A Brief History of Brewing in Terre Haute, Indiana

Terre Haute Brewing, Peoples, Hager,
Terre Haute Brewing (post prohibition), Vigo Brewing

Terre Haute Brewing Company

Bleemel Brewery
1837 - 1848

Mogger Brewery
1848 - 1868

Kaufmann & Mayer
1868 - 1869

Anton Mayer
1869 - 1889

Terre Haute Brewing Company
1889 - 1918
1934 - 1959

(photo courtesy
Bruce Mobley)

Chauncey Warren and Demas Deming, Sr. started the Terre Haute Brewing Company in 1837 at 8th and Poplar Street. Soon this site was used by Earnest Bleemel's brewery until Matthias Mogger bought the business in 1848.

A. Kaufmann and Anton Mayer bought it in 1868 upon Mogger's death and it became Kaufmann & Mayer. Mayer bought out the Kaufmann family's share in 1869 when he died. At that time the brewery was producing 2,500 bbls monthly.

Anton Mayer was an immigrant from Wurtemberg, Germany and was employed in a brewery there before he moved the the U.S. at age 16. He worked for 8 years as a brewer in Cincinnati, becoming a brewmaster. He was also Matthias Mogger's brother-in-law.

"One of the leading German citizens and successful business men of Terre Haute is Anton Mayer, the pioneer brewer of the city, who has been closely identified with the business interests of this county for over forty years. Mr. Mayer is a native of Germany, having been born on January 12, 1842, in Wurtemberg, and is the son of Bartholomew Mayer. Mr. Mayer was reared on his father's farm in the fatherland, and received his education in the common schools of his native land. While in Germany he worked for a period of eighteen months in the brewery, and the knowledge thus gained formed the foundation for his great success in that line in this country. He came to the United States in 1858, when but little more than a mere boy, leaving home and parents behind. He came direct to Terre Haute but remained in this city but a short time, going to Cincinnati, Ohio, where for a period of over eight years he was employed in a brewery, three years of which he was foreman of the establishment. While at work in Cincinnati he was a close observer of the way the brewery business was managed, and became thoroughly familiar with all the details of the same. He was of an economical disposition and his wages soon accumulated sufficiently for him to determine to venture into the business on his own account. When the time came for him to put his plans into force his mind traveled back to Terre Haute, and so, in 1868, he returned to this city and formed a partnership with Andrew Kaufman and together they purchased the brewery plant of his brother-in-law, Mathias Mogger, and engaged in the manufacture of beer. Mr. Kaufman died about eleven months after it was established, Mr. Mayer becoming the sole owner.

When the brewery was first opened for business it was on a small scale, with a yearly capacity of two thousand five hundred barrels. During his ownership the plant was improved and enlarged until the capacity, in 1889, was raised to twenty-five thousand barrels a year. In that year Mr. Mayer sold that business, which is now the Terre Haute Brewing Company, and retired from active business. He owns considerable valuable improved city and farm property, the management of which takes all of the time he is now willing to devote to business. So successful has been the business career of Mr. Mayer that he is accounted one of the wealthy men of Terre Haute, as well as one of the city's leading and influential citizens." - Greater Terre Haute and Vigo County, Charles Cochran Oakey, 1908

Mayer sold his company in 1889 to Crawford Fairbanks (of the Indiana Distilling Co. - see below), John H. Beggs, and Deming. It was then merged into the Terre Haute Brewing Company. At this time it occupied 2 blocks at 9th and Poplar and produced 30,000bbl annually.

By the turn of the century, THBC was the 7th largest brewery in the US. Stables were a block away with 50 Clydesdales and Belgians delivering beer to the immediate area.

The built a new office, storage house, and bottling works in Indianapolis in 1904 according to Ice and Refrigeration Illustrated, July-Dec 1903

They had expanded to 901-935 Poplar St. by 1910. At that time, Crawford Fairbanks sold his interest in the brewery to "the Beggs Brothers".

Not all was rosy in a city awash in beer. In the early part of the century Terre Haute was called the "Paris of Indiana" or more often "Sin City" due to the wide-open nature of the mayors' corruption. Sporting houses, and saloons without closing hours were the most obvious public aspect of the local political machine being funded by brewery money. Mayor Bidaman was impeached in 1906 and Mayor Roberts convicted of election fraud in 1915, serving time.


