Christian Schmidt Brewing Company

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Christian Schmidt Brewing Company
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founded 1860
Founder Christian Schmidt
Defunct 1987
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Products Beer

The Christian Schmidt Brewing Company was an American brewing company located in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1]

The company was founded in 1860 when 27 year old brewmaster Christian Schmidt acquired Courtenay's Brewery in Philadelphia.[2] Schmidt's continued to grow and expand throughout its 127 years in operation.

Like all American breweries, C. Schmidt & Sons was forced to cease production of alcohol with the passing of the 18th amendment in 1920. During the prohibition era from 1920-1933, many breweries turned to other production methods to stay in business. Schmidt's used its facilities to produce non-alcoholic cereal beverages during the thirteen year hiatus from brewing beer.[2] Following the repeal of the 18th ammendent in 1933, Schmidt's began producing beer again, and embarked upon plans to both expand and modernize its brewery.[2]

The company ceased production and sold its brands to G. Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin, in April 1987. The Philadelphia factory, located between Second and Hancock Streets and south of Girard Avenue, was razed in 2002 after being sold at sheriff’s auction on January 19, 2000 for $1.8 million to developer Bart Blatstein.[1] Today, it is the site of the 28-acre Piazza at Schmidt's, a retail, restaurant, and apartment complex.


Early History[edit]

Christian Schmidt was born in Machstadt, Wurtemberg, Germany in 1832 and immigrated to the United States, arriving in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1851.[3] He became associated with the brewery of Robert Courtenay and became a partner in 1860. The brewery was renamed Christian Schmidt, Kensington Brewery when Schmidt became sole proprietor in 1863.[4][5]

By 1892 Christian Schmidt's three sons, Henry C., Edward A. and Frederick W., joined the business and the brewery was incorporated as C. Schmidt & Sons. Upon Christian's death in 1895, Edward A. Schmidt became head of the company until his own death in 1944. Frederick W. Schmidt, served as president until 1945 when he became chairman of the board, a position he held until his death in 1949.[3][5]

Beginning in 1945 Christian H. Zoller, a grandson, served as president until May 1958, when Carl E. von Czoernig, the youthful 40 year old great-grandson of Christian Schmidt, took over the business. Carl E. von Czoernig served as head of the company until he was removed on April 16, 1975 and rumors began to circulate of a sale.

William H. Pflaumer Era[edit]

Schmidt family ownership ceased in 1976 with the sale of the brewery to William H. Pflaumer for $15.9 million.[6]

Under Pflaumer's tenure, Schmidt's produced more than 3.15 million barrels of beer per year by 1983, making it the ninth-largest brewery in the United States.[7] But after more than a decade of criminal investigations into his practices and allegations of ties to organized crime, Mr. Pflaumer was convicted in 1983 of a false billing scheme in which he had evaded paying $125,000 in excise taxes in three states.[6]

After his appeals failed, Pflaumer began serving his three-year sentence in 1986.[6] Production of the Schmidt's brands slumped to about $1.6 million barrels in 1986, less than one percent of the total U. S. Market.[8] The G. Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin purchased Schmidt's brands in 1987 and the brewery closed.[1][6][8]

The closing of the brewery in 1987 marked the first time in 300 years, excluding prohibition, that beer was not being produced in the city of Philadelphia.

Brewery Demolition[edit]

After the brewery closed the property stood vacant for 13 years. In 2000 real estate developer Bart Blatstein purchased the complex at sheriff's auction for $1.8 million dollars. The property, including all 26 of its buildings, were demolished shortly after the purchase. Plans for redeveloping the site were proposed, protested, and stalled numerous times. In May 2009 the Piazza at Schmidt's, a 150 million dollar retail, restaurant, and apartment complex opened on the former brewery grounds.[9]


  • Schmidt's
  • Schmidt's Lite
  • Prior
  • Erie
  • Coqui
  • Knickerbocker
  • Classic
  • Reading
  • Rheingold
  • Ortlieb's
  • Kohler
  • Valley Forge
  • Duquesne
  • McSorley's Ale

Advertising slogans[edit]

  • One Beautiful Beer
  • For The 1 Man In 4
  • Give Your Thirst A Taste Of Life
  • Beer As Beer Should Be
  • To Taste It Is To Love It
  • Tell The World You Know What You Are Doing
  • Give Your Thirst A Taste Of Life
  • For That Friendlier Feeling!
  • Where I live, It's Schmidt's

Company Name History [edit | edit source][edit]

  • Christian Schmidt, Kensington Brewery 1861–1892
  • C. Schmidt & Sons 1892–1902
  • C. Schmidt & Sons Brewing Co. 1902–1933
  • C. Schmidt & Sons, Inc. 1933–1981
  • Christian Schmidt Brewing Co. 1981–1986

Acquired Brands [edit | edit source][edit]

  • Reading Brewery 1966–1986
  • Rheingold Brewery 1977–1986
  • Bergheim Brewery 1976–1986
  • Pilsener Brewing Co. 1973–1986
  • Ruppert Brewery 1977–1986
  • Adam Scheidt Brewing Co. 1960–1986
  • Valley Forge Brewing Co. 1954–1986
  • Prior Brewery 1960–1986
  • Duquesne Brewing Co. 1960–1986
  • Erie Brewery 1960–1986
  • Kaier Brewery 1960–1986
  • Ortlieb Brewing Co. 1981–1986


  1. ^ a b c Walter, Naedel (May 26, 2010). "William H. Pflaumer, 76; owned Schmidt's brewery". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Schmidt's of Philadelphia Brewery History". Retrieved 2017-05-09. 
  3. ^ a b Moyer, David G. American Breweries of the Past AuthorHouse, 2009. ISBN 1-4389-7257-1
  4. ^ "Christian Schmidt and Sons, Inc., 1860". Roy E. Goodman and David G. Orr, Ph.D., Workshop of the World (Oliver Evans Press, 1990). Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "1860-1960 Schmidt's Will Celebrate Its Century Of Growth Throughout The Year". Modern Brewery Age. 1960. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d Robbins, Liz (May 29, 2010). "William Pflaumer, Philadelphia Beer Baron, Dies at 76". The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  7. ^ Bivens, Terry (June 16, 1986). "Why Christian Schmidt Has Gone Flat". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Lowe, Frederick (April 9, 1987). "Phila. Is Losing Its Last Brewery Schmidt's Brands Sold, Plant To Close". The Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  9. ^ Mandell, Melissa. "Schmidt's Brewery site (now the Piazza at Schmidt's)". PhilaPlace. Retrieved May 9, 2017. 

External links[edit]