Uncovering Our Roots!
Our agricultural and brewing roots run deep. Our tie to agriculture is much more apparent than our ties to the brewing world, but both are equally as important to our narrative, how we came to be and who we pay homage to! It is with great pride and pleasure that I write a condensed family history highlighting inspirational stories behind the inception of Wheel Line Cider.
Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company- “The Brew that Grew with the Great Northwest”-
Jacob Schmidt (1846-1910), the founder of the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company is my great, great grandfather. He arrived in the United States from Muffersdorf, Bavaria (now part of Czechoslovakia) as a passenger on the ship Atlanta when he was 19 years old. He befriended Theodore Hamm and moved to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1865 as Hamm’s brew master. He eventually branched off to become the owner of North Star Brewing Co. in 1884. North Star Brewing was successful, but the brewery burned down, causing Schmidt to find a new location. In 1900 Jacob Schmidt purchased the old Stahlmans Cave Brewery, and continued to build his beer legacy. When Jacob Schmidt passed away in 1910, he left the brewery operations to his son in law, Adolf Bremer (1869-1939) and Adolfs brother, Otto Bremer (1867-1965). Schmidt beer would successfully continue brewing operations (even survive prohibition) in this location until selling in 1954 to Pfeiffer Brewing.
The old Stahlmann Brewery contained caves in which Schmidt and his team continued to excavate, even though “laggering” caves were being replaced by mechanical refrigeration. The elaborate cave and passage system would serve another purpose aside from cellars in the years to come.
National Prohibition (1920-1933) caused production and sales of alcoholic beverages to cease. However, this minor inconvenience didn’t stop Schmidt Brewing, they simply adapted and created non-alcoholic beverages or “near beers” such as Malta and City Club. Rumor is that Schmidt Brewing continued to produce real beer and utilized the underground caves and secret tunnels below the brewery to move beer from the brewery to ships docked on the Mississippi River below for quiet distribution. It is also rumored that beer was delivered to the back porches of prominent families as well as various speak-easy locations.
After Prohibition, Schmidt’s Brewing was up and ready to begin beer production immediately. They re-released the City Club beer with the slogan “Tops in any Town” and was met with huge success. Unfortunately, the attention the Bremer family received resulted in the kidnapping, for ransom, of Edward G. Bremer (1897-1965) by the Barker-Karpis gang in January of 1934. Luckily for Edward, he was released a month later to the tune of $200,000 in FBI marked bills that have yet to surface.
The iconic painting featured in the photo at the top of the page was created by illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894-1978). In 1930, Rockwell was hired by Schmidt Brewing Company to create an ad for their, at the time non-alcoholic Schmidt’s City Club Beer, which after Prohibition became a golden lager.
By 1936 Schmidt Brewing had become the 7thlargest brewery in the country! City Club beer began to fade into the background, and in 1954 the Bremer family sold Schmidt Brewing Company to Pfeiffer Brewing Co.
Our family prides itself on its strong historical and familial ties with brewing and alcohol, and even though we have now shifted into the fermentation world of Cider, we’re committed to continue to “Grow with the Great (Pacific) Northwest”. Schmidt Brewing Company (1900-1954) will always have a special place in our hearts and act as a model of perseverance, and innovation.