Milwaukee Brewing Co. of Tacoma, lager beer label

Milwaukee Brewing Company of Tacoma

The Milwaukee Brewery was preceded by three other brewing enterprises at this 23rd & Jefferson location. The first was established in 1884 by Diedrich Stegmann, and was one of the first breweries in Tacoma.

Stegmann ran his brewery as a sole proprietorship until 1886 when he took on a partner, Henry Lusthoff. However, by 1888 a new company had been formed and was  doing business as the United States Brewing & Ice Co., with Diedrich Stegmann, president; S.S. Slaughter, secretary; and John Frazier, treasurer. US Brewery of Portland - advert.

This appears to have been a stock company formed by George Harrell and Zacharias Zimmerman, to enable them to enter the Tacoma beer market. Harrell was a wealthy brewer and owner of the United States Brewing Co. of Portland. This new company now gave Harrell and Zimmerman their Tacoma branch.

Before the year was out, the acting proprietors were in place and the Tacoma Bottling Works was added as unit of the company. The president was still Diedrich Stegmann, but with Mathies Karasek, now serving as secretary & treasurer.

A mere three years later, interest in the brewery was purchased by two local liquor dealers, and other investors from Tacoma's Jewish community, but Diedrich Stegmann still held a major share in the company.


The Milwaukee Brewery

Milwaukee eagle logo

In May of 1891, Samuel S. Loeb, and his brother-in-law, Albert Weinberg, purchased controlling interest in the United States brewery. Two months later, the July 17th edition of the Seattle Intelligencer reported that Andrew Hemrich, proprietor of the Bay View brewery has purchased Mr. Stegmann's shares in the United States Brewery of Tacoma. The brewery will be remodeled and renamed the Milwaukee Bewery.

Not much has been written of the Milwaukee brewery. Most of the information has been gleaned from local newspapers of the day.

The December 8, 1891, Tacoma's Daily Ledger reported:

"A BUSY BREWERY - Milwaukee Company Enlarging Its Jefferson Avenue Plant by One-Half.
For a brewery, that of the Milwaukee Brewing company at the corner of Twenty-third street and Jefferson avenue is a small one; but so competently is it handled that it is not only profitable, but it turns out a very large amount of beer for its size. The plant has been in existence for about eight years, though the present company has been organized but six months. The company is as its name implies, a joint-stock one, and its officers are: S. S. Loeb, president, and A. T. Weinberg, secretary-treasurer.
The capital stock is $35,000. The plant consists of nine fine lots on Jefferson avenue running through to E street, so that enlargement at any time is a possibility as far as room is concerned. On this are four buildings. The office 25x80 feet and two and one-half stories high, part of which is used as a residence by the superintendent; an eighteen-stall stable measuring 30x44 feet and two stories in height; a store-house, and the brewery proper, which measures 120x40 feet and is four stories in height. The boiler and engine are 50-horsepower each, the latter being one of the Nagle company's of Erie, Penn. The refrigerating system which runs throughout the brewery, cools fifty barrels per hour, or has an ice-making capacity of fifty tons per day. The brew kettle is a 50-barrel one and can be used twice a day.
In spite of the fact that the plant as given above can turn out and is now turning out fifty barrels per day, work was commenced yesterday at enlarging its capacity by adding to its boilers, storage and producing capacity. The work will take ninety days, and when it is completed the brewery will be about doubled in size. The company does all its own hauling and keeps fifteen horses on the street all time.

As was indicated above, the company is now selling up to the full capacity of the brewery - fifty barrels per day, and the change is being made with a view to the extension of its business. The trade is chiefly local with some trade in the towns about. The company, like all others on the Sound, imports its malt from San Francisco, but a contemplated enlargement is the building of a malt house. The hops come from Puyallup. About 120 bales of these are carried in stock continually. The property of the company is held at $75,000."

Milwaukee Brg. Co. stein Tacoma, ca.1891
Milwaukee stein, ca.1892

The Tacoma City Directory for 1892 Lists Samuel S. Loeb as president, and Andrew Hemrich as secratery, so it appears that Hemrich has retaind an interest in the brewery.

Less than two years after establishing the stock company, on 30 April 1893, Leob and partners incorporated the business. The following day the Daily Ledger reported:

"Samuel S. Loeb and A. Weinberg, as trustees, filed articles yesterday incorporating the Milwaukee Brewing Company. The capital stock is $25,000 in 350 shares. The business will be to engage in and conduct the business of brewing, manufacturing and dealing in beer, ale, etc."

