was the same recipe used for Tavern Brew before prohibition. It used hops from Oregon and Czechoslovakia. The brewmaster was Louis F. Panther who had worked for 31 years at the Bohrer brewery (above).

At it's height, the Lafayette Brewery made about 100,000 bbls annually.

LBI closed in 1953 and the buildings were torn down in 1960 in favor of the now Harrison Street bridge.

Much more information can be found at Ben Ross's pages.

"In its mammoth new plant which has been in the course of construction for the past six months at the north end of Fourth Street, Lafayette Brewery, Inc., is now engaged in the manufacture of 'Ye Tavern Brew' beer. The first will be ready for market before Christmas.

The first run of the beer, in which the same formula is employed as that used [until 1918] in the Thieme & Wagner company's 'Tavern Brew' is now in receiving tanks and started on its way to aging, kegging and bottling. There are three cellars of aging tanks, and it requires many days to complete the process after the beer is manufactured before it is ready for consumption. In all there are 65 huge tanks used in the ripening of the beer." - Journal and Courier, Oct 12, 1933.

A 5-story addition was built in 1894, shown here about 1900 in a picture from the Herman Berry collection.

Tengen & Thieme
Noll & Schneider

before 1903 - 1918

Chas. E. Noll and Frank Schneider were with the Thieme & Wagner spinoff, Tengen & Thieme Bottling Works at 821-825 Fourth St.

By 1915 were bottling on their own as Noll & Schneider.

Bottlers of Thieme & Wagner Brewing Co.s Celebrated Bohemian, Pilsner and Lager Beer; Ginger Ale, Champagne Cider, and all Kinds of Carbonated Drinks.

They bottled T&W beers at the plant labeled "Chas. E. Noll, bottler, registered, Lafayette, Indiana"

Charles Noll died in 1920.

Star City

Star City Bottling Works

1880s - 1918

Founded by German immigrant, John A. Ries as a backyard enterprise at 141 S. Fourth St. By 1896 they made beer. They also made champagne, cider, soda, seltzer, ginger ale, and other soft drinks.

From this drawing we see they bottled Pabst brand beers.

Employees included Nelllie Ries (wife), Flora Ries, John S. Ries, William A. Ries, and Laura Ries. John A. died about 1900 and the business was run by his wife, Nellie.

The 1901 City Directory lists it at "rear 201 S 4th."

About 1909, Henry W. Gagen became the proprietor and the business moved to 201 S. Fourth St. During prohibition they continued to bottle soft drinks. By 1930 Star City was gone. article


Meinrad Hauser was a partner in Newman's Spring Brewery for a short period in 1867 before unsuccessfully opening his own brewery at Fourth St. and Teal Rd.

"During the summers of 1878 through 1882 temperance people, mostly women, had protested in vain against licensed beer and gambling stands at the Tippecanoe County Agricultural Association's annual fairs. Now they petitioned against the same practices for 1883, but were turned back on grounds the $1,000 licenses brought money and people to the fairs while the women "did not contribute to the industries of the county and therefore should have no voice in the matter." - Tippecanoe County Historical Association

In 1880, at least, the temperance forces boycotted the fair. In 1883 and 1884 the fair was not held because of the effect these boycotts had. In 1885 the fair returned, although dry.

In 1881 the two Lafayette breweries totaled 486,000 gallons (or 4.1 million 50cent glasses) of beer.

Howell Bottling Co. was at 121-123 S. Fourth St. "Bottlers of Beer and Mineral Waters" was in business around 1901.

"Partners Stephen J. Hannagan and Patrick L. Fitzgerald had tried a short-lived brewing operation about 1900, producing "Pride Of the State" beer." - Tippecanoe County Historical Association

Modern Era

Sometime in the late 20th century a brewery marketing firm, Tippecanoe Brewing Company, distributed William Henry Harrison Ale contracted from the Oldenburg brewery in Fort. Mitchell, KY.
Lafayette Brewing Co.

1993 - Present

Brewpub founded by Greg Emig, former brewer at Broad Ripple Brewing Company. Christopher Johnson is the brewer. The building is at 622 Main St.

Greg's father, Joe, subsequently started the Aberdeen Brewing Company in Valparaiso.

For more information about Lafayette breweries, see Ben Ross's pages.

Copyright 2004, 2006, 2009, Bob Ostrander