Passing of Retired Brewmaster William M. Moeller

In 2017 I wrote a post on Brooklyn Lager, an iconic beer of the craft beer renaissance made by Brooklyn Brewery in New York.

I quoted language from the website of Brooklyn Brewery explaining how William M. Moeller, a former head brewer at Schmidt Brewery in Philadelphia, was commissioned by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter of then-fledgling Brooklyn Brewery to brew Brooklyn Lager at a brewery in Utica, NY.

Mr. Moeller was inspired by brewing logs of his grandfather, also a brewer who had brewed in Brooklyn ca.1900.

Recently I was contacted by Mr. Stephen L. Avery, son-in-law of Mr. Moeller, who informed me Mr. Moeller, then a resident of Valley Forge, PA, sadly passed away recently at 95. Mr. Avery suggested readers of this blog might be interested to read the Obituary of Mr. Moeller, to which I readily agreed.

It describes the impressive career of Mr. Moeller and his many accomplishments in American brewing over almost 70 years. American brewing history has clearly been enriched by his long and fruitful career as brewmaster, brewery executive, and consulting brewmaster.

My sincere condolences to Mr. Avery, his wife Mary Ann Avery, and their family upon the passing of Mr. Moeller as noted.

 

OBITUARY- William M. “BILL” MOELLER

 

William Moeller age 95 a resident of Shannondell at Valley Forge for 12 years passed away peacefully Wednesday, January 26th, 2022. Mr. Moeller was born at home, in Easton PA on April 2nd, 1926 and was one of the last of the WW II brew masters.

 

By virtue of his antecedents, he pursued one of the oldest and noblest professions-Brewing. He was a 4th generation brewmaster whose paternal great grandfather, grandfather, father and two uncles were all brewmasters. His grandfather started the Moeller tradition of brewing in America after migrating from Germany in 1887 to the New York area where he brewed for various breweries there, and later in Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania. Along the way he collected various patents, including one in 1910 on beer processing during fermentation and cellaring operations. He was also one of Max Hassel’s (Reading’s notorious bootlegger during Prohibition) lead brewmasters.

 

Mr. William M. Moeller served in the U.S. Merchant Marine during and after WWII, sailing in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and south Pacific war zones. After attending the University of Cincinnati and in keeping with German tradition, he apprenticed for three years in 1950 under his brewmaster uncle, and subsequently attended the U.S Brewer’s Academy in New York state. Thus began a brewing career which spanned almost 7 decades. In 1953 with a freshly minted brewing school-diploma he was hired by the Reading Brewery as a foreman/supervisor in the brewing department, eventually assuming the duties of quality control manager. After which he took a position as Assistant Brewmaster and Director of Quality Control at the Horlacher Brewing Company in Allentown, gradually assuming more management responsibilities. Eventually he was hired as Brewmaster by the Ortlieb Brewing Company in Philadelphia. While at Ortlieb’s he brewed interesting and imaginative beers like Neuweilers, McSorley’s (for the famous ale house in lower Manhattan) and Old English 800, the high-powered malt liquor. As his career moved forward so did his management responsibilities, joining Schmidt’s of Philadelphia as Brewmaster of special products. In this role, he applied his artisan brewing skills to special beers like Prior Double Dark, Tiger Ale and Birell (a non-alcoholic beer) brewed under license for the Hurlimann Brewery of Switzerland. After leaving Schmidt’s he became Consulting Brewmaster for Brooklyn and Dock Street Breweries and many other craft breweries. Mr. Moeller played an important role in the early development of the craft brewing industry in New York, Philadelphia and south eastern Pennsylvania from the mid-1980s until the late 2010s.

 

He quickly realized that craft brewers took their beer seriously, and their goals were to make world class beers. By leading with his experience and knowledge he helped them formulate and develop the beer styles they so passionately desired – mentoring them along the way. Aside from Brooklyn and Dock Street, Mr. Moeller was Consulting Brewmaster for: Tun Tavern, Hoboken, Poor Henry’s, Sunnybrook Brewery and other familiar brand names. His beers medaled nationally and internationally, and his Brooklyn Lager has been a consistent favorite of “Consumer Reports” over the years. Mr. Moeller also wrote and lectured on scientific requirements and a diverse array of disciplines required in brewing.

