Brewers of Yesteryear

Madison, Ind.’s beer brewing
history comes full circle

Mad Paddle Brewery follows in footsteps
of earlier breweries

2018 Cover

(November 2018) – In 1810, Madison, Ind., founders Jonathan Lyons, John Paul and Lewis Davis bragged about their purchase of 691 acres along the Ohio River, calling it “the healthiest and best-situated location between the two Ohio River ports of Cincinnati and Louisville,” according to historical records.
The founders’ energy promoted Madison’s ideal location for goods to be shipped down the Ohio River. Steamboats revolutionized travel on the river and brought even more goods and profits to Madison due to the reduced shipping time. Agricultural products were transported quicker and cheaper from Madison to market. Madison also became a trading center for manufactured products from eastern cities, making Madison a supply hub.
Richard C Wade, author of “The Urban Frontier: The Rise of Western Cities 1790-1830,” observed that “the robust trading atmosphere and commercial culture that surrounded river ports fostered community success. That was true of Madison, where the population grew quickly to more than 900 people by 1820, with growth continuing to more than 8,000 people by the 1850 census.
The commercial growth created opportunities for breweries. Producing and selling beer were popular and profitable trades. Both production and consumption were essentially local because bottling was expensive and beer did not travel well. Most beer was stored in, and served from, wooden kegs. Many households would even brew their own beer. 

Photo provided

The former Lamson Feed Store at 301 West St. in Madison, Ind., is the site of the future Mad Paddle Brewery Co. Renovations are under way for opening by the end of the year.

Madison’s brewing history is focused on five early breweries. The development, progress and demise of those breweries parallels the history of small breweries in the United States, and the importance of the breweries to the growth of their local community. Early breweries in the United States produced a British-style ale, based on top fermentation and on available strains of yeast. 
Jacob Salmon was the first entrepreneur to start a brewery in Madison. He was a pioneer flat boatman by trade who came west from Virginia. In 1823, he built a rough, low, one-story stone structure where he began brewing a crude kind of beer called common beer. His establishment was known as the “Old Salmon Brewery,” possibly the first brewery to be built west of the Alleghenies. Part of the stone structure served as his family residence.
By 1828, successful breweries were established all along the East Coast of the United States. Cincinnati had a thriving brewery industry. Indianapolis, on the other hand, did not get a brewery until 1834, when the last section of the National Road in Indiana was completed and a branch of the State Bank of Indiana opened in Indianapolis. Commercial brewing in a frontier town was just not viable until there was more access, more business and more people.
By the 1840s, American brewers began brewing lager beer that required a longer maturation period than ales.  Lager uses a bottom fermenting yeast and is more temperature sensitive. However, the increasing numbers of German immigrants drove the demand for lager and transformed the market for beer. Madison’s Salmon Brewery closed in 1841, possibly following a death in Salmon’s family. The building was abandoned.
A second Madison brewery was now located closer to town, on Main Street near the hill. This Sheik Brewery was briefly successful from 1941 to 1945. When the Sheik Brewery closed, the facility became a canning factory.  

Photos provided

These Madison, Ind., brewing company labels were used to promote the various former breweries.

Cincinnati brewer Mathew (Mathias) Greiner moved to Madison in 1852. He built a large brewery operation on the east side of town, possibly near the original Salmon brewery. A portion of the building still stands, located on what is now Park Street. The sign, “Greiner’s Brewery, Cash for Barley” from 1870 is still visible on the brick building. The large complex originally included a fermentation room, cold storage beer cellar and bottling works.
After 1885, the business became known as the Madison Brewery. A one-story brick cottage on the east side of the building was used as worker housing. The spring water was said to have contributed to the outstanding quality of the beer. Madison ale was known to have the finest flavor of any ale produced. The quality resulted in a widespread demand for the product.

