By the middle of the century, San Jose had its fair share of local breweries. One of the first was The Eagle Brewery, which opened at the site of what is now the San Jose Convention Center in 1853 and produced Old Joe's Steam Ale. Many others followed, including Krumb's Brewery at Market and Santa Clara, The Vogt Brewery, The Santa Clara Brewery, and the largest of them all, The Fredericksburg Brewery.
The Fredericksburg Brewing Company, founded by a German tavern owner, Gottfried Frederick Krahenberg, commenced operations in 1869 at the intersection of Cinnabar and the Alameda (now the site of condominiums). By all accounts, the Fredericksburg Brewery was one of the largest, if not the largest brewing facility west of the Rockies. Following the completion of a major expansion in 1888, the campus featured three two story brick buildings, and a state of the art three story brew house. Elaborate spires and crenellated turrets gave the brewery a facade that some compared to a German Rhine castle. The majority of employees were from the large German population that lived in San Jose.
The facility sat on top of two artesian wells, one of which was 521 feet deep, and the other that was 175 feet deep. The two wells provided ample amounts of water to meet production volumes that approximated eight to ten thousand bottles a day, and sixty thousand barrels a year by the late 1880s. The barley was entirely sourced in Santa Clara. A variety of beers were produced, including the Brewery's "Export Lager," "Extra Pale," "Culmbacher," "Private Stock," "Genuine Salvator, Pilsner, and Bavaria Lager Beer." The massive production volumes served not only a very thirsty local population, but also beer lovers from the most distant portions of the Pacific Coast States and Territories, Central and South America, Old and New Mexico, Japan, Australia, and the Sandwich Islands.
|Brewed in San Jose, bottled in San Francisco|
The majority of Fredericksburg beer bottles were made in Illinois, however some were made in Germany. The company had a network of bottlers in the west. The primary bottler in San Jose was Charles Maurer, (later C. Maurer & Sons). Some of the other west coast bottlers included H. Loose in Lovelock, Nev.; O. G. Benschuetz in Reno, Nev.; C. E. Roos in Seattle, Wash.; Hoefer & Mevius in Redding, Cal.; the Oakland Bottling Co. in Oakland, Cal.; and C. Schnerr & Co. in Sacramento, Cal.
In 1890, a British syndicate called San Francisco Breweries, LTD, purchased a controlling interest in the Fredericksburg Brewery. The syndicate had already acquired about ten other breweries in the San Francisco Bay Area for the purpose of consolidating them and liquidating the unproductive and redundant assets. As Prohibition approached, only the Fredericksburg Brewery and two other acquired breweries had survived the syndicate's liquidation activities, the San Francisco earthquake and fires of 1906, and a significant wave of transformation and modernization in the brewing and bottling industries.
Sadly, the Fredericksburg Brewery ceased operations in 1918 when San Jose voted to become a dry city, two years before Prohibition became the law of the land. The San Jose law passed under the auspices of a WWI conservation initiative, however prohibition was apparently the true, unstated motive behind the vote. Many breweries continued operating during the Prohibition years by switching production to sodas and near beer, however, the Fredereicksburg Brewery remained closed.
Following the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the brewery re-opened as the Pacific Brewing & Malting Company and re-launched the Fredericksburg brand. In 1951, the brewery became Wieland's Brewing Company, and less than a year later, became the western branch of the Falstaff Brewing Corp. The plant finally closed its doors for good in 1973, and was demolished in 1980.