This is evidenced by Government records, which, like figures, do not lie, it is evidenced by the imperative necessity of enlarging materially what is already the largest brewery in Indiana. This steady increase in the consumption of Champagne Velvet is due to the appreciation of the public that it is the best bottled beer that has ever been placed on the market, it is a popular tribute to the superiority of Champagne Velvet over all other beers. Champagne Velvet is the beer for your home. One bottle will satisfy you of this. Terre Haute Brewing Co. Terre Haute, Ind" - Ad in the Coshocton, Ohio, Daily Age, June 21, 1907

"The Terre Haute Brewing Company has adopted a "layoff" system by which all employees may get a share of the work. The decreased output, owing to the increasing "dry" territory, has diminished the amount of work to be done. It is said one of the glass factories which makes beer bottles exclusively and in which Crawford Fairbanks, of the Terre Haute Brewing Company, is the largest stockholder as well as the largest customer, will close for the summer season a month earlier than usual. The Glass Bottle Blowers' union has been caring for a number of unemployed men for some time, as the greater part of the product of the glass factories in Terre Haute is beer bottles." - Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Mar 17, 1909

Previous to Prohibition, THBC was not a member of the Indiana State Brewers' Association and did not join any lobbying efforts to stave off dry counties in Indiana. The ISBA claimed THBC was "owned by distillers" and "a detriment to brewers".

In 1910, Crawford Fairbanks sold some of his interest in the brewery and instituted a financial reorganization with Thomas Beggs buying a big portion of the stock.

Crawford Fairbanks joined Tom Taggert and W.W. McDeal, president of the Monon Railroad, in the formation of the French Lick Springs Hotel Company.

Closed at the onset of prohibition. New president, Oscar Baur, reorganized THBC in 1934. Baur was a former Terre Hautean who returned to the city in 1933 with his brother, Jacob, specifically to re-start the brewery. It reopened on March 17, 1934.

A local ad man, William Polje, started the motto "The Beer with the Million Dollar Flavor" and for publicity the brewery insured the formula's secret for one million dollars.

By 1935 distribution of Champagne Velvet had expanded to 19 states and was eventually sold in all 48. Production peaked at 202,000 bbls.

The Atlantic Brewing Company bought the assets in 1958 and operated it for one year under the name Terre Haute Brewing Corp.

"Greatest flavor advantage in brewing history!

From first pour to last, there's more liveliness, sparkle and vitality in every drop of CV. Live flavor that gives you a keener, brighter, more satisfying taste. That's because CHAMPAGNE VELVET is especially brewed to stay lively longer. That's why light, lively CV tastes much better! Plus all this, CHAMPAGNE VELVET, the Beer with the Million Dollar Flavor, is as calorie free as beer can be." - Ad in Holland (Michigan) Evening Sentinel, May 5, 1954

The Champagne Velvet brand name appeared in 1904. Other brands included 76 Ale, America's Pride, Blackhawk, Radium, and, starting in 1957, Red Top, 20 Grand, and Barbarossa.

They seem to have acquired Red Top, 20 Grand, and Barbarossa names from the Red Top Brewery of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The CV trademark ended up with G Heilman (brewed in Evansville's Sterling Brewery), then Stroh, Schlitz, and Pabst. They ceased production of CV in the late 1960s. The name was bought back in 2000 at the new Terre Haute Brewery (below).

There are a lot of pictures of the Terre Haute Brewing Company at the Indiana Historical Society Digital Image Collections.


Stylized picture from a postcard.


Henry Becker
???? - 1905

People's Brewing Company
1905 - 1920

(courtesy Bruce Mobley)

Located on the bluff between Water and S. First Streets on a site previously occupied by the home of the Link family. This residence had been changed to a boarding house that rented rooms to "organ grinders, rag pencil peddlers, itinerant musicians and miscellaneous street hawkers".

According to The Register of United States Breweries 1876-1976 Henry Becker had a small (under 500 bbl capacity) brewery on this site until 1905 when it was sold to the new People's Brewing Company

Principles in the company included Ralph Charles, N. Murphy, and John F. Hutchison. First brew was on May 18, 1905.

Frantz Brogniez, an immigrant from Belgium, was the brewmaster and superintendent. He had previous established breweries in Lichterville, Belgium, and Detroit - Tivoli Brewing in 1897.

Started with a stock filing of $200,000 on June 27, 1904. The plant was designed with a 40,000 bbl capacity.

They made Celtic and Spalter brand beers until prohibition. Made Celto cereal beverage but didn't last out Prohibition.