Demand for beer grows

After the Civil war, widespread immigration from strong beer drinking countries such as Britain, Ireland and Germany contributed to the creation of a beer culture in the United States. Furthermore, America was becoming industrialized and urbanized. Many workers in the manufacturing and mining sectors drank beer during and after work. These workers with wages could afford to buy beer. The Temperance Movement also influenced beer sales because of the lower alcohol content compared to high alcohol spirits such as whiskey.  
Breweries continued to increase production and scope of their distribution, becoming shipping breweries. The market for beer was balanced between large, regional shipping breweries that incorporated the latest innovations in pasteurizing, bottling and transporting beer vs. the locally oriented breweries that mainly supplied draught beer in wooden kegs to their immediate markets.

Photo courtesy of the
Jefferson County (Ind.) Research Archive

The former Madison Brewing Co. is pictured in downtown Madison, Ind. Many breweries closed in the wake of Prohibition.

During this time, the production and consumption of beer outpaced spirits. Artificial refrigeration enabled brewers to brew during warm summer months, and pasteurization helped extend the shelf life of packaged beer, making storage and transportation possible. Also, American brewers began brewing lager beer, a popular German style beer, rather than only British-style ale.  
It was during this time that the fourth Madison brewery was opened in 1864 by Peter Weber. He was an immigrant who had learned the brewing business in France. Weber had been involved in brewing briefly in Madison in 1850, then left for Cincinnati. When he returned in 1864, he purchased a grain and malt house on the corner of Main Cross and Vine streets to found the Union Brewery.
The Union Brewery was immediately successful there. After eight years, he tore down the old building to construct a new, larger, impressive building in 1876. The main building was 50 feet deep to 148 feet deep. Like Greiner, Weber boasted of a special spring of water accessible in his basement. He claimed that spring imparted the same wonderful quality as the spring used in the Greiner-brewed beer.
The new brewery produced more than 5,000 barrels annually at its peak. Thus, the rivalry between the Greiner and Weber breweries began. If bar owners promised to use only one beer in their establishment, they received a good discount in the price. Patrons of the bars with a brand preference could only patronize certain bars because most did not carry both brands. 
The Greiner Brewery reportedly sold 2,523 barrels of beer in 1879. In 1881, Greiner’s Madison Brewery became Madison Brewing Co. Inc. The new venture was formed with capital stock of $100,000. Officers included John B. Ross, president, Charles A. Korbly, secretary; Thomas A Payne, treasurer; A.C. Greiner, superintendent; James Hill, director. (A.C. Greiner was the son of Mathew Greiner.) The new brewery produced the brand name Madison XXX Ale, which was reportedly distributed as far away as New Orleans. They also made Lager, Pilsener, Bohemian, Extra Brew, Export, Ton Ton, Extra Brand and XXX Porters. By 1910, they had contacted to distribute their beer in Indianapolis as well. At that time, Madison Brewing Co. had a peak production of 14,000 barrels, and employed 20 people. 
While both the city of Madison and the local breweries were flourishing prior to Prohibition, John Nyberg, Executive Director of the Jefferson County (Ind.) Historical Society observed, “Madison never became a brewery town. Madison was noted as a retail center, bustling with the activity of slaughterhouses, mills, wrought iron work and steamboats.”

Photo by Sharyn Whitman

Mad Paddle Brewery owner-developer Jerry Wade poses where future beer taps will be located on the walls.

