The Christian Feigenspan Brewing Company

1875 - 1943

 (Above) Unknown brewery.  Possibly the Kolb-built facility on Freeman St. (destroyed in 1884 fire?) or the Laible - Charlton St. site, clearly not the same building with the clock tower so prominently featured in the ads and photos below.

 

In 1875 the Christian Feigenspan Brewing Company was founded at 49 Charlton St., at the former Laible brewery where he had previously been a superintendent.  He would also marry Rachel Laible.

In 1878, he reportedly built a brewery on Belmont Street, and as late as 1886 a facility at 54 Belmont would be listed as the "Feigenspan Bottling Establishment".

In  1880, Christian Feiganspan took over the Charles Kolb lager beer brewery (founded 1866) on  Freeman Street.  (Altho', an 1873 map of Newark shows the property owned by a "Lenz Geyer Company".  There was a "Geyer" who was another Newark brewer who owned an "Enterprise Brewery" on Orange St.)

 

 An 1884 fire would, reportedly, burn the brewery to the ground for a loss of  $300,000.

 

 By 1909, the firm would be advertising that "...Feigenspan Breweries are the largest producers of Ale in the United States!" (click on barrel above for text of ad) in an apparent dig at their much larger next door neighbor, P. Ballantine & Sons.  Ballantine's Lager Beer sales having by then accounted for 3/4 of their total production.

 

Possibly because of WWI era restrictions on the allowable alcohol level of beer (set at a mere 2.75%), Feigenspan entered into Prohibition with 4,000 barrels of aging ale in its cellar.  In 1927, the ale would make the news as they tried to sell it.  One story in July had it going to Heinz in Pittsburgh to be made into malt vinegar, but follow up articles say that in early November the ale was simply dumped into the sewer "...and thence into the Passaic River".  

 

Sadly, it would not be the first beer dumped by Feigenspan, which had one of the first four licenses to brew "medicinal beer" at the start of Prohibition. "Medicinal beer" was soon outlawed by the "Anti-Beer" law, and the brewery had to dump 600 cases of "real beer" (4.5%alcohol) in March of 1922.

 Bottle of Feigenspan's India Pale Ale.
 
In 1899, Feigenspan would lose a trademark lawsuit by Bass Ratcliff & Gretton which brewed the famous Bass Ale labeled with a red triangle (and said to be the first trademark),  over this label with a "similar color and outline as to be mistaken for each other".
 


(above) 1907 advertisement - New York Sun
 featuring the prominent clock tower of the brewery, an image repeated below (late 1930's P.O.N. ad) and below left (pre-Prohibition 1910's)



 

 

 (below) 1893 illustration of the Feigenspan brewhouse


 
































 




 (Above) The Feigenspan brewery's clock tower figures prominently in this 1930's ad - one in a series of beautifully illustrated ads which can be view on this P.O.N. page.  (Left) a view of the tower from Freeman Street in the '30's.