The DuBois Brewery
by: Ken Williams
Frank Hahne Sr. founded the DuBois Brewery, coming to DuBois most likely around 1896 or 1897 although sources differ on the exact year for the founding of the local brewery. Hahne was a native of Neiderfeleris Germany and had been born on March 31, 1856. Orphaned at a young age, he began training in the brewery business in Germany while a teenager. In 1875 he immigrated to this country and found employment in a Milwaukee brewery.
Shortly thereafter he moved on to Iowa, continuing in his career in the brewery business. After some three years there he is said to have moved on to South Dakota where he engaged in farming for two years. In 1881 he moved to Chicago and got back in the brewery business. On May 30, 1883 Hahne married Carrie A. Trom of Chicago.
They had four children: Emelia, Maria, Frank, and Carolla. The Hahne's had come to Pennsylvania by 1887 with him seemingly continuing in the brewing business the entire time. He was by then well experienced in the trade and at one time was reportedly brew-master for Eberhardt and Ober, a brewery that had been founded in 1848 on Pittsburgh’s North Side.
Arriving in DuBois before the turn of the century, Hahne sold stock to finance his ambitious enterprise, but ever the wise businessman, he retained the controlling shares and held the title of company President. Other early officers in the enterprise were Jack Weil, vice president; Frank I. Schwem, treasurer, and Major Israel McCreight, secretary. Mike Winter is also mentioned in some sources as a Hahne partner.
Hahne probably had several reason for selecting DuBois as the site for his brewery but the one most often noted is the supply of quality water the area offered. To preserve that quality Hahne is said to have purchased some 2300 acres around the DuBois reservoir as insurance against pollution of the local water source.
Interestingly, one of the labels for Hahne's DuBois Pilsener Beer specifically has a notation that reads, "From The Land of Pure Mountain Spring Water." ( See the slide show following this article )
The DuBois Brewing Company was a fast growing venture and soon had nearly a hundred employees and at one time even established branch offices at Buffalo, N. Y., and Newark, N. J. The main office, however, always remained in DuBois.
The DuBois Brewery was an impressive facility with a huge brew house, power plant, icehouse, office annex, boiler-house, shipping area, its own fleet of trucks and its own railroad siding and more. There was even a reflecting pool-fishpond that offered a restive spot near the office building.
The brewery’s 90 and 125 feet high smokestacks dominated the DuBois skyline from the brewery’s location just off Main Street for over a century. The larger one, towering above the brewery, became widely accepted, and is still fondly remembered, as a DuBois landmark.
It is said that the brewery included kettles that could handle some 300 barrels of beer being brewed at one time.
A current beer barrel (US measurement) contains 31 gallons so the DuBois Brewery kettle’s capacity apparently would have been some 9,300 gallons of beer. That’s the impressive equivalent of 600 kegs of DuBois Brewery beer or 4,140 cases of the local product in a single filling.
Hahne was also president of the DuBois Storage and Carting Company; a director of the DuBois Electric and Traction Company; a director of the United Traction Company, and at one time was president of the J. Mahler Glass Company
Hahne is even reported to have had his own farm of nearly 200 acres near Luthersburg and is said to have marketed the pressed and dried leftover grain materials from the brewing process as cattle feed. He had a noted model orchard known state-wide and had developed a firm interest in the breeding of thoroughbred horses and cattle, especially Percherons and Holsteins. He had an 1800-pound Percheron stallion appropriately named "DuBois" which reportedly won many blue ribbons for the local brewery's President.
Hahne's first wife died in 1896 and Hahne was remarried in 1900 to Maria Strey who passed away on May 16, 1910 In 1903 the Hahne’s had built an impressive but not gaudy yellow brick "mansion" above the brewery along Main Street that still remains today.
Hahne was a member of the Roman Catholic Church in DuBois and belonged to the DuBois Elks, the Acorn Club of DuBois, a Pittsburgh based German Club, and was a member of the Pennsylvania Brewer's Association.
Hahne had a large number of products under label which his brewery marketed, ( see slide show below ) the most famous of which was "DuBois Budweiser." The name "Budweiser" had, however, sparked a battle with Anheuser-Busch that lasted over half a century.
In 1908 Anheuser-Busch filed its first infringement suit against the DuBois Company for marketing DuBois Budweiser, but dismissed it without prejudice the very next year citing as the reason for ending litigation the ill health of Adolphus Busch. The suit was refilled in 1940 some 35 years after the introduction of DuBois Budweiser. The issue dragged on through the courts for years with the DuBois Brewery finally prevailing in the lengthy controversy.
Almost at the height of the DuBois Brewery's years of production the United States enacted "Prohibition," a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol which remained in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution and affected breweries across the nation including the DuBois Brewery.
Practically without skipping a beat, the DuBois Brewery made a transition during prohibition to the legal production of near-beer and soft drinks while expanding its ice production into the profitable H and G ice company business.
Some of Hahne's "near beer" labels read "Type Beer, Food and Tonic, or Brewed For Family Use." All of Hahne's DuBois-based products which were sold during Prohibition met government rules and requirements.
Reportedly, the DuBois Brewery was one of just a handful of breweries which had not violated Prohibition. As a result, when the Twenty-first Amendment was enacted ending Prohibition, the DuBois Brewery was one of the first to be re-licensed and to resume its successful beer-brewing operations.
Frank Hahne Sr. passed away in 1932, leaving the company to Frank Jr., his only son. Unfortunately Frank Hahne Jr.'s only child died in infancy, leaving no family heir to the Hahne owned business.
For that and possibly for other unnamed reasons, after 35 years as CEO, Hahne Jr. sold the brewery to the Pittsburgh Brewing Company in 1967. Within five years of that sale, the once highly respected and profitable DuBois Brewery would be closed forever.
The Pittsburgh Brewing Company, as the new owners, quickly settled the long-standing controversy over the "Budweiser" name with Anheuser-Busch, reportedly garnering some $1 million in the transaction and then, in 1972, Pittsburgh Brewing terminated all production in DuBois.
Ironically, against the wishes of Anheuser-Busch Company heir and CEO, August Busch IV, the Anheuser-Busch Company itself, by then the sole maker of "Budweiser" ( along with its other beers ) was sold to Belgian brewer "InBev" in 2008 and is no longer an American owned company.
As a result the name "Budweiser," once proudly brewed by the local DuBois Brewery, is no longer even an American-held beer name. With the takeover"Anheuser-Busch InBev" based in Brussels, became the world’s largest brewer.
Five years earlier, before the sale of Anheuser-Busch, the once majestic DuBois Brewery had been reduced to a massive pile of rubble which was slowly, sadly, and without ceremony hauled away thus ending over 100 years of community pride.
BeerCollectors Pa, Wikipedia, BestBeerStuff, Earthlink, SFBrewing, SamSteins, MetNews, BeerHistory,
BeerPosterBook, History of Clearfield Co by Roland D. Swoope, Jr., 1911, Worthopedia
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