American Weiss Beer in the Post-Repeal Era

[BELOW] A definition of "Weiss Beer" suggested to the Federal Alcohol Control Administration by a committee made up of brewing industry representatives in 1935. An earlier version, by the FACA, specified "top fermenting yeast" but the brewers, as was typical for the era, objected to a Federal regulation on what type of yeast they had to use for particular beer styles. (See Top and bottom fermenting yeast).

Another well-known source of post-Repeal US beer style descriptions also included "Weiss Beer". Nugey also kept the beer top fermented.

Even though there is no evidence of a US-brewed "Weiss Beer" for over a decade, The Master Brewers' Association of America included the style in their THE PRACTICAL BREWER handbook, published in 1946.

Despite the inclusion of the style in the early Post-Repeal regulations and industry reference sources, few brewers produced the style and the two notable ones (below) were apparently short-lived.

[ABOVE] Assumed to be an offer to distribute Fischbach's based on the Milwaukee address - although no connection between the brewery and Trimborn can be found.

Owner Walter M. Fishbach was likely the son of a pre-Pro Vice President of Milwaukee's Cream City Brewing Co.

Industry sources put the year of Fischbach Brewing Co.'s closure at 1936.

[BELOW] A rare mention of Wheat Malt in the US, by one of the fewBrewery/Maltsters, The Mathie-Ruder Brewing Co.

Hampden's WEISS BEER appears to have been a short-lived product, circa 1950. In one undated ad, the brewer noted:

The secret is a special technique in fermentation - different from ordinary lager beers - a process that requires the finest ingredients. Choice wheat. Select barley malt. Costly imported Saaz "Certified" Hops.

Before and after, the brewery was known for it's two flagship products, HAMPDEN MILD ALE and HAMPDEN BEER.

[ABOVE RIGHT] Michael Jackson, from his tribute to Fred Huber:

Huber of Wisconsin A personal tribute to the man who made Augsburger

1984, two US breweries founded in the pre-Prohibition period brewed the first wheat beers in the US in decades. As noted in the two "snips" below from their current websites, both erroneously claim to have been the first US-brewed wheat beers after Prohibition. (Anchor uses the vague terminology "modern times").

According to a Schell source both brewers coincidentally started their first brews on the same day.

"We brewed our Hefeweizen in 1984, and by an incredible coincidence, on the exact same day Anchor Brewing brewed theirs. With the two hour time difference, I believe that makes ours the first wheat beer brewed in American since Prohibition."

--- "unterhopft aka Jace Marti, August Schell Brewing Co.

Based on the 1986 date of Anchor's announcement of national distribution it is likely that Schell's Weiss Beer, at the time distributed through importer Merchant du Vin's national network probably pre-dated Anchor Wheat Beer in most markets.

Another US beer which used the term "Weiss" as part of its brand was brewed California's Maier Brewing Co., but did not seem to use any wheat in its recipe nor was it advertised as such. It likely was not an attempt to brew a Berliner Weisse beer style or wheat beer.

Owned by Paul Kalmanovitz of the S&P Corp., in 1971 he would buy the much larger General Brewing Corp./Lucky Lager and fold his many other brands into the General portfolio. (Kalmanovitz would go on to buy Falstaff and Pearl in the 1970s and finally Pabst in the 1980s.)

By comparison, in '63, "popular-priced" brands like LUCKY LAGER or BUSCH BAVARIAN sold for $1.15-1.20 while "premium-priced" BUDWEISER sold at around $1.30.

As noted on the can label, WEISS BAVARIAN was also labeled a "pilsner beer". The brand seems to have disappeared by the mid-1970s.

As for Anheuser-Busch's BUSCH BAVARIAN, one would assume that the Maier beer's label was "inspired" by Busch's.

WEISS BAVARIAN aka BAVARIAN WEISS was a product of the Maier Brewing Co. of Los Angeles, best known for it's BREW 102 brand.