Horluck Brewing Company (1933-1939)
George proved to be an able entrepreneur. By 1927, he had amassed a number of ice cream parlors, and on January 4th 1928, his chain became Horluck's Malted Milk Shops, Inc. with a starting capital of $5,000. He soon added $10,000 additional capital, and on April 24th of that same year he shortened the firm's name to Horluck's, Inc. The name change was the result of a suit brought by the Horlick's Malted Milk Corp. for trademark infringement.
On the 23rd of December 1930, George and his father formed their Horluck Investment Company with a starting capital of $99,000. Meanwhile, George's malt shops were doing well and the Investment company backed a new venture. They would produce the ice cream for the chain of shops in their own creamery.
In early 1933, with the end of Prohibition eminent, Horluck's, Inc. announced plans to enter the brewing business. In their March 19th issue the Seattle Daily Times reported:
"Horluck's Will Build $50,000 Brewery Here -
The brewery opened on schedule, on May 13th, as Horluck Malt & Brew instead of the Germania Brewery. They were located at the corner of Westlake and Mercer, at 606 Westlake St. N. They soon choice to do business as the Horluck Brewing Co.
Horluck's Brewing Company
The only brewery in Seattle producing beer immediately after Repeal was the Hemrich Brewing Co. followed directly by the under capitalized Pilsener Brewing Co. Consequently, the demand for beer far exceeded the supply.
A Danish brewmaster, Nils Christiansen, was engaged to consult with their first brew - a Danish style draught beer. While waiting for their first batch to age enough for release, George Horluck ordered a shipment of beer from his cousin in Denmark - who was head of the Tuborg Brewery. On May 13th, 1,600 cases and 300 barrels of Tuborg Beer arrived from Copenhagen.
The Tuborg Beer served to encourage the public to then try "Horluck's Danish style Draught" (see ad - right), and the company quickly made plans to expand their capacity. By November '33, a new brewhouse was completed, increasing the plant's output to 300 barrels per day.
Their Danish style draught beer sold well, and their head brewmaster introduced some additional brands, both bottled and draft. But by the beginning of '34 the major competition had come on-line. In late January, the Century Brewery Assn. introduced their "Rheinlander Beer" accompanied by a massive advertising budget. Century's ultimate dominance would result in the acquisition of the only two breweries left in Seattle, Hemrich's and Horluck's.
On 8 June of '34, the business was incorporated as the Horluck Brewing Company. The firms vice president and general manager was Bernard Hochstadter, a native of Munich, Germany, who brought 40 years of brewing experience to the firm. Prior to Prohibition, Hochstadter was president of the Everett Brewing Co.
The brewery produced a number of brands (shown below) including: "White and Gold" (a pre-prohibition brand from the Claussen Brewing Assn.), a "Belfast type - Imperial Ale", and a "Horluck's Vienna style Draught". Another draft label shown is the earlier, "Horluck Draught".
Draught, or draft, was meant for tavern consumption. It was fresh and un-pasteurized, and was recognized as beer at its best. The same was true prior to Prohibition and besides enjoying the beer in the saloon it was common to take beer home in a covered pail called a "growler". During the early days after Repeal, where it was legal for "off-sales", you could have the bar-keep fill a jug for carry-out. This was a popular option, and many breweries bottled un-pasteurized draught beer in half-gallon size bottles.
In the Sept. of '34, Horluck's competitor, the Century Brewery announced a novel packaging scheme for their draught beer. They began offering a 3-pack of 22 oz. bottles calling it a half-gallon package. This was the first time such a merchandising plan had ever been tried, and was an immediate success. Other NW breweries soon adopted the packaging, including Horluck. Below (right) is the 22 oz., no-frills label that Horluck chose, and they labeled their 3-pack box a Growler.
One of the early brews produced each Spring was their "Bock Beer", a paler style bock than made by the other brewers. In the April '34 edition of the trade publication Brewer & Dispenser, they discussed Horluck's first Bock release: "Horluck Brewing Company with plant in Seattle, dramatized the introduction of their bock beer to the Seattle Public by enthroning a real buck goat on a Horluck truck. Mr. Goat was accompanied by several men costumed as German country swains and the whole layout assisted greatly in the promotion of bock sales for Seattle retail dealers in Horluck's beer."
