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The vanishing brew


read 9363 times • 8 replies • posted 10/2/2009 10:26:48 AM

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jdbjicase
Hi. I’m new to this site, but I think I might find what I’m looking for here. I live just down the road from the Warsaw Brewery in Warsaw, IL. Nowadays it’s a bar/restaurant, but back in the day it was the home of Burgemeister and Old Tavern beers. These labels moved out when the brewery closed its doors in the 1970’s, and I’m trying to find out where they went. My dad told me they were shipped out to California, and he saw Burgie out there once upon a time. Google doesn’t know anything about the Burgemeister label, and after hours of searching, I’m asking the beer experts out there in cyberspace. Does anybody know about the Burgemeister or Burgie brand? Is it still made anywhere, and if so, where? I’d love to at least know where the beer went to die. It’s almost like tracking down a piece of local history.
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NobleSquirrel 3437:209
Originally posted by jdbjicase
Hi. Iím new to this site, but I think I might find what Iím looking for here. I live just down the road from the Warsaw Brewery in Warsaw, IL. Nowadays itís a bar/restaurant, but back in the day it was the home of Burgemeister and Old Tavern beers. These labels moved out when the brewery closed its doors in the 1970ís, and Iím trying to find out where they went. My dad told me they were shipped out to California, and he saw Burgie out there once upon a time. Google doesnít know anything about the Burgemeister label, and after hours of searching, Iím asking the beer experts out there in cyberspace. Does anybody know about the Burgemeister or Burgie brand? Is it still made anywhere, and if so, where? Iíd love to at least know where the beer went to die. Itís almost like tracking down a piece of local history.


Try googling "Burgermeister beer" and I think you’ll get your answers...
10/2/2009 11:27:42 AM

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jdbjicase
I’ve tried both spellings and all I get is ads for people selling old cans, bottles, signs, etc. I’m looking for somewhere to get information on what happened to the company, not wanting to stock up on someone else’s empties.
10/3/2009 3:32:56 PM

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PhillyBeer2112 2514:65
JessKidden might know this one, unfortunately none of my books mention these brands.
10/3/2009 8:47:34 PM

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PhillyBeer2112 2514:65
This page hints that a different beer under the same name came from San Francisco:
http://www.falstaffbrewing.com/interest.htm

Scroll down to 1972, and it mentions how Falstaff "purchase the old Burgermeister brewery in San Francisco from bankrupt Meister Brau of Chicago. Before it was owned by Meister Brau, this was also a Schlitz brewery for seven years and had a history dating back to 1868"

So either the SF beer was a different brand, or maybe that Meister Brau bought the Burgermeister name from Warsaw, though there’s no mention of it here, and Warsaw closed only 1 year prior, so its odd they would call it the "old Burgermeister brewery" except that maybe (and this is pure speculation) prior to 1935, when Warsaw reopened after prohibition with the Burgermeister brand, that Burgie had previously been produced at this brewery in San Fran but was lost during prohibition, and it was Warsaw that revived the brand.
If either is the case, it sounds like Burgie and Old Tavern died with Warsaw in 1971.

Its also worth noting that Hudepohl/Christian Moerlein has a Burger beer, but it seems that one has a long history in Cincinnati and is not a revised Burgermeister.
10/3/2009 9:10:36 PM

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Skyview 5150:
According to the ABA Archives (soon to be transferred to the National Beer Museum Library in Potosi in 2010), the Burgemeister of the former Warsaw Brewing Company in Illinois and Burgermeister in California were two different beers and had no connection with each other. I could write a very long detailed history on the Burgermeister/Burgie beer of Burgermeister/San Francisco/Schlitz/Theo. Hamm/Pabst which disappeared in 1979, but I will give you information on the Warsaw labels only.

The Burgemeister brand was started in 1934 by the former owners of the Popel & Giller Brewery that operated in Warsaw before Prohibition. There was a Burg Braw during PreProhibition and a failed Burgemeister near beer during Prohibition but the product did not sell well and the brand name was moth balled for another 12 years.

After Repeal in 1933, the owners of the former Popel & Giller tried to reopen their brewery. Unfortunately, the Great Depression was the cause of Popel & Giller failure to reopen of the brewery and new owners purchased the property and reopened the brewery as Warsaw Brewing Company in 1936. The Old Tavern brand was first brewed by Rock Island Brewing Company of Rock Island, IL, until that brewery closed in 1939. Warsaw acquired several brands (including Old Tavern) from Rock Island but continued only the Old Tavern label beyond 1943 due to World War rationing. Besides Old Tavern, Warsaw Brewing Company brewed:
Billikin Club 1939 only
Burgemeister 1936 - 1972
Illinois Select 1936 - 1940 (Best Brewing Co in Chicago acquired this label in 1940)
Old Rockford 1938 - 1942
Old St Louis 1938 - 1942
Varsity Club 1936 - 1938 (Jos Huber in Monroe, WI was already using this brand name and stopped Warsaw in 1938)
Warsaw Select 1936- 1940

After 1942, Warsaw Brewing Company brewed only the Burgemeister, Old Tavern and a few Holiday/Bock seasonal beers until 1972. Warsaw Brewing Company closed in 1972 due to high cost of replacing old equipment and lack of support of the community. The Old Tavern and Burgemeister labels were purchased by Meister Brau/Peter Hand Brewing Company of Chicago (while it was owned by Jos Huber in Monroe). Old Tavern was both brewed and discontinued in 1972 by Peter Hand. Burgemeister, on the other hand, was brewed and packaged by Peter Hand from 1972 until the brewery closed in 1978. While Jos. Huber owned the Burgemeister label through the Peter Hand division, Huber decided not to continue the brand and it faded into history. Both the Burgemeister and Old Tavern brands are currently considered as Public Domain brands and any micro brewery today could resurrect these brands if there would be an interest in Warsaw or Chicago, IL.

