Häberle’s Bitte!

Many communities had non-English language newspapers for a considerable period, not just in the U.S. but Canada and Mexico. In Syracuse, NY in the 1870s, no less than two German newspapers operated, one, the Syracuse Union, endured until 1941 when America’s entry into WW II put paid to continued publication. Syracuse had a strong German population from the later 1800s until assimilation and the Second World War tended to blur the the distinctiveness of the community.

In the 1930s, the Union carried beer advertisements, probably reflecting a long history. The example shown, from a 1934 issue of the Union, appealed to the German-American ethos with its recitation of brewing ingredients and German rendering of “dry hopping”.

Of course, thousands of miles from an increasingly deranged and militarized homeland, the beer presented to German-speakers in 1930s Syracuse differed from classic German models (dunkel, helles, etc.). First, a majority of the brands mentioned had names derived from English, or at least Anglo-American, brewing. Second, most or all the beers probably included non-malt adjunct such as corn or rice, almost invariable in U.S. brewing by the 1930s.

The brewer, Haberle Congress Brewing, was a local stalwart with origins dating to the 1850s. Despite being in America almost three generations, the business projected a Germanic image, but this may have been – probably was – mostly a question of marketing. The brewery was founded by German-born Benedict Haberle, a veteran of the 1848 Revolution who fled to avoid the bounty on his head. Many American breweries were founded or staffed, and the same for lager houses and saloons, by veterans of the 1848 liberal revolt in Central Europe.

Harberle Congress was one of hundreds of German-American breweries revived after Prohibition ended in 1933. This May, 1933 news article shows the sophisticated planning that went into creating the post-Pro incarnation of Haberle. In many ways it was a completely new business albeit helmed by Frank C. Biehle, a grandson of the founder. As always, past and present intermingled, an omnipresent feature of the brewing industry.

Frank Biehle died in 1944, see this link for informative detail on his life and career. The brewery continued to be managed by family descendants and endured until 1962 when it was bought out by a brewery in Rochester, NY. It was the last local brewery still standing (figuratively). From thirty or more breweries post-Civil War, Syracuse came down to one and then none, until the craft revival restored both lager and ale traditions starting some 20 years later.

So today, Gordon Biersch, Middle Ages Brewing, Empire Brewing, and others carry the flag for fine beer. Indeed I read Empire’s building incorporated bricks from the dismantled Haberle brewery (the bottling house is pictured pre-Prohibition), a satisfying link to the past.

The ad shown represents a kind of mid-point in both American brewing and ethnic history…

N.B. Black Bass Ale was renamed Black River Ale later in the 1930s, for reasons that will be evident to most readers.

Note re images: the first image above was extracted from the original ad linked in the text, via the New York newspapers historical digital archive. The second image was sourced here and is believed in the public domain. Images are included for educational and historical purposes. The intellectual property belongs solely to the owner or authorized users.  All feedback welcomed.