The M. Winter Brothers
Brewing Co. of Pittsburgh
Brothers Alois, Michael, and Wolfgang Winter came to America in late 1873, arriving at the Port of New York from Bavaria with their parents while still young men in their 20's. The family traveled west, and settled for a time in Chicago, Illinois, where they first appear there in official records in 1875. While in that city, Michael Winter took employment at the Conrad Seipp Brewing Company of Chicago, a large Mid-Western brewery. Upon later coming to Pittsburgh in 1883, the three brothers obtained possession of the old brewery of John H. Reichenbach, which was located at the corner of South 27th and Josephine Streets on the Southside of Pittsburgh, and in October of that year they commenced to the business of brewing fine ale and lager under the name of Michael Winter & Brothers.
The first year's brew was not quite 500 barrels of production for the entire year, but in less than four years this increased to about 9,000 barrels annually. The rapid gains in their business and the constantly increasing demand for their Bavarian style product necessitated a large increase in their manufacturing facilities, and they decided to erect an entirely new brewery, which was completed and ready for production in April of 1887. This facility was located on the Southwest corner of S. 21st Street and Josephine Street on the Pittsburgh Southside, in close proximity to their residences and just down the road from the location of their first facility.
The brewery was built from plans made by well known Chicago architect Mr. Wilhelm Griesser, who also supervised the construction of the entire plant. The Brew-House was located immediately upon the corner. Next to the Brew-House on the left was the storage department, conveniently arranged for handling and shipping of the various materials. The lower floor of the storage house was used as a wash house and racking-off room, and an arched passage way extended through this portion of the building from the street for the entrance of horse-drawn wagon teams. The Office, on the lower floor of the Brew-House, opened off of this passageway. Adjoining the storage house was the stock house, also four stories high, which contained the fermenting tubs, vats, and casks. To the rear of the Brew-House, and fronting Josephine Street, was the refrigerating machine house and boiler room. All cellar floors were laid with imported rock asphalt.
The business, at this point, became known as The M. Winter Brothers Brewing Company of Pittsburgh, whose trade slogan was "At Meal Times, At All Times...DRINK WINTER". Apparently, the beer drinking populace agreed, for by the end of 1891 their annual output had grown to over 40,000 barrels, and a 4 story addition to the plant was soon added in 1895. By the late 1890's they were nearing the capacity of their facility at 150,000 barrels a year.
------Excerpt from 1895 Pittsburgh Business Directory------
They became one of the largest beer producers in Pittsburgh during this period (the third largest in all of Allegheny County), and sold primarily through beer halls and taverns in large wooden barrels, many of which were supplied by Frank Denk General Cooperage, a local southside cooper (barrel maker) specializing in brewers work. Apparently they did not bottle the product, and so there are no beer bottles from this brewery that are known to exist. It is not clear why the business was named after the youngest brother, Michael Winter, or why he held the title of President, although it is speculated that it was because he was the Master Brewer by trade. Eldest brother Wolfgang Winter served in the capacity of Vice-President, and Alois Winter was the Treasurer. They continued to live in close proximity to one another, with their homes being located at 2225, 2226, and 2227 Jane Street on the Pittsburgh Southside.
In 1899, the brothers sold their lucrative enterprise for in excess of $4,500,000 to The Pittsburgh Brewing Company (PBC). There were some twenty or so other brewers who also sold to PBC during the brewing industry consolidation in Pittsburgh that year. The facility remained in PBC ownership and operation as "The Winter Brewery", up until about 1920 and the start of Prohibition. Alois Winter served as Plant Manager of the facility under the new entity, eventually sat on the Board of Directors of PBC, and had a successful second career in commercial banking on the Southside. Michael and Wolfgang Winter moved on to Orange, New Jersey in early 1901 and built a brand new brewery there known as The Orange Brewery, which they successfully operated in that location up until Prohibition, serving yet another thirsty segment of the populace.
This 4 story addition was added on to the South end
of the Winter Brewery in 1895
Wolfgang died in 1922 at age 79; Alois in 1926 at age 74; and Michael in 1929 at age 75. It is interesting to note that in 1889 the brothers purchased a large cemetery plot at the St. Peter's Cemetery (on Arlington Avenue in the Mt. Oliver section of the Pittsburgh Southside), which is a parish cemetery of The Prince of Peace Catholic Church. At the center of this burial plot stands a large, 100' tall missile-like stone, or obelisk. On one side of the base it reads "Winter Brothers", with the individual names of each of the 3 brothers engraved on the other 3 sides of the base, assuming that someday this would end up being their final resting place. Ironically, none of the 3 brothers ended up being buried there. The stone still stands, though their once thriving Bavarian brewery was torn down many years ago.
Have you any information about, or items pertaining to the M. Winter Brothers Brewing Company, which was built and owned by our Winter family ancestors?
(this website went online Feb, 2006)