Hemrich Brothers Brewing Co. letterhead


   Hemrich Bros. Brewing Co. (1896-1916)

and successors

Hemrich Staff Products Company

Hemrich's Inc.

In January of 1891, Julius Wegert sold his North Pacific Brewery to Lester Turner for $5,000. Turner was with the 1st National Bank of Seattle, acting as agent for John Hemrich. Charles A. Saake was then hired to manage the brewery which continued operating until late in '96, when Alvin M. Hemrich (see biography) took possession of the plant and business of the North Pacific Brewery.

The plant was better known as the old Slorah Brewery. It was, located on Howard Ave. N. (now Yale Ave. N.), between Republican and Mercer streets. The firm was first operated as the Alvin Hemrich Brewing Co. producing steam beer and porter. In early '98, Alvin was joined by his brother Louis, and Julius Damus, in the organization of the Hemrich Brothers Brewing Company, which was incorporated under the laws of the state on the 4th of February, 1899.

Hemrich Bros. Brewery -  image
Hemrich Bros. Brewery ca.1901

Hemrich Bros. Brewery workers -  image
Early crew - Alvin Hemrich seated front left

~ click on images for larger view ~

"Under the effective management of these interested principals the business was built up to a most successful standpoint, the equipment of the plant being of the most approved modern type. The products of the brewery, including lager and porter, were reported to be of exceptional quality by utilizing the best material in the process of manufacture, the malt being secured from Wisconsin and California, and the hops being the most select products from Bohemia and from the state of Washington."  quote from early Seattle history.
Hemrich Bros. Brg. Co. ad 1901 Seattle Directory - image
Ad from 1901 Seattle City Directory
Hemrich Bro's Brewing Co. oval beer tray - image
stock tray, mfg. unknown, ca. 1900
Hemrich Select beer tray Night Watchman - image
The Chas. W. Shonk Co. stock tray "Nachwachter" -  ca.1907
Hemrich Bros. Brewing Co. etched beer glass - image
Hemrich Bros. etched beer glass
Hemrich Bro's Select Beer label - image
By 1903 the brewery's annual production was approximately thirty-five thousand barrels, and it employed about 75 workmen. With the improvements in brewing technology, and through major changes in the equipment of the plant, having installed the latest improved accessories, they greatly augmented their productive capacity. The plant was now larger than the family's Bay View Brewery. The beer was delivered in wagons pulled by purebred draft horses, which were the pride of the organization. They were primarily a draught beer brewery, but they established their own bottling works 1522 6th Ave., managed by Charles Barnold. See label (right).

They produced a number of beers including Seattle's Pride, and Apollo Beer, but their flagship brand was Hemrich's Select. 

Apollo Beer wagon, SFTheir San Francisco agent & bottler was Charles H. Dechent. The photo of Dechent's horse drawn beer wagon carries the slogan: "Apollo Lager Beer / Seattle's Famous Brew."
Dechent also sold "Yukon Beer" which was made for him by
the Milwaukee Brewery of San Francisco.

Alvin M. Hemrich was president and manager of the company from the time of its organization, and continued in that capacity until 1915. He was also the president of the Claussen Brewing Association, and was a major stockholder in the family's Seattle Brewing & Malting Company.

Hemrich Bros. etched beer glass - image
Hemrich Bros. etched beer glass

Hemrich Bros. beer tray c.1904 - image
The Meek Co. stock tray No. 65 "Annabelle" painted by Angelo Asti-  ca.1904

Hemrich's Select beer tray - image
by Chas. W. Shonk  -  there's also a matching tip tray

Hemrich's Apollo Beer etched glass - image
Apollo Beer etched glass

Hemrich Bros. Brg. Co. match safe
Hemrich Bros. Brg. Co. match safe

Hemrich Bro's beer tray "St. Vincent" c.1908
The Meek Co. stock tray No. 89 "St. Vincent" -  ca.1908

Hemrich's Staff Products letterhead, c.1917 - image
1917 letterhead

Hemrich's Staff Products Company

With the onset of state-wide prohibition in 1916, Hemrich Bros. began doing business as Hemrich's Staff Products Co.  On January 1, they commenced the manufacture of a cereal beverage (near beer) called "Lifestaff." The following March they added a sparkling appleHemrich's Staff Prods. Lifestaff button juice called "Applestaff," both with the slogan:
"It's Liquid Food."


