Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Co.
Life Span: 1860-1924
Location: 18th Street and Canalport Avenue
Inter Ocean, March 22, 1908
The Pure Food exposition, held in the Coliseum last November, was one of the wonders of the city at the time. The exhibits had not only the value of showing the high qualities of food stuffs, but revealed the possibilities of beauty with which such food stuffs could be displayed.
Those exhibits that won the prizes were judged on the points of purity, quality, attractiveness, and general goodness. To the general public the pure food award means simply a notice upon an article, usually a representation of a medal or a certificate. But to those who know the careful consideration with which these prizes are awarded by the judges of the exhibit, a pure food award means a guality that is unsurpassed anywhere in the world.
The winning of the first prize in the awards for pure beer by the Edelweiss brand of the P. Schoenhofen Brewing company is an instance where the judgment of the commission fell out to the advantage of a big Chicago con-cern.
The P. Schoenhofen Brewing company has made this beer their specialty. The company is one of the oldest in Chicago and one of the best known in the United States. Peter Schoenhofen, the founder of the company, was a prominent flgure in German circles of Chicago for forty years. He was well known in the business world, where he had the reputation of entire integrity and even better known In the city for his unostentatious gifts to charity. He had a way of not letting his left hand know what his right hand was doing. His gifts to charity were never calculated by him and certainly by no one else. His charity work and his business Integrity marked him among a claes of men all noted for many of the same characteristic traits.
The present president of the P. Schoenhofen Brewing company is Joseph Theurer, son-in-law of Peter Schoenhofen, for Mr. Theurer’s wife was Miss Emma Schoenhofen. Mr. Theurer is a native of Philadelphia, and is a college graduate. He is also a graduate of the brewing school, one of those institutions where the most rigid technical training is given to the aspirants for the title of a brewmaster. Mr. Theurer served his apprenticeship in the brewing pro-fesslon In the K. G. Sebmidt brewery. He is the ex-president of the United States Brewers’ association and is still one of the directors of the association.
Mr. Theurer has carrled on the work of Mr. Schoenhofen in keeping up the high standard of the products of the Institution. Great expense is involved in keeping up this high standard, but the management has determined that none shall be spared to do it. The best machinery has been installed in the great plant. The best workmen bave been secured and brought from all over the world to the Schoenhofen brewery. The question has been always there not how great the expense would be, but how the best results might be obtained. The one important point to be considered from the president down throush the rank and file of the employes is the question of keeping up the high standard of the Edelweiss beer.
The Schoenhofen brewery is the largest of it kind in the state of Illinois and one of the largest in the country. It covers approximately fifteen acres and gives employment to hundreds of men. So large has the shipping end of the business become that the switch tracks within the brewery premises cover over one-half a mile, and the brewery has Its own engine for the switching back and forth of cars. During the last summer not less than thirty cars were being loaded or unloaded at the same moment at the brewery. Mr. Theurer. the president, long ago decided that in order to brew the best beer. It was necessary to have not only the best materials that could be secured in the world, but also the most up to date machinery and buildings that could be secured for d the purpose. The result is that the buildings and the machinery of the Schoenhofen plant are kept up to the highest point of perfection.
Absolate Cleanliness Imperative.
Absolute cleanliness is the keynote of the plant. The visitor to the brewery is more than amazed at discovering the perfection of the system of sanitation and hygiene existing there. The usual public idea of a brewers is of a great, dark, damp place. Nothing could be further from the reality of the Schoenhofen institution. Every possible precaution is taken to prevent the beer from receiving any impure or foreign substance during is manufacture or aging. Not only is the beer. Itself kept absolutely free from contaet with the air, so as to prevent any contamination from entering it, but the entire plant is scrubbed constantly by a force of men whose only duty it is to see that the place is kept scrupulously clean.
So clean are the cellars and the brew-house that the most fastidious would not be afrald to eat a meal off the spotless floor. The air in the cellars where the beer is aged is filtered and of a state of purity that would surprise the. woman who thinks that she has the open air craze and keeps I the air of her house pure, so much better is it than what can be secured by any ordinary process. The kegs in which the beer. is placed are sterilized before they are used by a most careful process.
From the time that the beer leaves the kettle up to the time It is served on the table It js handled and kept, in vessels that not only scrupulously clean, but are sterilized every time they are used. The bottles In which the beer is placed are washed five times before they are filled and again after they are filled.
To secure hops that are good enough for the best beer, the company imports a part of those it uses from Saazer and Bavaria, while the United States furnishes Its quota.
The brewery has not been able to purchase yeast pure enough to use in the manufacture of its beer. For this reason it has been forced to the expedient of manufacturing its own yeast. This Is an example of just how carefally the process is conducted. The nutritive quality and the purity of the beer are the two points most carefully considered in the manufacture.
Another point that the company considers carefully is the age of the beer. The beer requires from four to six months’ storage in the cold refrigerator cellar, where it is kept at the freezing point to finish and to properly age the beer. The Schoenhoten company will not allow any beer out of iis brewery to the consumer that has not been kept et least four months. This is an Instance of the precautions that are taken to make the Edelweiss of such a standard that it could become a prize winner.
The sales of the Schoenhofen brewery increased from 187,000 barrels in 1897 to over 425,000 barrels in 1907.
Schoenhofen Brewery Company
Chicago Tribune, July 5, 1984
From the intersection of 18th Street and Canalport Avenue, you can see a remarkable mix of the old and new in Chicago. From that point, you can view Sears Tower bracketed by the huge. red masonry, walls of two buildings of the old Schoenhofen Brewing Co., the only pre-Prohibition brewery in Chicago that stands intact.
