Marker would memorialize Port’s history of brewing

Board backs plan for plaque at building that is once again a brewery
Ozaukee Press staff

When you look at the Van Ells-Schanen American Legion Hall on Lake Street, the history of brewing in Port Washington probably isn’t the first thing on your mind.

Brewmaster Adam Draeger wants to change that.

He is proposing erecting a historical marker at the site that would outline its brewing history, beginning when Jacob Moritz founded Lakeside Brewery there in 1847, and continuing to 2018, when Draeger’s Inventors Brewpub in the Legion hall began producing beer.

The proposal took a step forward Tuesday when the Board of Public Works recommended the city allow the sign to be erected in the right of way and agreed to maintain it. 

Draeger would be responsible for paying the $1,825 cost of the sign itself, officials said.

“He is most enthusiastic about it,” Geri Zehren of the Port Washington Historical Society said.

The sign talks about the fact that in 1881 Gottlieb Biedermann and John Bostwick took over ownership of Lakeside Brewery and lagered beer in a 100-foot-long tunnel until the advent of refrigeration in 1916.

It notes that the brewery was renamed Port Washington Brewing Co. in 1905, then expanded and in 1915 renamed Old Port Brewery, which produced three brands of beer — most notably, Premo beer, which was known as “the beer that made Milwaukee furious.”

During Prohibition, manager and part-owner Herbert Labahn was fined and jailed for manufacturing beer and the brewery fined $18,800, the sign noted, adding that when Prohibition was lifted, the first beer produced at the site was Old Port Lager.

In 1947, the brewery closed and its buildings sold to the city. Only the bottle washing building survived demolition, and in 1958 it was given to the Legion for its clubhouse.

Seventy years after the last beer was produced there, Inventors began producing beer there once again, the sign notes.

“I look at the whole thing and I think it’s kind of cool,” Ald. Pat Tearney, a member of the board, said. “It’s in a neat location where a lot of people will see it.”

It’s especially fitting given that a short retaining wall just south of the hall was once a portion of the north wall of the brewery, Ald. Mike Gasper, a member of the board, noted.

“That’s the last remnant of the brewery,” he said.

Zehren said the marker will join a number of others in the city, including historical markers  noting the site of the Wisconsin Chair Co. on the lakefront and the Civil War draft riots at the historic Ozaukee County Courthouse, Leland Stanford’s law office on Main Street, the Eghart House on Grand Avenue, and the king post truss bridge over Sauk Creek.

The Common Council is expected to consider the proposal when it meets on March 19.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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