E.C.B.A. the KEG Summer 2011

A History of Harrisburg Brewering

By Rich Wagner

Early Brewing in Harrisburg

Although the Appalachian Brewing Company’s website says that brewing dates back to the eighteenth century in Harrisburg, the oldest brewery for which I have information is the Barnitz brewery, established in 1831. It later became Fink’s and holds the distinction of being in business longer than any other brewery in the city.

Barnitz breweries abound, and have presented some challenges to Dale Van Wieren as he updates American Breweries. The first was started in Baltimore in 1748. The Globe brewery, which lasted until 1963, was built over the vaults dug for Barnitz’s brewery. In 1780 there was a Barnitz brewery in York, Pennsylvania; one was listed for Lancaster circa 1804, and one in Chambersburg that was in business as early as 1831.

It was in 1862 that Henry Fink, who had been working as a journeyman in the Harrisburg Barnitz brewery, leased the brewery along with his brother-in-law Christian Boyer. Starting with a capital investment of $600, they brewed fourteen barrels of ale and porter per day during the fall and winter months. In 1865 Fink & Boyer manufactured 4,000 barrels of “pure unadulterated malt liquors” worth $36,000.

The 1860s saw the appearance of a few short-lived brewers including: Mary E. German (1860-66) at 23 W. Chestnut St.; Leon Cramer (1860) on Cherry Alley; and a Philip Gorman (1862-64).

George Doehne worked Gorman’s brewery for two years before establishing his brewery at 322 Chestnut Street in 1862. His output was 300 barrels a year and it is said that both Doehne and Fink stored their beer in “caves” or vaults at Bellevue Park and Cameron Street.

Sometime around 1866 the State Capitol Brewery was started on North Fourth above Walnut Street. It became known as Frisch Brothers in 1869 when the city directory listed them as having an office and lager saloon at Fifth and Market Streets. According to the 1870 U.S. Non-Resident Census, the brewery was capitalized with $2,500 and used steam for power. Their annual payroll amounted to $2,000. They consumed 3,000 bushels of malt, 1,000 bushels of barley and 340 pounds of hops with a combined value of $6,132 and produced 1,800 barrels of lager beer worth $12,000. The brewery closed in 1872.

In 1870 John Walford started a brewery at 210 Colder Street. According to the U.S. Non-Resident Census the brewery was capitalized with $1,000 and had a yearly payroll of $600, employing one man for ten months a year. Production was 23 barrels of ale worth $720 and 8 barrels of porter worth $270. Boyne & Ogden ran the brewery from 1877-79 and brewed 155 barrels of beer. Philip Elbet brewed weiss beer there from 1879-84 and John Walford’s widow, Charlotte, conducted the brewery after that until 1893.

In 1875 George Beister opened a brewery in Harrisburg, but it is not known where or for how long. The same year Edward & John Koenig opened their Centennial Brewery at 207 Chestnut Street. Two years later it was being run by Christian Dressel who produced just under 4,000 barrels of beer in 1878.

The last three of Harrisburg’s earliest and lesser known brewers are only listed as being in business for one year: E.F. Leimbach at 213 Chestnut Street (1882), John Russ at 230 Meadow Lane (1892), and Fred Koenig at 606 York Avenue (1899).

Brewers of Temperance Drinks

I’ve searched the U.S. Non-Resident or Industrial Census information for the entire State of Pennsylvania for the years 1820, 1870 and 1880. The data is by no means comprehensive, as there are a lot of brewers we know were in business for those years that are not listed. There is information on the allied trades such as maltsters, coopers and bottlers.

In 1880 there were two manufacturers of “Temperance Drinks” listed for Harrisburg, which is interesting because there were no listings of this kind for any other city in Pennsylvania. Tod Von Mechow (http://www.sodasandbeers.com) has an extensive knowledge of bottles and bottlers, going very far back in time. He describes temperance drinks as low alcohol beers and flavored beverages like root beer or sarsaparilla with an alcoholic content of around 2.75%.

E. Marsili was one of the manufacturers who, along with his two sons, manufactured Temperance Drinks for six months a year. Raw materials were worth $200 and their product sold for $600. D. Bacon had a capital investment of $2,000 and worked year round, paying three hands $1,000 per year. He used $2,000 worth of raw materials and his product was valued at $4,000.

Harrisburg’s Big Three

Henry Fink’s Keystone Brewery

In 1875 Henry Fink became sole proprietor of the Keystone brewery and six years later he built a new brewery capable of producing lager beer.

In 1887 when Pennsylvania brewers met in Harrisburg to organize a united and strong opposition to the Brooks High License Law passed by the State Legislature, it was a “genial, ruddy and rotund” Henry Fink who welcomed the group. He was elected Second Vice-President and appointed to the Executive Committee. George Doehne was the only other Harrisburg brewer to attend the meeting.

