Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chicago Beer HIstory; Peter Hand Brewery Co.

Went for a walk around the North Side (Chicago) today, and happened to come across a vintage/junk shop on Lincoln (near Addison--can't recall the store name though) that astonishingly I'd never noticed before. Wandered inside and came across a basket of vintage bottle openers for $0.75 each, mostly from Budweiser, Miller, and Schlitz, but with three from Hamm's (snapped up by Ethan--Minnesota pride), and one from Peter Hand Brewery Co. (reserved by me), which we didn't recollect.

A quick Google search later this evening revealed it to be a significant part of Chicago beer history. Founded by a Prussian immigrant (Peter Hand) in 1891 on North Ave, its popular Meister Brau brand grew the company into one of top 30 US breweries by the late sixties, before selling its brands to Miller in 1972 and closing in 1978. Of particular note--Peter Hand was the last Chicago brewery running (from what used to be dozens), and its closure marked the end of brewing in Chicago for a number of years.

Peter Hand Co. Meister Brau

For more on this and many other interesting Chicago facts, check out the Encyclopedia of Chicago, an excellent resource for history buffs:

http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/2692.html

With the Peter Hand opener as a reminder of the end of one age of brewing, I'm happy to be around for the beginning of a new age of Chicago brewing, with breweries such as Half Acre and Metropolitan, as well as established (Piece) and new (Revolution Brewing) brewpubs.

Cheers to the new age!

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