"Horluck Brewing Company with plant in Seattle, dramatized the introduction of their bock beer to the Seattle Public by enthroning a real buck goat on a Horluck truck. Mr. Goat was accompanied by several men costumed as German country swains and the whole layout assisted greatly in the promotion of bock sales for Seattle retail dealers in Horluck's beer."
The company also produced and a "Half and Half" - only available in bottles - which was described as "a blend of Highland Roasted Malt, and Old Dark Ale Brews - Aged long in Wood." They also bottled their "Horluck's Seattle Beer" in the new 22oz. bottles (below).
But their most popular product was introduced in May of 1935. Bohemian Brewmaster, Adolph Verhill was brought over from Europe in late '34 to formulate and produce a new brew, and after four months of cellaring it was ready for the market. "Horluck's Vienna Style Beer" was a naturally carbonated or "krauzenized" brew, and was of a light Pilsner style.
By 1936 Verhill had replaced Wm. Schick (who moved to the Columbia Breweries in Tacoma) as head brewmaster, but Verhill's rein was short lived. With Rainier Beer now being made in Seattle, Holuck was looking for something special to differentiate their popular brand from the heavy competition. He replaced Verhill with Munich born, Franz Puels, a brewmaster who took the position after running breweries in Brazil and Hong Kong.
Puels had a huge, 212 gallon, seamless copper brew kettle installed that used the old-world method of boiling the wort by direct-fire rather than super-heated steam. The new Vienna Beer was introduced in May of '38, and their ad campaigns touted their beers as being "Fire Brewed at 2000 Degrees." The supposed benefit was that the grains were fully cooked!
We'll never know if Puels' Fire Brewed Vienna Beer would have threatened Rainier Beer, since both Puels and the Horluck would only have twelve more months to perform. In May of 1939 the Horluck Brewery was absorbed into Emil Sicks' brewing empire, and Franz Puels returned to Germany.
The Horluck Brewery didn't produce many point-of-sale items, at least not that have survived. The R.O.G. sign (above), this Prismatic sign, the three glasses, and ball tap knob (below) are all for their flagship brand, "Horluck's Vienna style Beer", ca. 1934-1939. However, anything with "Fire Brewed" on it is only from the May '38 to May '39 time frame, and would be harder to find.
Sick's Century Brewery (1939-1957)
After Prohibition the Sick family of Canada was intent on entering the U.S. market. They began in early 1933 by acquiring control of breweries in both Great Falls and Missoula, Montana. Next they established the Goetz Brewery in Spokane, later moving the business to the old Galland-Burke Brewery, but they were drawn to Seattle where more lucrative opportunities awaited.
In 1933, they made a deal to lease the old Bay View Brewery which had been sold and operating as a feed mill since 1919. On June 7th of '33 the Century Brewing Assn. was incorporated and the plant renamed the Century Brewery, and in 1934 the Sicks purchased the plant from the mill owners.
The Apex Brewing Co. was located on Hemrich family property adjacent to the Century Brewery Assn. plant, and had been struggling since the Feb. '35 death of its founder, Alvin Hemrich. In May of 1938, Sick purchased the company, and for one year, until May '39, the plant became home to Rheinlander Brewery, Inc. Later the facility was to become the company's quality control, and chemical lab.
The Pilsener Brewing Co. had closed in late '34, which left the Horluck Brewing Company as the only other operating brewery in Seattle - and on May 1st, 1939, through a deal brokered by Lester R. McCash, that too was under the Sick's control. McCash joined the Sicks' team after a disappointing tenure with the Hemrich Brewing Co., which was about to go under.
The deal with McCash was facilitated by Horluck's vice-president and general manager, Bernard Hochstadter. The plant went through a $75,000 expansion and modernization program, and re-opened as the new Century Brewery - and home to Rheinlander Beer. Hochstadter stayed on as vice-president of the new organization.