Henry died in 1898 and his sons Henry C. and Robert B. took over the business. In 1902 they produced 18,000 barrels of beer. They more than doubled the refrigerating capacity of the plant with the addition of a 50-ton machine and brought production up to 25,000 barrels in 1907. Two years later the firm was incorporated at the Henry Fink Brewing Co. Edward Bauersfield, who graduated from the U.S. Brewers’ Academy in 1899, spent most of his career as brewmaster for Fink’s brewery. Brands included Fink’s Porter, Ale, and Extra Lager Beer.

During Prohibition the brewery was run as an ice plant but in April of 1933 it was announced that the company planned to spend $30,000 on new equipment. In October the company was said to have $150,000 in capital stock. The following year the brewery was up and running with a capacity to brew 300 barrels per day. Post Prohibition brands included: Finks Pilsener Style Beer, Bock Beer, Porter, Near Beer, Finks Derby Ale, Hercules Porter, Purple Ribbon Pilsner, Würzburger Lager. Frank Lohman was brewmaster.

By November of 1934 the company was in the hands of receivers who tried three times to sell the property. As a result of failure to pay taxes and insurance premiums and to adequately protect the buildings from deterioration, Dauphin County Court granted permission to the Fink Ice Company, holder of the brewery’s first mortgage of $97,500, permission to foreclose on the property. They purchased the brewery for just under $10,000.

Creditors filed suits for the return of all equipment installed in the previous two years and the property was sold at public auction for $2,710. The Government filed a suit against the brewery for unpaid taxes on 3,558 barrels of beer produced during the eleven month span that they were in business. The buildings were razed shortly thereafter.

Doehne’s Brewery

Breweriana from Doehne’s brewery is probably the hardest to come by of any of the Harrisburg breweries, and information is just as scarce. I have not seen a view of the plant.

In 1878 production was just over 3,000 barrels. In 1893 Philadelphia brewery architect and engineer Otto C. Wolf, designed and erected a refrigerated storage house with a capacity of 12,000 barrels. Pennsylvania Iron Works supplied a 20-ton refrigerating machine. The same year Doehne added a “coolship” or surface cooler to the brew house. Around the turn of the century a new brew house was built.

George Doehne died at the age of eighty in March of 1910. His obituary in The Western Brewer described him as “one of the best known brewers in central Pennsylvania” with extensive real estate holdings and interests in several business enterprises. His sons George and Charles continued the brewery business. Pre-Prohibition brands included Doehne’s Beer, Ale and Lager.

Rich Dochter interviewed Charles Doehne Jr. in December 1984 and recorded some detailed oral history. Charlie said the original brewery had a fifteen-barrel wood-fired copper kettle and they used old oak barrel staves as fuel before they started buying firewood. The new brew house had an 80-barrel steam-fired copper kettle.

One of the things that makes a “fire-brewed” beer different is that wort is caramelized on the interior surface of the kettle during the boil. Charlie said when they switched to steam, they actually had to add caramel flavoring so the beer would taste the same.

Prior to Prohibition they kraeusened the beer, a traditional method used to carbonate the beer naturally through the addition of fermenting wort to finished beer. Charlie said this was too much trouble and they just used CO2 after Repeal. The brewery had 20 100-barrel tanks.

Beer deliveries were done with horse and wagons as well as trucks within the greater Harrisburg area.

He and his dad, Charles Sr. ran the brewery after George was no longer involved. Charlie went to the U.S. Brewers’ Academy in New York City. He spent three years doing course work and completing his apprenticeship. Doehne’s brewery later took apprentices from the school.

Charlie said they did not run during Prohibition and that the family relied on income from eight rental properties adjacent to the brewery. The plant was unionized, and he said there were some problems with that. They were going to have to invest $200,000 to replace the bottling shop and that’s when they decided to close the brewery. The kettle and some of the storage tanks went to a candy factory. When it came time to tear the brewery down in 1939 he said it “was really built” with a triple layer of bricks, pitched inside and out to create a vapor barrier with triple glazed windows. The ceiling consisted of a series of small cement arches made with steel and I-beams which were bolted and covered with asphalt. The ground was turned into a parking lot which “did all right, with two attendants who worked all night.” He said that it was advertising that put the small brewers out of business.

In a story about the local breweries in 1975, reporter Paul Beers also interviewed Charlie Doehne who told him he remembered selling beer for five cents a glass and that after Prohibition he had 18-ounce tin cups of beer which sold for 15 cents, but too many railroaders stole the tin cups to take back to the caboose for coffee mugs. He said Doehne’s Stock Ale was dry hopped and had a high alcohol content.

The year before the brewery closed, it was listed in Brewery Age Buyers Guide and Brewery Directory as having a capacity of 10,000 barrels.

Robert H. Graupner’s Consumer’s Brewing and Bottling Co.

