American Breweriana Journal Jan./Feb. 2023


Brewing in Norristown, Pennsylvania


By Rich Wagner


01 Glass block tower on the side of the building illuminated the reception area on the first floor and the brew house and mezzanine on the second and third floors.


02 1938 Brew House. August 1981 (Wagner)


When asked, “Should we have a brewery tour?” I quickly assured the local chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology that a tour of the new Von C Brewery in Norristown was not only possible, but that we could also see Stony Creek Office Center which stands as a shining example of preservation of Adam Scheidt’s Valley Forge Brewery.


Descendants of Christian Schmidt, the Von Czoernigs were the last family members involved with the Schmidt brewery before it closed in 1987. The current generation recently returned the family to its brewing roots.


We could certainly get a tour at Von C, but my first thought for an SIA tour was to start at the Scheidt brewery complex which was a five-minute drive away. It was the largest brewery just outside Philadelphia and was Schmidt’s Plant #2 for 20 years.


03 “The Tower” was actually a support for the iron roof that spanned the yard providing washing and racking kegs, delivery docks, etc. August 1981 (Wagner)


04 Looking south towards the 1938 brew house is what remains of the stock house that would have been behind the brew house (no longer standing), both of which were modern additions in 1894. August 1981 (Wagner)


05 Porcelain sign from the family crest on the side of the building was recently struck by lightning. (Evans Collection)


06 BCCA Convention Tour 2010 (Wagner)


I first photographed the Scheidt brewery in August of 1981. In 1987 I returned to see what had been preserved as the Stony Creek Office Center and it was the first stop on my Philadelphia Brewery Tour for the BCCA in 2010.


It was time to revisit Norristown, so I returned to photograph the site and spent a few days at the historical society, re-examined my own files and searched what was available online.


07 Facing the front of the brewery, the central 6-story structure housed a “6-Pak” of malt silos. A pneumatic system could empty a rail car in four hours. (Airveyor ad Modern Brewery Age December 1950)


08 Scheidt installed a dealcoholizing apparatus for making near beer during prohibition. They built a still and bonded warehouse building at that time. (1920 Sanborn Map)


09 Distillery and bonded warehouse. August 1981 (Wagner)


10 August 2022 (Wagner)


Collectors continue to be a valuable resource and when I ran into Jeff Bednar at a breweriana show he told me a friend had an office in Scheidt’s 1906 office building. Jeff had contacted me back in the mid-nineties when he was writing his masters thesis on brewery preservation. I knew he had an interest, so I kept bugging him and about a month or so later we got the “nickel tour” of the office, and the magnificent 1938 brew house!

Norristown is the seat of Montgomery County and is located fifteen miles upstream from Philadelphia on the Schuylkill (SKOO-Kill) River. The Schuylkill Navigation Co. completed their canal in 1829 providing conduit for coal from Pottsville to Philadelphia. Railroads soon followed and Norristown became a center for commerce and industry.


11 The Cox brewery and malt house had four hotels within a block to supply with beer. (1891 Sanborn Map)


12 A.R. Cox & Co. Bottle. Von Mechow Collection (


A.R. Cox Brewery


Morgan James and David Bryan established a brewery and malt house at Main and Markley Streets in 1831 and two years later became James & Eschbach. It was a good location with a nearby canal, and later direct rail service for handling bulk shipments of barley and malt. In 1860 Eschbach formed a partnership with Abraham R. Cox which lasted for a decade when Cox became proprietor.


Scheidt Brewery


13 Scheidt built a modern brewery in 1894 that included a large refrigerated stock house and boiler house. (Historical Society of Montgomery County)


14 Razing the 1894 brew house in 1975. (Historical Society of Montgomery County)


In 1866 the Moeschlin Brothers established a brewery at Marshall St. across the street from a mill just upstream from A.R. Cox on Stony Creek. Charles Scheidt purchased the brewery four years later and, as the story goes, brewed beer for his saloon across the street.  He probably purchased his malt from Cox. His brother Adam came from Germany in 1878 and became partner then took over six years later upon the death of his brother.


A little further upstream Stony Creek was dammed to create a headrace for the mill. The resulting pond would have been a source of ice in the days before artificial refrigeration.



With an eye towards growth, Scheidt purchased the Cox brewery from his estate in 1891. Three years later built a large modern brewery and soon after closed the old Cox plant. When prohibition came in 1920 production stood at nearly 100,000 barrels a year.