The Daily Ledger, on October 7, 1894, described the events of the German-American day held at the Interstate Fair and recognized the brewery for it's support. In so doing the Ledger also recounted its success story:

" - -  They have been indefatigable in their labors for the past three years to place this institution in the front rank of brewing houses in the west. And how have they succeeded? From a badly run-down, somewhat demoralized brewery in 1891, then known as the United States Brewery, they have now one of the most complete modern plants in the Pacific northwest.
The greatest care and pains have been exercised in the brewing and they are using the most approved machinery, and the brewing is under the exclusive care and personal attention of Kasper Hoffmeir¹ (sic), a man of many years experience as one of the most successful of the famous Bavarian brewers.
Through this manifold effort to reach the cream of excellence for the beer, the Milwaukee Brewing company may well feel proud, for they are not only making a beer of a far better quality than the bulk of the beer shipped from the east, but they have the satisfaction of knowing that they can count their friends by the thousands throughout the Sound country.
This extensive plant has a capacity of 125 barrels per day, and is even now storing the product from which Bock beer will be placed on the market in the spring. - - "

On December 30th of 1894, for their year-end recap of local industries, the Ledger reported that Milwaukee Brewing company had increased their annual output to 60,000 barrels, and that they had 23 employees with a payroll of $2250. The years output was valued at $200,000.

etched glass from Tacoma's Milwaukee Brewery
etched glass ca.1895

The 1896 "year-end look" by the Daily Ledger gave a glowing account of the Milwaukee Brewery. The following are excerpts of the lengthy article:

" - -  They are producing beer equal to the best eastern draught and bottled beer, which, up to three years ago was, to be found on sale at many representative places. Now the eastern draught is entirely gone, having been replaced with both the draught and the celebrated "Bohemian Export" bottled beer of the Milwaukee Brewing Company.

Special attention is paid to the bottling department, which is under the supervision of Mr. J. F. Yuncker, a bottler of fifteen years experience in the east. The superior quality of "Bohemian Export" beer has thoroughly established its reputation as the finest bottled product on the market.

In addition to previous improvements the company is just now finishing a two-story stock house, which will add 3,000 barrels to its storage capacity, insuring that, in spite of increasing business, the excellent quality will be maintained. One of the mainsprings of the company's success has been its ability to keep every customer (saloon) once secured. This results from the uniform fair dealings which has characterized its business. The company has always taken pride in promoting the success of its customers, knowing that their success means the success of the brewery.

Mr. S. S. Loeb is president of the highly successful company, and Mr. A. Weinberg, secretary and treasurer. Ben Moyses² is general agent. A. L. Bird³ has charge of the office work, and J. Henry Beckman is brewer and general superintendent."

Then in 1897, Loeb agreed to a merger with its neighboring brewery and formed a new corporation. On 30 August, 1897, Tacoma's Daily Ledger reported:

"The Milwaukee Brewing Company in Tacoma gave a warranty deed to the Puget Sound Brewing Company for its brewery and all property connected therewith for a consideration named in the deed of $1, and the Pacific Brewing & Malting Company filed articles of incorporation, with a capital stock of $500,000 to carry on the business of the two breweries. The trustees of the new company are William Virges of the Bonney Drug Company, treasurer; Anton Huth, president of the Puget Sound Brewing Company, president; S.S. Loeb, president of the Milwaukee Brewing Company, secretary."

Map of Tacoma 1890
map of Tacoma 1890 - click for larger image

The two breweries were equitably joined, and Loeb took the position of vice-president and secretary of the new Pacific Brewing & Malting Company.

The Milwaukee plant remained in operation for two years - until 1899, when PB&M purchased the local Donau Brewery, and closed the Milwaukee branch.

Not to waste a good design, the chromolithographer who designed the "M" & Eagle logo for Leob, utilized it for The Montana Brewing Co. of Great Falls, after the Milwaukee Brewery closed.

Montana Brg. Co. Porter label - Great Falls, MT


¹Brewmaster, Casper Hofmeier, prior to working for the Milwaukee Brewery, was a foreman at the Bay View Brewery in Seattle. In 1895, he and his step-son Frank Groger, who was also a brewer at the Milwaukee plant, moved to Ellensburg where they established the St. Louis Brewing Company.

² With the 1897 merger, Benjamin Moyses left Tacoma and started a new brewing venture in Rossland, B.C. with the establishment of the Lion Brewery Co., Ltd. By 1902 Moyses had sold his interests and was in Seattle as secretary/treasurer of Samuel Loeb's new Independent Brewing Company.

³ A. L. Bird accompanied Moyses to Rossland, B.C. and served as secretary of the new Lion Brewery Company.

J. Henry Beckman came to Tacoma from the Albert Braun brewery in 1891. When the Milwaukee plant merged with  PB&M he went with the Galland-Burke Brewing & Malting Co. in Spokane. While in Spokane he drew up plans, supervised the erection and installation of the plant for the new Sunset Brewery in Wallace, ID, and put the plant in operation. In 1902 he returned to Seattle to build the plant for Moyses & Loeb's Independent Brewing Co., in his capacity as brewer and plant superintendent.

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  • A special thank you to Deb Freedman, Tacoma historian, who provided additional information on Samuel Loeb and the Milwaukee Brewery.
  • And to Jeff Henry for the use of the Milwaukee Brewing Co. lager beer label.


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