Hope this helps.
10/4/2009 12:31:01 AM

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jdbjicase
Originally posted by Skyview
According to the ABA Archives (soon to be transferred to the National Beer Museum Library in Potosi in 2010), the Burgemeister of the former Warsaw Brewing Company in Illinois and Burgermeister in California were two different beers and had no connection with each other. I could write a very long detailed history on the Burgermeister/Burgie beer of Burgermeister/San Francisco/Schlitz/Theo. Hamm/Pabst which disappeared in 1979, but I will give you information on the Warsaw labels only.

The Burgemeister brand was started in 1934 by the former owners of the Popel & Giller Brewery that operated in Warsaw before Prohibition. There was a Burg Braw during PreProhibition and a failed Burgemeister near beer during Prohibition but the product did not sell well and the brand name was moth balled for another 12 years.

After Repeal in 1933, the owners of the former Popel & Giller tried to reopen their brewery. Unfortunately, the Great Depression was the cause of Popel & Giller failure to reopen of the brewery and new owners purchased the property and reopened the brewery as Warsaw Brewing Company in 1936. The Old Tavern brand was first brewed by Rock Island Brewing Company of Rock Island, IL, until that brewery closed in 1939. Warsaw acquired several brands (including Old Tavern) from Rock Island but continued only the Old Tavern label beyond 1943 due to World War rationing. Besides Old Tavern, Warsaw Brewing Company brewed:
Billikin Club 1939 only
Burgemeister 1936 - 1972
Illinois Select 1936 - 1940 (Best Brewing Co in Chicago acquired this label in 1940)
Old Rockford 1938 - 1942
Old St Louis 1938 - 1942
Varsity Club 1936 - 1938 (Jos Huber in Monroe, WI was already using this brand name and stopped Warsaw in 1938)
Warsaw Select 1936- 1940

After 1942, Warsaw Brewing Company brewed only the Burgemeister, Old Tavern and a few Holiday/Bock seasonal beers until 1972. Warsaw Brewing Company closed in 1972 due to high cost of replacing old equipment and lack of support of the community. The Old Tavern and Burgemeister labels were purchased by Meister Brau/Peter Hand Brewing Company of Chicago (while it was owned by Jos Huber in Monroe). Old Tavern was both brewed and discontinued in 1972 by Peter Hand. Burgemeister, on the other hand, was brewed and packaged by Peter Hand from 1972 until the brewery closed in 1978. While Jos. Huber owned the Burgemeister label through the Peter Hand division, Huber decided not to continue the brand and it faded into history. Both the Burgemeister and Old Tavern brands are currently considered as Public Domain brands and any micro brewery today could resurrect these brands if there would be an interest in Warsaw or Chicago, IL.

Hope this helps.


This is more information than I’ve ever heard about the company. Thank you so much. This is probably a long shot, but is it possible to find the recipe for Burgermeister? I’d like to try to revive this brand, even if only for my own personal use.
10/4/2009 8:11:09 PM

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Skyview 5150:
Originally posted by jdbjicase
This is more information than Iíve ever heard about the company. Thank you so much. This is probably a long shot, but is it possible to find the recipe for Burgermeister? Iíd like to try to revive this brand, even if only for my own personal use.


Locating a historical beer recipe from a specific brewery is like searching for the Ark of the Covenant. Recipes were rarely etched in stone for these reasons:
a) Beer consumer’s taste in beer changed over the years, the breweries kept up with the recipe demand.

b) As each brewery changed brewmasters, the recipe and style changed.

c) Throughout the difficult 1950s and 60s the small regional breweries made beer on what ever they could get their hands on.

d) The water used (gypsum, ph level, etc) historically has to match the water used today.

These are the main reason why there is no exact recipe for historical beers. On the other hand, there are two methods of recreating a historical recipe:

1) Go through the county’s historical society and see if the brewery’s records were donated. If not, research for the name of the brewmaster of the brewery of the time period you want to recreate. Locate his descendants and see if they have his old records.

2) Burgemeister was a light pilsener during the 1950s through 1972. If you can match the beer character close to Bitburger but eliminate the metallic bitter finish, you will have something close to the historical Burgemeister. The Old Tavern was a premium lager. If you can match the beer profile of Samuel Adams Boston Lager but with a clear golden yellow color you will have a close match.
10/4/2009 9:08:05 PM

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jdbjicase
Thanks, I’ll do that. Any information on the CA version of Burgie? Where they comparable?
10/10/2009 6:04:52 AM

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