Adam Scheidt died right after beer came back in 1933 a year when they produced nearly a quarter million barrels. His son Karl, a Wharton School graduate, brought production to a half million barrels in just over a decade. The company adapted to the post WWII business climate with an emphasis on packaging and advertising – they sponsored radio and television broadcasts of the Phillies and the A’s home and away games – and their territory covered a dozen states or more.


Schmidt’s purchased the brewery in 1954 and ran it for twenty years, adding 500K barrels of production to their capacity.


15 1906 Office building. (August 2022 Wagner)


16 Jeff’s friend Sean, in Adam Scheidt’s office. (August 2022 Wagner)


17 1906 Hexagonal “tower” housed the lab. (August 2022 Wagner)


18 Adam Scheidt’s office backed up to a door leading to this balcony from which polka bands performed overlooking a hall with two fire places. (August 2022 Wagner)


19 ASB Co. imbossment identifies the brewery-owned sewer line. (August 2022 Wagner)


The Tour


We had perfect weather for the tour as we gathered in front of Scheidt’s magnificent 1906 office. There, carved in stone: Adam Scheidt Brewing Co., just over a balcony from which Adam Scheidt himself, could gaze down at Marshall St.


As we walked in towards the complex, a beautiful wrought iron fence guarded us from the precipice of the creek bank. We saw the tasting room/executive dining room which was built after repeal in the style of an English Tudor. It straddled the mill race, affording those inside a splendid view of the valley created by Stony Creek.


20 Tavern (August 2022 Wagner)


21 1938 Brew House designed by Harley Ellington & Day of Detroit added 33% to production capacity. (November 2001 Wagner)


22 Postcard, Frankenmuth Brewery, later Carling. (Seidel Collection)


Past the tavern there was a stone building off to the right which probably started as an ice house, but what beckoned us was a magnificent “early modern” brewery building with its beautiful tower of block glass rising four stories. And that was just the side of the building!


We walked around and saw the building from the front with its giant portico and the central part of the building rising two stories above the rest that once housed six malt silos.


The large parking lot behind us was space formerly occupied by the 1894 brew, stock and boiler houses, and the assortment of buildings: office, stables, bottling house, and warehouse.


From there we crossed the creek over a bridge. Looking back we could see where tanks had been removed from the 1956 stock house that still stands. We walked down the drive and could see the modern bottling house which had been built in 1914 as well as the huge addition made during post-war expansion in 1948.


23 1916 Bottling house was executed by Peuckert & Wunder, Philadelphia Architects and Engineers. Post-WWII additions greatly expanded the footprint of the building.


43-25 Terra cotta signage and figure. (November 2001 Wagner)


26 I superimposed dates of construction based on my research to this aerial view of the plant. (Modern Brewery Age December 1950)


We walked around to see the front of the bottling house, now a U-Haul storage facility. The large garage and paint shop off to the left was built in 1936 to service the fleet. And as we looked back, perched on the hill, was the 1938 brew house gleaming like a beacon.


Greg Evans joined us on the tour. He’s a breweriana collector who I’ve gotten to know on Facebook. He put me in touch with the property manager for the site who told me that the complex is up for sale again.


27 A large knitting mill was subdivided, providing space for Von C Brewing Co. (August 2022 Wagner)


28-29 Rick Von Czoernig was our tour guide. (August 2022 Wagner)


Brewing in Norristown Today: Von C Brewing Co.


It was a short drive to Norristown’s current brewery which made quite a splash as Breweries in Pennsylvania’s “Best New Brewery 2021” winner. We were met by Rick Von Czoernig, who pointed out during his introduction that his son had just joined the team, making it a seventh generation brewing family.


They are located in a portion of what had been a large knitting mill with a high ceilings and large windows providing natural light.


The brew house is a 40-barrel Pub System. That and all the tankage was purchased used. There is also a 3-barrel pilot brewery. A mobile canning company that rents space in the brewery takes care of packaging, and of course there is a keg line.


In the short time they’ve been open, Von C has packed the house with a full schedule of events and established a substantial number bar and restaurant accounts. The beer lineup is extensive, but my personal favorite is O.G. Pils, made with the original Schmidt’s recipe.


Von C has hosted two of my slideshows: one on the Schmidt’s brewery and the other on Scheidt. Larry Handy organized breweriana shows around each presentation.