Detroits Brewing Heritage

Everyone drank the same thing from the big three or four breweries. “What a cool opportunity that was,” said Erin Cottongim, referring to “Detroit Beer.” “Steve is such an awesome guy. “John Stroh III has a wonderful collection of Detroit and southeast Michigan beer labels,” he said. “We sent one of my assistants over, and he spent entire day scanning them.”

He discovered that approximately 2,300 breweries existed nationwide, and that Detroit’s beer industry was growing in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Prohibition put the industry in limbo until 1933 when the restriction was repealed. Johnson profiled the 10 breweries that brought large-scale production to Detroit in the late 1930s.

“In equipment, it is said to be one of the model breweries in the country,” the Detroit Free Press wrote in April 1912. “One of the most noticeable features to the visitor is the absolute cleanliness and the rigid precautions taken to secure a product that is perfect in its wholesomeness and freedom from any contamination.” Stroh’s is perhaps the beer most synonymous with Detroit, but the Motor City leesburg beer fest was once home to a slew of brews. Their Feelgood Tap raises funds that support local and regional nonprofits throughout Michigan with a focus on community, culture and wellness. When you buy a beer from the Feelgood Tap, you’re donating $2 to a local nonprofit doing good work, $1 from you and $1 from Batch. The company’s first award was won at the first annual Michigan Brewers Olympics in 2004.

Pfeiffer Brewing Company in 1889 and started brewing beer in 1892. He produced a Wurzburger beer, an export beer, and a traditional lager called Pfeiffer’s Famous Beer. It was a wage-friendly, Old-World beer for the steadfast workforce building a 20th Century America. Business was good, and Conrad Pfeiffer bought a Detroit city block with a rail line running down the middle of it, ready to usher his beer to the city beyond. On the site, he built what could only be described as a blue-collar castle. In it he brewed and bottled “the flavor millions favor,” as one can touted.

After realizing it was a German style brew house which happened to produce his favorite style of lager, Rieth knew immediately what he wanted. Born at the Tivoli Brewery at the corner of Mack and Hurlbut on Detroit’s East Side, Altes was known as “the beer that bewitches” in 1910. European trained brew masters modeled the brand after the crisp refreshing lagers of their homeland, made for the hardworking Detroit boom town. Altes was the beer of choice for many hardworking Detroiters by the time Prohibition hit in 1919, and according to legend it was still brewed during the dry years and sold at speakeasies across town. It was an immediate regional favorite after the beer ban was lifted in 1933.