Although beer distribution was growing, most beers were still sold in the communities where it was produced.  Adolphus Busch, in St. Louis, was determined to create a brew that had broad appeal. In 1876, he and a friend, Carl Conrad, created an American-style lager beer that exceeded all expectations. Busch called it “Budweiser,” a name he thought would appeal to German immigrants like himself, yet could be easily pronounced by Americans.
For German immigrants, lager was their beer. Busch was the first brewer to use pasteurization in the 1870s.  The process allowed beer to be shipped longer distances without spoiling. Busch followed that success with artificial refrigeration, refrigerated railcars and rail-side ice houses. His company was positioned to grow nationwide.
Budweiser became the first national beer brand. Busch was an organized sales promoter. He aggressively used giveaways and premiums. His brewery was designed to be a showplace to visit. Pabst Brewing in Milwaukee was the other major national brewing company at that time. Those two breweries were the first to produce more than 1 million barrels. 
But temperance and Prohibition supporters became the best organized political pressure groups during that time.    Their efforts culminated on Jan 29, 1919, in the ratification of the 18th amendment. The Volstead Act made the production and distribution of any beverages with more than one-half of 1 percent alcohol illegal. 

Effects of Prohibition

Prohibition sent the Madison Brewing Co. into bankruptcy on Feb. 2, 1919. It was the end of many other small breweries as well. World War I had also challenged the brewing industry, since wartime emergencies resulted in grain rationing and lowering the alcohol level in beer to 2.75 percent.
Prohibition was also a formidable challenge to the large shipping breweries. However, the large breweries managed to survive by diversification. The breweries that survived gained market share because their former rivals had closed and were unable to re-open. Prohibition lasted for 13 years, from 1920 to 1933.
During that time, Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst and Budweiser created “near beer,” which was essentially beer with the alcohol removed. They also produced malt syrup, promoted as an ingredient for cookies. Home brewers quickly learned to use the malt syrup in their personal beer recipes. Special licenses were also granted to some breweries for the production of “medicinal purposes.” These activities made it possible for the breweries to maintain a level of production and staffing, rather than completely close the brewery during Prohibition.

Photo by Sharyn Whitman

Shiny, new beer brewing kettles line a wall inside the Mad Paddle Brewery building in downtown Madison, Ind. Owner Jerry Wade says he hopes to begin brewing beer  there by the end of the year at 301 West St.

Bottling investments and innovations during this time resulted in the production of near beer, root beer, ginger ale and soft drinks. These products did not replace the commercial success of beer, but they did give the breweries more experience in canning and bottling.  
In 1925, Blatz made canned malt syrup and helped create the first contacts between the leading shipping brewers and the American Can Co. After Prohibition, breweries divested their saloons and bars. Originally, breweries owned or controlled many saloons as the dominant retail outlets for alcohol. Post repeal legislation forbade alcohol manufactures from owning bars or saloons. The requirement to sell the bars created new opportunities to sell beer to wholesalers for distribution of beverages to bars and retailers. 
Furthermore, before Prohibition most beer was sold on tap in bars or saloons. Only 10 to 15 percent of beer was sold in bottles. Bottled beer was much more expensive than draught beer. However, in 1935 the American Can Co. successfully canned beer for the first time. The spread of home refrigeration increased consumer demand for canned and bottled beer. The draught beer volume decreased. The rise of packaged beer was another factor that contributed to the growing consolidation of the brewing industry. 
In 1937, The Madison Brewing Co. attempted to restart production in its local brewery. That attempt was unsuccessful, whether due to the impact of prohibition or the Great Depression is unknown. Over the years, the building has housed a grocery, farm store, machine shop and a warehouse. Mayflower Moving and Storage occupied the building in the 1970s. The grand Italianate-style Union Brewery structure built by Peter Weber stood proudly until 1939, when it was destroyed by fire. The remaining Greiner brewery building is part of the Madison historic district and is designated a national historic landmark.
The Great Depression had affected the overall growth of the brewing industry as well. Nationally, by 1938, sales of canned beer pushed the national brand of Anheuser-Busch to the 2 million barrel mark. National and regional shipping of beer increased and dominated the market. Anheuser-Busch, Pabst and Schlitz, maximized mass production and mass distribution. 
Brewery cities like Cincinnati lost its claim as the largest brewing giants. Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis and Miller in Milwaukee out-spent, out-produced and out-marketed local breweries. The national breweries overcame local brand loyalty and built their national brands of mass-produced products. During World War II, beer production rose from 1941 to 1945. Both troops and civilians now had wages to spend for beer. Per capita consumption grew by 50 percent from 1940 to 1945.
After the war, beer production continued to grow, but at a slower rate. The total number of breweries dropped significantly after World War II with the continued growth of large national breweries. The scale of those operations grew significantly.
Following World War II, both the United States and the large, national brewery of Anheuser-Busch experienced unprecedented  growth and prosperity. By 1957, Anheuser-Busch became the leading U.S. brewer, a position it retains today. Beer drinkers in a world of national and global marketing may have their preferences for styles, bottles, cans or beer on tap, but it is mainly a mass market.

