To historically review the dawn or subsequent development of man's appreciation for ale and beer, would be no sinecure achievement, suffice it to say that since the arrival of the earliest pioneers in this section, brewing, in some shape, has ever held its own. But the nutritious and palatable blending of malt and hops found little difficulty in fascinating the popular taste, even our grand-fathers were free to extol the merits of "John Barleycorn." We cannot, with any degree of certainty, venture an opinion as to who brewed the first ale in this section, but believe we are not far out of the way in saying that Mr. P. P. Beck, founder of Reymann's brewery, was the first beer brewer here, and Mr. Louis Keller, (still living,) was the pioneer saloonist who dispensed it at retail, in a humble premises, located at the southern end of the creek bridge. Upon the introduction, hereabouts, of the famous lager, the Germans took no small degree of pleasure in renewing their old acquaintance with it, but it took the American born some little time to school the appetite, which however, we may be pardoned for suggesting, is to-day tutored to a degree of average perfection. The faculty and invalids, alike, now proclaim, in many instances, that ale stands unrivalled as a tonic, while he who sips more as a matter of enjoyment, considers beer to be amply "headifying" for him. We therefore draw the inference that a brief sketch of our local brewing interests will be acceptable and duly appreciated all round.
Some eighteen years ago, one Frank Ziegler first inaugurated the brewery in question, which he ran probably a dozen years, when a stock company was organized and took the property out of his hands, the first directors being Messrs. S. Butterfield, C. Siebke, C. P. Brown, the late R. S. Brown, N. Reister, F. Walters, G. Warner, H. Michael, and P. Bonenberger. Though to the stranger, on approaching the Nail City Brewery, it does not afford a very presentable external appearance, yet on entering he quickly becomes surprised at its extent and excellent facilities. The master brewer, Ernst Irion, was formerly at the Gambrinus Stock Company's Brewery, Cincinnati, for many years, and is one of the most competent brewers outside of Germany. His facilities in the way of mash tubs, boiler and a champion cooler are unexcelled -- the latter being one of the finest in America, eighteen by nineteen feet, -- purchased at the Centennial at a cost of $1,000 --- and over two inch pipes it is possible to cool sixty barrels per hour. The supply of pure crystal water gushing from the rock, has no limit, while there is at present some four hundred feet of the finest cellarage that ever was associated with any brewery, running into the solid rock and being thoroughly ventilated. And more, the company are just engaged in constructing an additional fermenting cellar sixty by thirty feet, with a fine ice house over it running thirty-five feet high. As an evidence of this brewery's present prosperity, they sold from seven thousand to eight thousand barrels last year, shipping considerably by both rail and water, though enjoying a very extensive proportion of the city's entire supply -- engaging no fewer than four delivery teams. Adjacent to the brewery -- on the corner of Thirty-third and Wetzel streets -- stands their private office, where the directors meet periodically. The whole of their malt is supplied from
located on the corner of Twenty-third and Water streets, 66x122 feet, three stories, with a capacity of 55,000 bushels annually, Mr. Butterfield is a practical maltster, with a life's experience, secures most of his barley from Washington county, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, while dealing in only the choicest western New York hops. Hence the ingredients in the Nail City beer cannot be excelled for quality and purity. The present officers of the company are P. Welty, president; J. Butterfield, vice-president; secretary, C. Bingell, who is also travelling agent, and Mr. G. Hesse, officiates as clerk.
Mr. Chris. Siebke, who has ever been one of the most active members of the directory since the formation of the present stock company, was the first in West Virginia to embark in the bottling business. Knowing the merits of Nail City beer, he, in 1875 adopted it under his own name, as "Siebke's Popular Beer," establishing at his own expense, bottling works at 1331 Market street, attaching thereto a private office, fronting on Fourteenth street. Here he provided the most modern appliances for the run of the business, and only a very few months proved to him most conclusively, that the Nail City beer was destined to an immense popularity. From month to month, saloons and private families alike, grew more and more enquiring after it, and in proof of its growing popularity, Mr. Seibke had shipped so many as 3,000 dozen bottles in one month, and is to this day bottling from twenty to thirty half barrels daily, while his famous bottled goods are shipped throughout this State, Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania -- even to New York, Boston and Washington, being represented in Philadelphia during the exposition.
This popular and successful enterprise is the only exclusive ale brewery in the state, and at once an important acquisition to Wheeling's commercial prosperity. The brewery and malt house form a very fine block, near the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad depot, and was built in 1863 by John Reid & Co., who carried on business in it to 1868, when Kinghorn & Co. succeeded thereto. Mr. Killian Kress being included in the co-partnership, availed himself of an opportunity in 1877, and succeeded to the entire business, which he still runs single handed. The qualities here produced are Burton pale ale, pale, bitter, XXX, and porter, though at present the use of ale is limited, yet they do a capital trade. The malt house has a capacity of 30,000 bushels. The brewery can produce seventy-five barrels per day, while the united cellars at command will accommodate seven thousand barrels. Not only in this state has a growing demand sprung up for the famous Eagle brews, but they are shipped extensively through Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and the more they find their way into domestic circles, for family consumption, the more increasingly popular do they become.
It is some forty years ago, now, that the name of Smith was first associated with the brewing interests in Wheeling, and be it said that in like relation it has ever carried with it a high reputation for a genuine article. The original brewery so long and so successfully run by Mr. Smith was located on Chapline street, corner of Seventeenth, but the premises have for three years been vacated, Mr. Smith having removed to the north end of Market street, where he is a present conducting the ale brewing in the old Brockhardt property. Mr. Smith's famous ale is too popular to require our recommend, and though he is not engaged as extensively as of yore, yet his business is of a most successful and satisfactory character.
Service provided by the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in partnership with and partially funded by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation