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Family members resurrect Griesedieck Brothers Beer

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Eskram

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Not a very flattering name for a beer. :D

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/ne...0185D7F854607A5086257058005096C2?OpenDocument


History bubbles beneath the brew from the center tap at Dewey's Pizza.

Dewey's partner Dave Justice caught a glimpse of the tradition recently when he watched a baseball documentary on HBO. On the right side of old Sportsman's Park, Grand Avenue and Dodier Street in north St. Louis, was a big, red Griesedieck Brothers Beer sign.

"I'm sitting there going, 'That's sweet,'" Justice said. "How great is that?"

After an absence of 40-plus years, Griesedieck Brothers Beer has returned as a microbrew. Cousins Alvin "Buddy" Griesedieck of Warson Woods, Ray Griesedieck of Des Peres and Steve Butler of Defiance, owners of the Griesedieck Brothers Brewing Corp., plan to establish their own brewery. In the meantime, their special recipe is produced under contract by the Morgan Street Brewery on Laclede's Landing. Nineteen restaurants and nightspots, including Dewey's, in Kirkwood, now carry the microbrew on tap.

Once one of the largest breweries in St. Louis, Griesedieck Brothers sponsored radio broadcasts of the St. Louis Cardinals and the old St. Louis Browns games in the years before Anheuser-Busch purchased the Cardinals. Harry Caray, host of the sports program, reminded listeners the initials GB meant "good beer."

Today's German-style pilsener is better, the Griesedieck cousins say. Unlike its working-class grandfather, this microbrew follows a 13th-century German purity law that allows the use of only four ingredients: malted barley, hops, yeast and water. The old GB was corn-based and sweeter, they said.

Ray Griesedieck developed the golden pilsener during a conference with brewmaster John Witte of Trailhead Brewery in St. Charles, the beer's first contract brewer. It is styled after those brewed in Bitburg and Munich, Germany.

"We're going after drinkers who like a better beer," Buddy Griesedieck noted. "We're trying to bring back a tradition. There's beer in our blood."

"Literally," added Butler as he raised a glass of Griesedieck Brothers in a toast.

"We don't bleed red, we bleed yellow," Ray Griesedieck concurred.

More than two centuries ago, Johann Henrich Griesedieck opened the family's first brewery in Westphalia, Germany. Within eight years after descendants Anton and Heinrich immigrated to St. Louis in 1869, they acquired two local breweries and founded the A. Griesedieck Brewery Co. In 1911 Heinrich purchased the Consumers Brewery and named it Griesedieck Brothers for his sons: Anton, Henry, Raymond, Robert and Edward.

After Prohibition ended, three branches of the family went head-to-head in the St. Louis beer market. The Griesedieck Brothers ran their brewery; Anton's son, "Papa" Joe Griesedieck, produced the Falstaff line; and another family member, Henry L. Griesedieck, brewed Stag beer in Belleville.

"Griesedieck Brothers was always known as the beer with the funny name," Butler recalled. By 1937, its brewery at Shenandoah and Lemp avenues was known as the most modern brewery in St. Louis, and its product was regarded as one of the hometown's most popular brews. By 1950 the company sold nearly a million barrels a year.

Edward Griesedieck, Butler's grandfather and company president until his death in 1955, accepted no substitutes. Before departing the family home in the Lake Forest neighborhood for a vacation to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he would instruct the chauffeur to pack the entire trunk — no suitcases allowed — with the family's signature product.

The cousins also recall visiting their Aunt Frances, the only sister of the five Griesedieck brothers. Frances never married and instead focused on her nieces, nephews and their progeny. Thanksgiving parties at her Hawthorne Avenue manse in Compton Heights featured four or five roasted turkeys and an overflowing guest list, they noted.

"At Christmas, the main dining room would be filled with gifts for everybody," Ray recalled. "It wasn't until Santa arrived we'd be allowed to go in and open them. At Easter the yard was filled with real eggs; when I got older, I helped dye the eggs."

Ray's father, Henry A., was the final president of the company before it was bought out by Falstaff in 1957. Falstaff closed in St. Louis in 1977, and in the mid-1980s an investor named Steve DeBellis purchased the GB trademark, but did not have the support of the family, the cousins said. Ray Griesedieck now owns the trademark.

As his sons were growing up, Ray focused his attention on their Scouting and school activities. He later turned his efforts to the incorporation of Griesedieck Brothers Brewing Corp. in 1992. By 2002, his two cousins were on board; that same year, patrons at Duff's Restaurant in the Central West End became the first to taste the new product.

"My dad died in 1984, and my passion has been to bring this back." Ray said. "I think he would like the product, but he would tell me I was crazy — a brewery is so capital-intensive."

Justice, who met with Buddy Griesedieck last year for a taste-test of the brew at Truffles in Ladue, said Dewey's patrons frequently recognize the Griesedieck name and ask for it.

"A lot of younger kids are wanting to drink what their grandfathers drank," Buddy agreed. "That nostalgia and history behind it, they find fascinating."
 

SwAMi75

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"A lot of younger kids are wanting to drink what their grandfathers drank," Buddy agreed. "That nostalgia and history behind it, they find fascinating."
Yeah right. They just get a kick out of ordering a Griesedieck.

On the right side of old Sportsman's Park, Grand Avenue and Dodier Street in north St. Louis, was a big, red Griesedieck
LOL :D
 

homebrewer_99

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Nice article. Two comments:

1. The German Reinheitsgebot (Purity Law) is dated 1516 (16th C, not 13th C).

2. The word "hefe" or "yeast" was not in there because they knew nothing about yeast then.

I'm curious about the beer though. I think I'll give it a try when I get in the SL neighborhood. :D
 
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