Robert Graupner came to Harrisburg in 1892 after a decade of work with the Betz and Schmidt’s breweries in Philadelphia. The following year he formed a partnership with Eugene Bauer and they ran the Centennial brewery for one year. Graupner became the sole proprietor for another year and then built the largest brewery in the city at Tenth and Market Streets. Chicago brewery architect Wilhelm Griesser made plans for the brewery, which was outfitted with modern machinery and equipment. It was six-stories tall with a capacity to produce 25,000 barrels a year. It was incorporated as the Harrisburg Consumers Brewing and Bottling Company with Robert H. Graupner as president and George R. Koenig secretary. In 1900 it became known as the Robert H. Graupner Brewery. The brewery produced Graupner’s Export, Porter, Ale and Elfenweiss. Mr. Graupner died in 1905 after which his wife ran the business.

In 1907 a new stock house, wash house, racking room and stable were added including two 350-h.p. boilers. Sons Fred and William became partners in 1912.

Rich Dochter interviewed Mrs. W.R. Graupner in 1985. Interestingly enough, her father was Frederick Lauer’s son-in-law and managed his brewery in Reading, Pennsylvania. She said the brewery made near beer and O’Mar Root Beer during Prohibition. The family purchased the Plaza Hotel in 1924 and owned the Washington House in Mount Joy along with two hotels in Millersburg. She said that in the old days Graupner’s beer was lagered in the vaults at Bellevue Park.

After Repeal, the brewery spent $100,000 for improvements and equipment and produced Graupners Ale, Beer, Bock Beer, Porter, X-Tra Fine Beer, Old German Lager Beer, Jolly Scot Ale, Jolly Scot Beer, Silver Stock Lager Beer, Tyrolean Lager Beer, Gold Stock Dark Beer. Edward Bauersfield was brewmaster when he left Fink’s. He retired in 1945 and was replaced by Walter Adler who was brewmaster for two years. When he resigned, Ray Bowers succeeded him.

In May 1946 American Brewer reported that all the capital stock of Robert H. Graupner, Inc. had been sold to a holding company. Fred W. was to remain general manager with no changes to personnel and operations. The magazine reported that Graupner’s extended their distribution from Maine to Florida in January of 1948. Sales amounted to $1,165,613 against a loss of $117,162 in fiscal 1948. In June of 1951 stockholders approved liquidation of the company and sale of the property.

Craft Brewing

Brewing returned to Harrisburg with the opening of both Appalachian and Troeg’s breweries in 1997. After fourteen years, Troeg’s is moving to Hershey in order to expand, which will leave the State Capital with one brewer.

Appalachian Brewing Co.

Harrisburg’s Paxton Commons redevelopment project opened the way to the start of Appalachian Brewing Co. when they sold the property to investors for $1. The building dates back to the 1890s and was a printing factory with 52,000 square feet of space. Artie Tafoya, who started nine other breweries around the country, was brought in from Heavenly Daze brewery in Steamboat Springs, CO as brewmaster. The owners did all the renovations themselves in what was reported to be a $2.5M project. Equipment was brought in from Vancouver Island Brewing Co. in British Columbia, Canada.

After some initial roadblocks from the Harrisburg School District, the Appalachian Brewing Co. was granted a license to sell their beer on premise in January 1997. Harrisburgers couldn’t have been happier! They have embraced the brewpub and products of the brewery which has expanded to three more locations: Gettysburg in 2003, Camp Hill in 2006 and Collegeville this year. Sales Manager Alan Edwards, is an avid collector of Harrisburg breweriana, particularly Graupner’s and has some of his collection on display at the brewpub.

Be sure to check out the brewpub at 50 N. Cameron Street. Hours are 11 AM to 11 PM Sunday through Thursday and they are open until Midnight on Friday and Saturday. There’s always something new on tap as the company has a regular rotation of seasonal specialty beers. Flagship brands include Trail Blaze Organic Brown Ale, Water Gap Wheat, Purist Pale Ale, Mountain Lager and Jolly Scot Scottish Ale. You can find their products in over 400 locations throughout Eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland. Combined production last year was just under 6,000 barrels.

Troёgs Brewing Co.

Not far from Appalachian is Troegs Brewing Co., located at 800 Paxton Street. They sold their first keg to a local restaurant on July 18, 1997. The beer that is “Hand Crafted by Two Brothers” initially had a hard time getting local palates to switch from mainstream beers. John Trogner said the biggest hurdle was just convincing people to try it. They devoted a lot of time introducing their product at beer festivals and have apparently convinced a lot of people not only to try their beer but to buy it. Production in 2006 was 9,000 barrels and last year they made 26,000 barrels. Year-round brands include: Hop-Back, Dreamweaver Wheat, Pale Ale, Troegenator Double Bock and Rugged Trail Ale. Troegs beer is distributed throughout PA, VA, MD, DE, NJ, NY, OH and MA.