Growth in home brewing

Em Sauter, a certified beer judge and the 2017 author of “Beer is for Everyone! (Of Drinking Age),” describes the beer giants as macro breweries. “A macro brand can afford the advertising, the eye level space in retail stores and the promo gear,” she said.  “And for a long while, that strategy really worked for them and frankly still does, although not as well.  But now with craft beer and the local movement, people are looking into their backyards and are discovering great beer made down the street as well as a stellar place to hang out on a Saturday afternoon.” 
In Madison, the craft beer local movement started with Nick Privette and partners Daryl Hardesty and Chris Bratten. The home-brewing specialists incorporated New Madison Brewing in 2016 on the Madison hilltop, focusing on their own recipes for ales. Their brews are available for purchase in several local restaurants.

Photo by Sharyn Whitman

The outdoor patio is taking shape at Mad Paddle Brewery.

The “stellar place to hang out” will soon be the Mad Paddle Brewing Co., which is slated to open by the end of the year. Mad Paddle Brewing owner Jerry Wade is an entrepreneur with a vision for his downtown microbrewery. It really started as a simple idea to buy and restore a small brick building in a small town and bring it back to life. He researched opportunities in Indiana, which led to the purchase and renovation of a Victorian home from the 1850s in Indianapolis, creating the luxury vacation rental, Villa on Meridian.
The actual decision to locate a project in Madison was serendipitous. A cancelled vacation to the Indonesian Island of Bali provided a last-minute opportunity for a second look at Madison real estate. Connecting with community leaders convinced him that the timing was right. Young professionals and active retirees have already created a growing demand for downtown housing and apartments. Madison visitors need a place to relax in the evening.  
Wade envisions the environment as the experience for the ambiance of the Mad Paddle. The setting is an old feed mill, brick and old mortar visible on the walls, massive beams overhead. 
“This is it,” Wade said. “This is the vibe.” Antique equipment and fittings from the building will be featured in the décor. Old barrels, now part of the décor, will eventually hold barrel-aged brew. Bur-nished metal floor panels once used to protect the hardwood floors from heavy equipment will get new life as the front panels of the bar in the taproom.
Although starting with a small one-barrel system, eventually the whole process will be a seven-barrel system, visible through glass panels. Watching the process will provide a mini-education into the brewing process as well as entertainment. There will be no employees, waiters or bar tenders, only “beer ambassadors.” Wade described the role as a “mini army of people with day jobs who love craft beer.”
Valecia Crisafulli, chair of the Madison Main Street Business Development Committee, observed, “Jerry Wade has the energy and commitment to make this project successful.”
Excitement and suspense have been building throughout the summer through Mad Paddle beer sales events at summer festivals. Wade has already amassed 3,200 Facebook followers. Updates are regularly available on Facebook.
Although Mad Paddle windows are covered in brown paper, a sign featuring a large QR code on the door beckons, “Hold your phone camera over this image for a surprise!” Wade’s goal for the Mad Paddle Brewing Co. is to create an experience “so unique that people will want to come. The sign in the window says it all: ‘Mad Paddle Brewery - Coming Soon.’ ”

The new microbreweries have brought brewing back to Madison.

Back to November 2018 Articles.



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