Highland News Leader

A Thought to Remember: Highland Brewing Co. was twice called Schott Brewing Co.

“The first beer brewed in Highland was started by John Geismann (attorney John Geismann’s great-grandfather), a cooper by trade, in 1841. John’s home and brewery was at the northwest corner of Broadway and Walnut. (Today, Don Ole’ Mexican Restaurant is in the same location.)

“John built a 20 by 18 foot cellar behind his house and brewery to age the beer. (This cellar, or cave, was still in existence until the Ed Kuhl Standard station was built on that corner.)

“John continued to make beer until 1877, before selling the brewery and home.

“This small brewery, in the 1930s, was reopened by Edward ‘Eddie’ Zolk, the 10th child of Sebastian Zolk. (Sebastian Zolk’s family farmed just south of Highland on the Old Trenton Road. The farm is now owned by Joseph Hess.)

The Schott Brewery History written by Kevin Kious and Donald Roussin and published in the American Breweriana Journal was given to me in 2007 by Karlheinz Zolk of Langenbrucken, Germany. Karlheinz was a distant cousin of Edward Zolk, and he visited with relatives here in Highland, including Marjory Zimmermann Capelle, who had this complete Schott Brewing Co. history reprinted in the Highland News Leader.

“In 1843, John Guggenbuehler and Fridolin Weber started the second brewery in Highland, which they called the Jefferson Brewery. (Jefferson Brewery got its name from the street on which it was located, which today is our 8th Street.) It also was of small capacity and soon passed into the hands of Daniel Wild, who continued it by himself for several years.

“In 1854, Carl, also called Charles L. Bernays (one of the four Bernays brothers who came to Highland in 1848) effected a consolidation with Daniel Wild. They expanded and began manufacturing beer in a combined brick residence and brewing building at the north end of Mulberry Street…

“The ground floor and the two arched cellars, each 15 by 45 feet built underneath where the brewery and the second floor, was the Bernays residence. This building stood until the early 1930s.

“Gerhard Schott and his family arrived in Highland in 1855, and he became the Brewmaster at the Jefferson Brewery. Gerhard’s son had come to Highland in 1856, having been a brewmaster in France.”

(The above quotes are from the Highland Centennial book. I will now quote from an article in the American Breweriana Journal, written by Kevin Kious and Donald Roussin, who had completed much research on the Schott Brewery Co., which follows.)

“Jefferson Brewery, in 1860, was owned by Daniel Wild and Carl Bernays, Bernays selling his shares to Johann Nicholaus (Nicholas) Voegele and Daniel Wild for $4,000. Voegele became a partner, replacing Carl Bernays.

“Bernays was appointed to the U.S. Consul in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1860. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Bernays resigned his position in Switzerland, returned to the USA. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of colonel and remained in the field until the war ended.

“After the war, he took up his pen again for Dr. Henry Boernstein, formerly of Highland, who was living is St. Louis, where he was the editor of the German-language newspaper, Anzeiger. Bernays wrote just as pointedly as ever before, never laying his pen down until his death in 1879.” (This quote was from my column 917 of Dec. 6, 2012.)

Nicholas Voegele sold his shares to Gerhard Schott, the brewmaster in 1857.

“Daniel Wild sold his remaining shares of the Jefferson Brewery for $7,750 in January 1866 to Gerhard Schott and his son, Martin Schott. They changed the name to the Schott Brewing Co. and operated in this old building on Jefferson Street, now called 8th Street and Mulberry.

“In late 1866, Gerhard Schott left the Schott Brewing Co. to his two sons, Martin and Christian Schott, and he returned to Germany.

“In 1870, with the new brewery completed on 13th Street, Martin bought out his brother, Christian, and was sole proprietor.

“The business continued to grow, and by 1880, the Schott Brewery had a brewing capacity of 6,000 barrels per year.

“Later in the 1880s, the Schott family began building additional homes on 13th Street and the extensive lagering cellar, or caves, were built underneath the first three homes, with a side tunnel to each of the homes and three ventilator shafts installed. Martin and his sons could depart for work every day and return, without having to go outdoors.

“The 300-foot main cellar and the side tunnel extending south were all dug by hand and up to 40 feet deep. It took five years to complete the cellars and install the wooden aging casks. (These cellars were used for aging and lagering the beer until 1909, when a new modern refrigeration system was introduced.)

“In 1884, Martin Schott, preparing for his sons, Otto, Albert, Eugene and Martin Jr., to take over the business, incorporated the brewery as the Highland Berin Brewing Co. Over the next few years, the brewery continued to expand. Additions were made, and capacity increased to 15,000 barrels a year. By 1893, a three-story brew house, a five-story malt house, two-story bottling plant and an ice plant had been built, with brewing capacity now up to 25,000 barrels per year.

“Martin Schott Sr.’s son, Otto, died in 1895, and Martin retired in 1899. His second oldest son, Albert, became president; Eugene, secretary; and Martin Jr., treasurer. Capacity reached 75,000 barrels, and the bottling plant could fill 35,000 bottles.

“Hans Kalb had married Martin’s daughter, Katherina Schott. He had been a brewmaster in Germany, then in Ohio and St. Louis, but in 1915, became the brewmaster for his brothers-in-law.

“Meanwhile, the brewery kept going strong, employing around 70 men at the peak production, until being devastated by the enactment of Prohibition.

(Quotes from the Centennial History of Highland; Schott Brewing Co., Highland by Kevin Kious and Donald Roussin for the American Breweriana Journal; genealogy from Joan Voegele Leopold from the book published in 2000 by Edward Zacharski titled, Voegele Families of Southern Illinois; Roy Worstell; and my columns. I now have a copy of this book, courtesy of Joan Voegele Leopold. Thanks, Joan.)