Drinking To Our ForefathersOctober 26, 2010
I attended the 1st annual Beer Barons to Homebrewers cemetery tour and homebrew competition last weekend. I had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. There were probably 60 attendees who gathered on the grounds of the historic West Laurel Hill Cemetery on an absolutely gorgeous fall day. We gathered around the mausoleums of the great Philadelphia brewing clans as Rich Wagner filled us in on the history of each brewer as we sipped pre-prohibition style home-brewed beer.
We walked from grave to grave, then assembled on the veranda for a German-style buffet and more beer. A few of the big names in the philly beer scene (including Joe Sixpack) judged the entries as we ate and mingled, then we were given a nice pint glass and sent on our way. It was quite a success that will surely become a yearly tradition.
The John F. Betz mausoleum, the largest in Laurel Hill. The thing is larger than my house. Seriously. Betz owned breweries in both Manhattan and Philadelphia. He owned a beer garden on the Schuylkill River and put in a line of little steamboats to carry his patrons up the river from Fairmount Dam. Betz also brewed an IPA at the turn of the century, making him the true craft beer revolutionist.
Above is Frederick Poth‘s mausoleum. Poth only owned the second-largest brewery in Brewerytown at STILL managed to produce almost 200,000 barrels of beer a year. He dabbled in real estate as did Betz and was the developer who built the lovely mansions along Parkside Avenue once overlooking the Centennial Exposition grounds in West Philly.
I didn’t get a picture of Gottfried Binder‘s grave, but above is the house he died in, located at 23rd & Poplar Street. I snapped the picture on my way home since I live on Poplar Street and his house is a mere 2 blocks away from me!
The Louis Bergdoll burial site. His beautiful brewery complex at 29th & Parrish Sts. was saved from the wrecking ball by condos.
The homebrew judges.
The John Hohenadel mausoleum.
Not a brewer, but maybe an ancestor of mine? It’s doubtful since previous generations were all farmers.
This is the Grandson of Charles Bergner. Not a very large headstone for one of the largest and most well-known brewers in the country.