The brand name of "Lifestaff" was a clever way of identify it as a beer. The term is an abbreviated form of "the staff of life" - which refers to bread. For Germans, beer - like bread - is a daily staple, and beer is often called liquid bread. So, "Lifestaff - a Liquid Food" gave little doubt as to what was in the bottle, especially to their German patrons.

On 31 January, 1918, the firm registered the name "Bockstaff" for a malt-less, non-alcoholic beverage sold as a soft drink. The following year they added "Palestaff" to their line-up.

The operation of the plant was under the management of Paul F. Glaser, who was also secretary of the company. They continued producing their Staff Products until November 1, 1919, when Alvin Hemrich merged his company with Rainier Products in Georgetown, of which his brother, Louis, was president.

Rainier Products operated until mid-1921, when the Georgetown plant was shut down, and all production was shifted to the SF plant. Products were then shipped to Seattle to be marketed by their Rainier Distributing Co. in Georgetown. Paul Glaser was general manager of the distributing company.

Alvin closed the Hemrich Bros. Brewery in 1920, and sold it three years later.


Hemrich's, Inc.

   Hemrich's Special Brew label c.1933 - image

In 1927 Alvin Hemrich, in partnership with Isadore Luxenberg and his brother-in-law, William Rutschow established Hemrich's, Inc., and started production of a near-beer called "Hemrich's Special Brew" under Federal permit No. L-27. The label shown here had the words "contains less than ½ of 1% alcohol by volume" at the top, but was over printed and "alcoholic content less than 3.2% by weight" was added. This was merely to utilize the stock of labels used prior to Repeal.

Hemrich's 1932 calendar - imageAlvin had plenty of experience with low alcohol near-beers. From 1916 to 1920 he produced a cereal beverage called "Lifestaff" at his Lake Union plant - the Hemrich Bros. Brewing Company.

He also produced a near-beer called "Golden Age" at his Aberdeen Brewery from 1916 to 1924. His process was to brew a regular strength beer and then remove most of the alcohol. However that process wasn't always adhered to. In 1931, he and his oldest son, Elmer, got into trouble with the Feds for selling beer stronger than allowed by law. They were also busted for selling wort in five gallon cans to home brewers.

This newly established, Hemrich's Inc. was located at 2918 9th Ave. So. (later 2918 Airport Way) adjacent to the old Bay View Brewery, which had been sold in 1913, and was now the Bayview Milling Co. Then in 1930, he tore down the old frame structure and built a new brewery at the same location.

This was the only operating brewery in Seattle at this time - as noted on the 1932 calendar shown here. The calendar art was done by Bradshaw Crandall, who also did the the art work for the 1936 calendar for the successor company mentioned below.

With Repeal in April of '33, the firm was re-organized as Hemrich Brewing Co., Inc. It was issued U-Permit No. 1205, and on April 7th of 1933, it was the first Seattle brewery to offer the public legal beer in over 17 years.

The following year the company would again be re-organized as the Apex Brewing Company.


WARNING - I've seen phony match safes from seven different WA breweries - all with graphics taken from my history pages. The fakes I'm aware of are supposedly from: Hemrich Bros.;  Seattle Brewing & Malting;  Bellingham Bay Brewery;  Aberdeen Brewing Co.;  Albert Braun Brewing Assn.;  Columbia Brewing Co.;  and the Washington Brewing Co. of Everett.

Fake Hemrich Bros. match safe - graphics
taken from header at top of this page.

Hemrich Bros. Brg. Co. match safe
Authentic match safe.

Article by


  • Special thanks to the Graham for family for providing the early 1900s photos. 

  • To Jeff Henry for the image of his beautiful 1932 calendar.

  • And to Stewert Wilson for the image of his bulldog tray - St. Vincent.


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