Where Edelweiss beer was once brewed, the city hopes to soon have new industrial firms blooming. Officials are attempting to preserve the best of the old brewery complex, which was started in the Civil War era, and to make it a springboard for the redevelopment of the area, which lies on the east fringe of Pilsen.
In 1977, the city designated the 17-building Schoenhofen brewing complex (bounded by Clinton, 16th, Canal and 18th Streets and Canal-port Avenue) as an urban renewal area with the intent of using it as a nucleus for industrial redevelopment of the rundown, largely abandoned Near South Side location.
There wasn’t much action for several years. But now a wrecking company retained by the city has completed the razing of several old structures at the brewery site, and demolition of more buildings is to begin within a month.
Robert Ruhloff, spokesman for the city’s Department of Economic Development, said officials hope this summer to be able to advertise for sale the vacant parcels in the industrially zoned area.
Ruhloff said several of the buildings are occupied by companies that intend to continue operating in the old brewing complex, and some of them hope to expand. The firms include General Packaging Products Inc., Santell Chemical Co., Galaxy Chemical Co., Fawn Vending Co. and Folding Guard Co.
Ruhloff said the city hopes to provide landmark status for the two major brewery buildings the decorative administration build-ing, built in 1886, and the massive powerhouse, constructed in 1902. “Although they are structurally sound, both buildings have been vacant for some time and they have been vandalized, and they need to be mothballed until developers can be found who have the capital and the ideas to revitalize them,” Ruhloff said.
He said some Pilsen area groups envision the powerhouse as the home for several small businesses, while various proposals have sug. gested turning the administration building into an office center, art school or condominium complex.
Industrial redevelopment of the vacant parcels is being pushed strongly by the Pilsen Housing and Business Alliance to provide jobs for Pilsen residents, most of whom are Mexican.
From 1860 to 1919, the Schoenhofen Brewery was a booming business that provided thousands of jobs while filling the glasses of thirsty Chicagoans with Edelweiss beer.
Chicago’s first brewery, Schulz and Haas, was started in 1833, the year Chicago was incorporated as a town. By the time Peter Schoenhofen, a native of Derbach, Germany, immigrated to Chicago in 1852, at the age of 25, the city already had severai breweries and he went to work for a couple of them.
In 1860, he opened his brewery and in 1862 he began construction at the 18th and Canalport site. Starting with a 600 barrel-a-year production capacity, he and his family steadily added building after building brew houses, grain houses, warehouses, a cooperage, stables until by 1910, the firm could boast of an annual production capability of 1.2 million barrels. As the Edelweiss flowed out of the brewery, money rolled in to enabling Schoenhofen to build three houses on prestigious Prairie Avenue, one for each of his daughters. When Schoenhofen died in 1893, there were 34 breweries in the city, and the city was consuming 2.8 million barrels a year, second only to New York.
Under the direction of Schoenhofen’s successor, his son-in-law, Joseph Theurer, Edelweiss sales continued to grow, allowing Theurer to build a 40-room mansion at 2466 N. Lakeview Ave., which later was sold to the Wrig-ley family and in recent years became the subject of a lengthy landmark battle.
With the advent of Prohibition in 1919, the suds stopped flowing at the Schoenhofen brewery, which continued for a while as a grain warehousing and shipping firm. In 1933, the Schoenhofen brewery underwent reorganization under court supervision and under new ownership became known as the Schoenhofen Edelweiss Co., which continued to brew Edelweiss at other Chicago locations.
The brewing company finally ceased operations in 1970.
The Western Brewer: and Journal of the Barley, Malt and Hop Trades, August, 1919
Perhaps the most notable advertising campaign of Specialty Advertising is the one that is now being conducted by the Schoenhofen Co. of Chicago to advertise Edelweiss. The basis of this notable campaign is the “Toy Boy” originated and developed by the Ostenrieder Advertising Agency of Chicago. “Toy Boy” is the name applied to a series of twenty or more pleasantly humorous characters designed in the style of the brightly colored wooden toys that are associated with Noah’s Ark of our child hood days.
1920 advertisement for the Schoenhofen Company shows the Toy Boys attempting to put a bottle of Edelweiss Light beer on ice.
These figures, of which there are some twenty. typify various popular outdoor and indoor sports including golf, billiards, tennis, fishing, motoring etc. They average about 27 inches in height and are die-cut from cardboard of such thickness as to prevent bending or breaking. On the back of each is an easel device that enables the “Boy” to stand alone. The figures are finished in the brightest of colors—red, green, yellow and blue predominating.
The “Toy Boy” has been a decided advertising hit. He is a long range attention getter and has played a big part in making Edelweiss popular over a wide territory. Aside from the cut-outs, which can be used in show windows or any place in the store, these characters appear in practically all of the Schoenhofen Co. advertising. They are used in newspaper ads, billboards, wall signs, and all of the many other mediums employed by this company. They are inseparably associated with Edelweiss and are now so well known that they would accomplish their purpose without the name of the beverage appearing.
The Schoenhofen Co. also issues a booklet showing all of the “Toy Boy” characters. It is handsomely printed in full color by the offset lithographic process and each page is devoted to a character with a jingle indicating the advantage of using Edelweiss as a beverage. This booklet, which is called “The Funny Little Sports,” has been issued in large editions. It has proved wonder fully popular, not only with children but grown persons as well. A cardboard fan showing the Edelweiss “Toy Boys” has also proved popular.
Here are some more of the entertaining little Toy Boys that are now used in practically all of the advertising of the Schoenhofen Co. They are used in newspaper ads., on the billboards and in many other ways. This series was originated by the Ostenrieder Advertising Corporation of Chicago. Few ad. campaigns have won so much attention as this.
Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Co
Canal Port and 18th Streets
Robinson Fire Map
Volume 2, Plate 7