In 2008 they got a brewpub license so they could sell six-packs and 22-ounce bottles from their tasting room, which now seats around 40 people and is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. Tours are available on Saturdays when the tasting room is open from 10 AM – 4 PM. They are closed on Sundays.

Troegs has been so successful that they need to expand and the location they’ve selected is 200 E. Hersheypark Drive, a former commissary building for the Hotel Hershey and Hershey Lodge which is three times larger than their current location. They hope to move into the new facility in October and plan to continue brewing in Harrisburg until the end of the year. Be sure to check out their website to see photos of the project which will include a 5,000 square foot tasting room. They are installing a 100-barrel brew house which will give them the ability to produce 60,000 to 100,000 barrels of beer annually.

The brewery has become famous for their “Scratch Beer Series,” experimental brews that are generally available while they last in the tasting room, and they are installing a 17-barrel pilot brewery for their experimental beers.

Brothers John and Chris Trogner will be leaving Harrisburg with only one brewery, but their beer will no doubt remain a prominent fixture in the city.



Cover. Graupner Tray (Ziegler Collection).


Doehne Letterhead (Ball Collection).


Doehne Framed Sign (Family Collection) Photo by Rich Dochter.


Doehne Tin Sign (Family Collection) Photo by Rich Dochter.


Doehne The only building known to be standing from Doehne’s brewery. Photo by Rich Dochter.


Doehne Label Bock Beer.


Doehne Ceramic Top (Leffler Collection).


Doehne Matchpack (Leffler Collection).


Doehne Matchpack (Lebo Collection).


Fink Ad.


Fink Ad.


Fink, Henry Portrait (One Hundred Years of Brewing).


Fink Ad featuring brewery that was built in 1881 (Don Fink).


Fink Business Card “Fink & Boyer” (Don Fink).


Fink Ad card for Bock Beer (Don Fink).


Fink Neck Label (Don Fink).


Fink Neck Label Hercules Porter (Don Fink).


Fink Label Hercules Porter (Wagner Collection)


FinkBottle (Don Fink).


Fink Bock Beer Label (Stan Hess).


Fink Label Derby Ale (Stan Hess).


Graupner Koenig brewery. Brewery built in 1875, brick building added 1894. (One Hundred Years of Brewing).


Graupner Letterhead, view of brewery (Larry Handy).


Graupner Letterhead dated 1933 showing Prohibition brands: Select, Canadian Pale Lager, Por Der and O Mar Root Beer (Larry Handy).


Graupner View of brewery taken by Uncle Ernie Oest circa 1950 (ABA Uncle Ernie Photo Collection).


Graupner Bottles with Porter Labels (Rich Dochter).


Graupner Barrel Head (Tom Raub).


Graupner Rare Metal Tap Knob (Jay Herbein).


Graupner Jolly Scot Cone Top Can (Jeff Lebo).


Graupner Sign (Alan Edwards).


Graupner Sign (Alan Edwards).


Graupner Pamphlet “The Facts” on Graupner’s Porter… Doctors Recommend it (Alan Edwards).


Graupner Portrait of Robert H. Graupner (One Hundred Years of Brewing).


Graupner Portrait of William R. Graupner who ran the brewery after Repeal (Family Collection) Photo by Rich Dochter.


Graupner Workers.


Appalachian Brewing Co. Graupner Breweriana Display (Alan Edwards).


Appalachian Brewing Co. Tap Markers (Todd Leffler).


Appalachian Brewing Co. Exterior View (Photo by Rich Wagner).


Appalachian Brewing Co. Exterior Sign (Photo by Rich Wagner).


Appalachian Brewing Co. Neon Sign (Photo by Rich Wagner).


Appalachian Brewing Co. Display of Products (Photo by Rich Wagner).


Appalachian Brewing Co. Catwalk Above Fermenters (Photo by Rich Wagner).


Appalachian Brewing Co. Mash Tun (Photo by Rich Wagner).


Appalachian Brewing Co. Brew Kettle (Photo by Rich Wagner).


Appalachian Brewing Co. Aging Cellar (Photo by Rich Wagner).


Troegs Brewing Co. Sign on the road in front of Troegs Brewery (Photo by Rich Wagner)


Troegs Brewing Co. Exterior view of Troegs Brewery (Photo by Rich Wagner)


Troegs Brewing Co. Longshot showing depth of brewery (Photo by Rich Wagner)


Troegs Brewing Co. Silo “Beer Handcrafted by Two Brothers” (Photo by Rich Wagner)


Troegs Brewing Co. The “TroegMobile” (Photo by Rich Wagner)


Troegs Brewing Co. Chris Trogner in the tasting room March 2007. (Photo by Rich Wagner)