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COM: November 2007

Peter Doelger Beer: circa 1940

Peter Doelger OI. Peter Doelger OI. Peter Doelger OI.

This month's can is a favorite from New Jersey.  I've dumped this before in New England but I picked up this example at a show.

Peter Doelger Brewery: 1936-1947

The Peter Doelger Brewery the produced the can pictured above was a descendent of the Houck Brewery in Harrison, New Jersey. In 1844 the Hauck family began brewing beer in New York City. In 1869 the founder's son, Peter Hauck, moved the brewery to Harrison in order to expand. He took over an existing brewery that had been opened in 1838. The new brewery was called "Hauck and Kaufman." After a fire destroyed the brewery in 1879 Hauck became the sole owner. The new, larger brick plant opened in 1881. The brewery expanded production continually, production growing from 24,000 barrels to over 100,00 barrels a year by 1900. The brewery sold three different lagers: "Hauck's Extra", Hauck's Special" and "Golden Brew." The labels on all three carried the Hauck logo, a large "H" superimposed over a log stemmed beer glass.

The Doelger name came into play when Peter Hauck's eldest grandson, Karl Hauck Bissell, wed Phoebe Doelger, the granddaughter of Peter Doelger. Doelger was a New York City brewer. When the Hauck family eventually bowed out of the business, the Doelger family took over.

 

A 1916 Peter Doelger advertisement.

Prohibition

New York and New Jersey finally went dry in 1920 when the 18th amendment went into effect. In 1925 the Hauck family gave up and sold their old brewery rather than wait for the dry years to end. The Harrison Brewery was the owned and operated by the Camden Holding Company. Under the new owners the brewery made "Near Beer" (no more than one half of one percent alcohol by volume). The "Near Beer" process required making real beer, form which the alcohol was then removed. The new owners, like many other brewers. sometimes failed to remove the alcohol and sold the illegal, fully alcoholic, product. The brewery's two onsite wells helped hide the plant's water intact, and therefore made it difficult for inspectors to measure production. Local police were uninterested in enforcing the local laws, allowing the brewery to continue production. Eventually, however, the feds caught up with the brewery's owners and they were shut down. Two of the brewery's owners were also gunned down in around 1931, presumably as part of a gang war between rum runners.

Post-Prohibition

In 1933 Prohibition was ending and the brewery, which had operated as the Harrison Beverage Company, changed its name to the West Hudson Brewing Company. It reverted back to the Harrison Beverage Co., Inc. in 1934. They returned to pre-prohibition brands by producing "Golden Brew." The brewery also tied itself to past history by printing their bottle labels to read "Harrison Beverage Co. Inc., successors to Peter Hauck & Co. Harrison, NJ." The trademark "H" used by the Harrison Brewing Company even resembled the old Hauck trademark. The new beer was not a success, however. In 1936 the brewery was leased by the Peter Doelger Company.

The new owners modernized the brewery and switched to another pre-prohibition brand, "Peter Doelger, First Prize Beer." The Doelger family made both a lager and an ale and designed their labels to look like their pre-prohibition product as well. They also made a "Half and Half" (half beer, half ale), a bock beer and a "Lambic Lager Beer" were introduced under the Doelger label. Sometime about 1940 they also made a pilsener for New York's Lion Brewing Company in an apparent effort to take advantage of unused capacity. They canned three kinds of beer. In 1936 they started canning their ale and beer and in about 1937 they canned their bock beer. None of their cans are common, but the bock beer cans are fairly rare. The Lion Beer can made by Peter Doelger is also rare.

The brewery could not compete in an over-crowded marketplace. They made their last batch of beer in 1946 and officially closed in 1947. The brewery was sold to the Camden County Beverage Company. Although a little bit of beer was produced there, the building was mostly used for storage. In 1951 the city took over the property and the building was abandoned. The city planned to use it as a bomb shelter, but their plans were abandoned in 1952 when a fire gutted the building. In 1957 the ruins were bulldozed to make room for a high school.

 

Name Changes

Peter Hauck, (505 Harrison Ave, Harrison) 1859-1882
Peter Hauck & Co. 1882-1891
United States Brewing Co., Ltd., New York City, Peter Hauck & Co.
(500/520 Harrison Ave) 1891-1920
Camden Holding Company 1925-1931 (apx)
Harrison Beverage Co. 1933
West Hudson Brewery, Inc. 1933-1934
Harrison Brewing Co., Inc. 1934
Peter Doelger Brewing Corp., aka: Peter Doelger Brg. Corp. of New York 1936-1948
Camden County Beverage Co. 1948-1949

Sources Used

 

 

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