Below is a 1939 photo of the Horluck plant - now the Century Brewery - with it's new signage: "Century's Rheinlander". This sign had been moved from the main plant on Airport Way - as can be seen in this 1935 photo of the original Century Brewery.
"Sick's Select" beer was introduced to Seattle in August of 1939, seemingly as an alternative to their flagship brand, "Rainier". However, it was merely a ploy that allowed the Sick organization to offer a premium Seattle beer to Portland and the San Francisco Bay area. Due to the deal struck with the Rainier Brewing Co. of SF in 1935, they could only sell "Rainier" in Washington and Alaska, so this new brand provided them entry into these other lucrative markets. "Sick's Select", as well as "Rainier" was produced in the main plant on Airport Way.
In April of 1940, brewmaster, John A. Weiss was still producing "Rheinlander", and a new blue & gold label was introduced to stimulate sales. Weiss also introduced an ale to the line-up in 1940 called "Boss' Ale". Then in Sept. of '41, they transferred production of "Sick's Select" to the Century plant, and the floundering "Rheinlander" brand was discontinued - but re-introduced 20 years later as it's budget brand. The Century plant now became "The Home of Sick's Select" and had the signage to prove it, as seen in this 1944 drawing.
While the advertising items touted the Sick's Century Brewery name, their product labels and cans carried the corporate name, Seattle Brewing & Malting Co.
By 1942, co-managers L. R. McCash & F. W. Shepard had increased annual production at the Century plant to 80,000 barrels. With the purchase of the Salem Brewery Assn. in Oct. '43, Shepard transferred to the Salem plant and relieved the outgoing manager in hopes of increasing production there as well. John Weiss was replaced by his assistant, Al Bush, and Weiss moved to Los Angeles to take over as brewmaster of the Maier brewery.
In January 1944, Sicks' was added to all the company's breweries and the Century Brewery now became Sicks' Century Brewery, and "Sick's Select" was changed to "Sicks' Select" - but "Sick's Select Ale" had already been discontinued. Unfortunately, neither the Ale or the Beer had made the impact on the California market that had been anticipated, but now the remaining "Sick's Select" beer was holding its own in the greater Portland area. With its production now in Oregon the brand was doing even better there, and the slogan, "The Famous Beer from Seattle" was replaced with, "A Sicks' Quality Product".
In 1949 Emil Sick decided to give the "Sicks' Select" label (left) a new look. He hired Walter Landor of San Francisco, who came up with the design shown on the label below (right). It was introduced in July of '49.
Landor went on to work on other brewer's labels, and in early '57 he updated Lucky Lager's distinctive red "X" logo with stylized hop leaves.
Also in 1949, Bob Weingaertner succeeded Al Bush as brewmaster. Weingaertner came to Seattle from NY City where he had been a brewer for Piel Bros. Late in 1950, Weingaertner was instrumental in the formulation of a new product which would become "Brew 66". It was test marketed in the Seattle area from March to June of '51. They called it the "new taste of Sicks' Select", so rather than print new labels for the trial they just overprinted the "Sicks' Select" label with the new brand name (at right).
In July of '51, "Brew 66" was launched, and production commenced at both the Century Brewery, and Sicks' Brewing Co. in Salem, OR - this time sporting its own new label (below left) designed for the roll-out.
In July of '55, the Century brewery introduced "Brew 66 Special Draught" for taverns, but continued canning and bottling "Brew 66" for the carry-out trade. Then in 1956, production of "Brew 66" was shifted to the main plant on Airport Way, still doing business as Sicks' Seattle Brewing & Malting Co. (SeaBrew).
Then in July '58, the decision was made to offer "Brew 66" only as a draft beer in taverns, and by late '58 the last cans & bottles had been sold. The last "Brew 66" label, ca.1958, is shown below.
On Jan. 4, 1965, the property at Westlake Ave. N. and Mercer Ave. was sold to an investment company who in turn leased the property to Union Oil of Calif. A couple of months later the Century Brewery was demolished to make way for a gas station.
Sick's Select & Brew 66 Breweriana
Lighted, motion sign, ca. 1951-56
Brew 66 & Sick's Select Collectibles - For Sale