E.C.B.A. the KEG Winter 2014

Brewery Preservation Update


By Rich Wagner, Pennsylvania Brewery Historian


You may remember an article on brewery preservation from I did the KEG Spring 2004 that “Celebrated Success Stories and Remembered the Fallen” . This is an update a decade later. Worldwide, more brewery buildings have been demolished, others have been re-invented and some have been “reincarnated” as breweries.


I’m not sure if I created a “success list” while researching for that article but ever since, I’ve relied on breweriana publications, the Society For Industrial Archeology and Facebook to try and keep it up to date. It's never been easier to get input and I’ve greatly expanded the list of people who have contributed sites. The ABA FB group has been particularly useful in this regard.


Here is a summary of some of what’s been happening most recently. I know there are lots of gumshoes out there poking around and I encourage you to contact me with standing brewery buildings I can add to the list:


In Philadelphia the Finkenauer brewery stable is in the process of renovation to become St. Benjamin Brewing Co.


The Gretz brewery is only  a couple of blocks away and is visible from the second floor. Its future becomes more bleak with time. Several articles written in “hidden city” chronicle its probable demise.


In Northern Liberties, Ortlieb’s brew house and stock house buildings are in the process of being razed. The bottling house across from that property is being renovated and will become offices for KieranTimberlake, a major architectural firm.


Allentown’s Neuweiler brewery was mentioned in the last issue of the KEG as being primed to become a new production facility for Ruckus Brewing Co., but its ultimate fate remains to be seen.


Pittsburgh’s Iron City brewery closed a few years ago and the brand is now being made in Latrobe (as are a number of western PA brands). Insiders figured the plan was to raze the buildings and develop the property but it has been reported that they will spare the office building.


In Erie, there were plans to convert the old Koehler brewery into a shopping mall with restaurants and office space but the majority of the complex was razed, leaving a garage and warehouse.


I recently went to Shamokin to see Bruce Hertzog’s fabulous Fuhrmann & Schmidt breweriana collection.  He took me to see a building that had been their office/warehouse/bottling house which is now used for housing at Commerce and Washington Streets.


Yuengling’s James River brewery in Richmond, VA was recently in the news regarding local efforts to designate the remaining beer vaults as a historic site.


In Cincinnati, as part of their Heritage Trail, there are efforts to reuse brewery buildings in the “Over the Rhine” Brewery District.


The Standard (Cataract) brewery in Rochester was recently razed to make room for parking and possibly microbrewery, tasting room and visitor center for the Genesee brewery despite local efforts to save it.


Part of the Dixie brewery in NOLA is poised to become part of a VA services complex if details can be worked out. And the Falstaff Apartments in the same city have been created from that brewery.


The Olympia brewery in Tumwater, WA made news recently. The brewery still stands and its fate is uncertain, but a former brewermaster gave a slide presentation to a packed house to locals who still find the buildings interesting.


Parts of the huge Pabst complex in Milwaukee have been converted into living and office space. A local group wants to create a museum in there and currently there is a venue called “Best Place” that offers tours and has a gift shop.


A search on the web revealed that the Pearl brewery in San Antonio, TX has been renovated and is part of that city’s River Walk billed as a place for great food, shops and recreation.


The National Brewery Museum in Potosi represents a “best case scenario” for a brewery in ruins, having been re-incarnated as a brewery, restaurant and breweriana museum.


Schlitz Park remains a “success story,” with many buildings being preserved with the exception of the magnificent brew house was razed recently as it was deemed impractical for reuse.


The Jacob Schmidt brewery in St. Paul has been “on the ropes” for years but progress has been made through the continuing efforts of a local preservation group to find ways to reuse it. It is currently a work in progress. http://www.schmidtartistlofts.com/ 



Gosia Sindy Sindirelki from Poland pointed me to links about Browar Slupski in Slupsk, Poland. She says that the trend of breweries closing has been occurring there the same as we have seen in this country.


The Humser brewery in Furth, Germany stands vacant, with equipment still inside. There are great pics of this brewery as well as a movie of the brewery when it was active in the early 20th century on Facebook.




01 View of the Ortlieb bottling house taken during the Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association brewery tour in 2009. The buildings across the street are in the process of being razed. The old Ortlieb brewery saloon will remain as a successful bar and music venue.


02 View of the Gretz brewery complex.


03 This is all that remains of the Finkenauer brewery. It is a 75 horse stable designed by Otto C. Wolf, Philadelphia’s premier brewery architect and engineer. It is currently being renovated and will become home to St. Benjamin Brewing Co.


04 The Fuhrmann & Schmidt brewery office/bottling house/warehouse is currently used as housing.


05 The Standard brewery in Rochester was razed. It was designed by A.C. Wagner, Philadelphia’s second-most prolific brewery architect and engineer.


06 View of the Schlitz brew house taken in 2011. It was recently razed.


Note, this article appears as written, not as edited for the KEG, and links have been added.

Addendum: July 23, 2020


 To add to the “update” the St. Benjamin brewery in the Finkenauer brewery stable building closed, leaving us with one fewer “reincarnated” breweries. There are currently efforts underway to renovate the F & S warehouse/bottling shop in Shamokin. The Cataract brewery in Rochester was razed, but the bottling plant has become a brewpub in the shadow of the Genesee brewery. Yuengling's James River Steam Brewery just received a historic marker. A new Potosi B.C. production brewery has been built on the property adjacent to the National Brewery Museum.

Related Articles

Wagner, Rich. "Yards Brewery - Kensington's Brewing Tradition Continues." Mid-Atlantic Brewing News. April/May, 2003.

Wagner, Rich. "Brewery Preservation: Celebrating Success Stories, Remembering the Fallen." The Keg. Spring, 2004.

Wagner, Rich. “A Stroll Through Brewing History: The Past Preserved in Philadelphia.” Mid-Atlantic Brewing News. Apr./May 2005.

Wagner, Rich. "How We Saved the Stegmaier." The Keg, Quarterly Newsletter of the E.C.B.A. Summer, 2005.

Wagner, Rich. “Eastern Pennsylvania's Historic Beer Trails.” Mid-Atlantic Brewing News. June/July 2007.

Wagner, Rich. “Philly's Born Again Breweries.” Mid-Atlantic Brewing News. August/September 2014.

Wagner, Rich. “Breweries Reincarnated as Breweries.” American Breweriana Journal. Nov./Dec. 2014.

Wagner, Rich. “Philadelphia Brewery Tour Revisited: Linking a City's Past and Future. Mid-Atlantic Brewing News. April/May 2016.

Wagner, Rich. Preserving the Legacy of Brewery Architects: A.C. Wagner of Philadelphia. American Breweriana Journal. September/October 2017.

Wagner, Rich. “From the Coal Fields of Pennsylvania.” American Breweriana Journal May/June 2018. McGinty brewery, Tamaqua and Standard brewery in Scranton.

Wagner, Rich. “Brewery Vaults I Have Known and Loved... and Some I've Only Heard About.” American Breweriana Journal March/April 2020