George Hager

1835 - ~1836

"By the time Prohibition became law in 1918, Terre Haute had seen 30 breweries open and close. Terre Haute's first brewery was opened by George Hager in 1835 at Outlet 23, but soon after was destroyed by fire." - Vigo County Library Timeline of History

Hager's brewery was located at Water and Sheets Streets near the river. At that time there was much traffic by flatboats which transported goods produced a the brewery, a mill, a distillery, brickworks, foundry, and many slaughter houses.

"George W. and Henry S. Glick's brewery, built in 1854 at the southwest corner of Water and Wabash, is now the site of Willard Kidder's Wabash Flour Mills." The Glicks sold to Moses Ester in 1860. He closed it in 1876. Maximum output was 70 bbls per year.

"During the Civil War, the Confederate prison was housed in the former pork packing plant on the hill at the southeast corner of First and Park streets, now the Wabash Distillery's bonded warehouse."

"Imbrey's Brewery and John Bergholz's brewery were on the northwest corner of Seventh and Sycamore streets south of the Wabash & Erie Canal." It closed before 1875.

"Max Reesman's (Reismann?) brewery was north of the canal and south of the railroad on North Seventh Street."

"Albert Hertwig's brewery was at the corner of Eighth and Poplar streets before 1860." It closed in the middle of the 1860s.

- Quotes from a Tribune-Star Column by Mike McCormick. Other info from The Register of United States Breweries 1876-1976.

Paulus Walser
Reinhold Klant

1874 - 1880

Paulus Walser started a brewery in 1874. Around 1877 he sold it to Reinhold Klant who enlarged it to 1000 bbl capacity before it closed.
Seventh Street
Chris Stark
The Register of United States Breweries 1876-1976 also lists:
  • Seventh Street Brewery, Ballard. Closed around 1860.
  • Chris Stark Bottling Works. Opened before 1910 and closed in 1913.
Moses Ester Brewing Co.

Before 1868 - 1870s?

The Moses Ester Brewing Company was on the corner of Ohio & First. It is listed in the Vigo County Archives of Terre Haute, 1868.

Eugene Duenweg was the superintendent of the brewery in the 1870s.

Terre Haute Brewing Co.

1870s - 1883

The first company named the Terre Haute Brewing Company was owned by Fred Feyh, Coelstein Kinzle and Theodore Kriescher in the 1870s and early 1880s. It was at the southwest corner of First and Ohio streets. This business ended in 1883.
Indiana Distilling Co.

Merchants Distilling Co.

Commercial Distilling Co.

There was a distillery at Water and Sheets Streets before 1840.

The major distillery in Terre Haute had roots back to 1840 when formed by Ezra W. Smith and Horace Button. This operation burned in 1847 but was rebuilt by Smith. Alexander McGregor bought it in 1850 and did profitable business during the Civil War. Herman Hulman bought it from Smith in 1870. By 1880 this distillery, then at First and Wilson Streets, was owned by Crawford Fairbanks and Robert S. Cox and was in the news when a boiler explosion killed 7 people. On June 29, 1884, a this 4-story distillery (by then owned by Fairbanks and Duenweg) burnt to the ground. It was reported that 300 hogs were roasted when the fire spread to nearby barn. The distillery was rebuilt, becoming the Indiana Distilling Company. In 1895 they built a 6-story Majestic Distillery that was thought to be the world's largest with a capacity of 60,000 gallons a day.

The Merchants Distilling Co was founded in 1898 by Fred B. Smith and had a capacity of 15,000 gallons daily. It was on south First St. This enterprise was reopened after prohibition. They went bankrupt in 1959. court ruling

The Commercial Distilling Company in the early 1900s.
Located at Prairieton Ave and Demorest St.
Described as the largest distillery in the world.
Stylized picture from a postcard.

Modern Era

Terre Haute Brewing Company

2000 - 2006

Brewpub and bottled beers. Founded by Mike and Teri Rowe and Gary and Diane Richards in the same building as the old Terre Haute Brewing Company. more info

The first brewmaster was Ted Herrera with Tim Robson, assistant. The principle products were pilsner, amber, and bock beers.

The flagship Champagne Velvet beer was made to a 1901 CV recipe.

The restaurant business ended in 2005. They stopped brewing in 2006. In 2007 the plant was sold to Vigo Brewing (below).

Vigo Brewing Company

2007 - Present

The Brugge Brasserie in Indianapolis and some other investors bought the Terre Haute Brewing Company facility to make beer for the brewpub and to bottle the Brugge beers. They also contract brew for others including the Wabash Valley Beer Company.

Micah Weichert was the first head brewer, followed by John Kopta.

Copyright 2004, 2007, 2009, Bob Ostrander