 

Mr. Moeller was well known for his “formal 6 course sit-down beer dinners,” staged at various area restaurants in which he matched appropriate real beer styles with each course while doing a running commentary on the marriage of real beer and food and the sensual pleasures derived from cooking with beer; emphasizing the right kind of beer to compliment or replace water, stock or milk. He also enjoyed roaming about the German and Austrian countryside with colleagues, talking to and engaging German brewers on the subject of beer, brewing, cooking with beer and German history. He was an avid collector of German Mettlach Steins and late 18th and early 19th century American antique furniture and ceramics.

 

Bill was very active in civic affairs and had board associations with the Berks County Community Foundation, Reading Symphony, Reading Museum, Boyertown Museum of Historical Vehicles (charter member), Boyertown Historical Society (charter member), Boyertown Library, Boyertown Municipal Employees Pension Fund, Boyertown Rotary and was a Mason and member of Lodge #741 Boyertown for over 65 years. Finally, along with his four stepsons, he started the Margaret B. Moeller Memorial Fund for Alzheimer’s Home Care Companions.

 

He is survived by a daughter Mary Ann Avery and her husband Stephen who reside in Indianapolis and a son Michael and his wife Kimberly who live in Gilbertsville, PA. His late wife of 33 years, Margaret B. Moeller predeceased him in 2004. He leaves 4 grandsons, Andrew and Skyler Avery, Peter and Alexander Moeller, 1 stepdaughter: Beth A. Webb and 4 stepsons: Daniel B. Boyer III, Geoffrey F. Boyer, Randolph W. Boyer and Henry K. Boyer and 12 step grandchildren. Contributions may be made to the “Margaret B. Moeller Fund for Alzheimer’s Home Care Companions”, c/o Berks County Community Foundation, 23 S. Reading Avenue, Boyertown, PA 19512. In addition, contributions can be made to Alzheimer’s Association National Capital Area Chapter, 8180 Greensboro Drive, Suite 400, McLean, VA 22102.

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Passing of Retired Brewmaster William M. Moeller”

  1. Well Bill was beyond a friend so it’s difficult to really put into words how deeply I was impacted by my friendship over the many years we were together. Just a few years back John Taylor and I took Bill and his son Mike out for a brunch in Phoenixville, and of course it was a delightful visit. Would always remember that He called both John and I Steve, to which we would have a belly laugh over. Will always remember the Christmas letter he would compose as it brought back memories and conservative views.Bill was a kind and generous person, and would do anything for you. He will be sorely missed bur certainly not forgotten. My life was truly enhanced by my just knowing my friend Bill. A great guy!!!

    Reply
  2. Thank you for posting this and his obituary.

    Mr. Moehler was my neighbor on East Phila Ave in Boyertown. As a kid, I collected beer in the mid-70’s. Mr. Moehler would at times, drop a bag over the fence into our yard with beer cans inside for me, including the Ortlieb’s bicentennial cans. I still have those cans in my parent’s attic. I last saw Mr. Moehler at my mother’s ‘Celebration of Life’ seven years ago. I had the chance to sit with him and discuss his life in brewing. He was a very proud and distinguished man.

    Reply
  3. Thanks for posting this, Gary. I have been familiar with Mr. Moeller’s brewing accomplishments for many years, having been raised in the Pennsylvania brewing tradition myself, and those accomplishments are many, as noted in his obit. He and the other German descendants who helmed Schmidt’s in its heyday were truly dedicated to their craft and made some delicious beers, Prior Double Dark and McSorley’s being among the last of those.

    There aren’t many brewers around today who deserve the title of Master Brewer, though many adopt the term with little regard for what it actually means, or used to require. Bill Moeller embodied every possible definition of the term.

    Reply
    • Mr. Komlenic,

      Thank you for your very kind comments about my father. My brother Michael and I, as well as the rest of the family, are most appreciative. It means a lot during times such as this.

      Warm regards,
      Mary Ann Avery

      Reply

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