Lion Brewery, Inc.

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Lion Brewery, Inc.
Location Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
Opened 1905 (1905) as Luzerne County Brewing Company
Annual production volume 55,000 US beer barrels (65,000 hL) of Lionshead[1]
Owned by Privately Owned
Active beers
Name Type
Lionshead American lager
Lionshead Light American lager
Stegmaier Grand Hoppa Double IPA India pale ale
Stegmaier India Pale Ale American IPA
Stegmaier Gold Medal American lager
Stegmaier Liebotschaner Cream Ale Cream ale
Seasonal beers
Name Type
Stegmaier High Dive Belgian-style wheat ale
Stegmaier Oktoberfest Märzen
Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale
Stegmaier Winter Warmer Ale
Stegmaier Porter Porter

Lion Brewery, Inc, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, is one of the oldest breweries still in operation within Pennsylvania. Its beers and sodas are sold in Pennsylvania and neighboring states.[citation needed]


Lion Brewery, Inc. started as the Luzerne County Brewing Company with the acquisition of land from Delaware and Hudson Company in 1905.[2] The land was purchased for one dollar on the terms that the company would build a brewery capable of producing 100,000 barrels per year in just the first year and sell each barrel for no less than a dollar a piece. If the terms were not met, the land would return to the Delaware and Hudson Company.[3] The Luzerne County Brewery survived the terms of sale and was able to remain strong through the Prohibition years, 1920-1933, by brewing cereal beer.[4] Cereal beer is more commonly known as “near-beer,” as it has an alcohol content of about 0.5%, which is about a tenth of most beers.[3] Ted Smulowitz purchased the Luzerne County Brewery after Prohibition in 1933 and renamed it The Lion Brewing Company. The Smulowitz family privately owned and operated the brewery until 1993.

Stegmaier Brewing Company in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, circa 1930-1945

The Lion Brewing Company underwent many changes during the sixty-year Smulowitz ownership. Post-Prohibition, the beer brewing industry as a whole grew by leaps and bounds until around 1960, when the big breweries began to take control of the market. In an attempt to stay competitive, in 1974 the Lion Brewing Company bought the Stegmaier name, making it the only remaining brewery in Luzerne County and largest brewery in northeastern Pennsylvania. Stegmaier had been one of the largest independently owned breweries in North America as well as a gold-medal winning local brewery. In addition to brewing the Stegmaier beers, the Lion Brewing Company also diversified into making non-alcoholic beverages.[4] Currently there are eight non-alcoholic beverages made by the Lion, seven of which are part of the Olde Philadelphia line.[3]

In 1993, the Lion Brewing Company was purchased from the Smulowitz Family by the Quincy Partners. In 1996, the Quincy partners made the Lion Brewing Company public by selling shares on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange. In 1999 Chuck Lawson spearheaded the purchase of the Lion Brewery for 18.5 million dollars, thereby transferring the company back into private hands.[5]

On November 1, 2007, Chuck Lawson and Pat Belardi sold The Lion Brewery to private equity investors.

Recent events[edit]

Between 2007 and 2017 the Lion Brewery invested $20 million in updating brewery capabilities. Among these additions are a Krones Top Modul Labeller with Paper and PSL label capabilities, a Dual Deck Krones Pasteurizer, and two Alvey Palletizers. The company has also invested in various quality control measures such as a Quality Lab and on-staff Microbiologists.

The Lion Brewery hosted its first Oktoberfest celebration in 2005. This festival is designed to promote the brewery and German culture and to give people the chance to learn how beer is made, sample German food, and celebrate. Stegmaier Oktoberfest was brewed to be the official beer of the festival. Brewery tours are given on Saturday during the festival. Entertainment includes live bands, rides, games, wiener dog races and a fireworks display.

In November 2007, the Lion Brewery changed ownership. The brewery will be maintained as a private company.[6]

The Stegmaier building[edit]

Stegmaier Brewery
Steigmier Brewery PA.jpg
Location Roughly bounded by Coal, Welles, Market, Lincoln and Baltimore Sts., Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Area 4.6 acres (1.9 ha)
Built 1894 (1894)
Architect Wagner & Caper; Frey, McCormich & French
Architectural style Romanesque
NRHP reference # 79002292[7]
Added to NRHP May 30, 1979

The 19th century Stegmaier Brewery building in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a mammoth structure, has been reclaimed for productive use. Now, as the Stegmaier Federal Building, it offers office space for federal workers, keeping the federal presence centrally located in Wilkes-Barre's downtown area.

The Wilkes-Barre Information Systems Support Center is an information technology development facility for the United States Postal Service that is located in the Stegmaier Building. The Internal Revenue Service also maintains a satellite office within the building.



Lionshead is an economy brand 4.5% abv deluxe pilsner introduced in 1905, and made with American malts, corn and hops. It is primarily available in Pennsylvania, with limited distribution in other states.[8] Lionshead bottle caps display rebus puzzles originally created by the Falstaff Brewing Corporation.[9] The answer to 20 Lionshead's puzzles can be found here:[10] and maybe here:[11] The top of the Lionshead cap has a gold lion's paw on a maroon background and the words "claw off" on it. There is a Lionshead Light version[12] and it has recently become available in cans, as opposed to the bottles used since 1905.


Lionshead bottle

Stegmaier products include Stegmaier Gold, Amber Lager, Midsummer White, Oktoberfest, Holiday Warmer, IPA, Porter and Liebotschaner Cream Ale. They also do contract brewing for Pabst Brewing Company brands. Their non-alcoholic brands include Lion Brewery Root Beer and Olde Philadelphia Gourmet Sodas.

Contract Brewing[edit]

The Lion Brewery is also a contract brewing partner for various Beer and non-alcoholic beverage brands.

Brewery Capabilities[edit]

  • IDD Super King Racking Line Capable of producing ½,¼ & ⅙ Keg (with or without flash pasteurization)
  • 7, 9.3, 12, 16 oz Bottles in 4/6 Pack, 6/8/10/12 Pack Wrap and 24 Count Loose (brew and Batch)
  • Any size can with a 202 lid, any packaging from a 4 pack to a 24 pack including shrink wrap loose.
  • Filter and Centrifuge Capable
  • Ale and Lager Yeast propagation
  • 75,000 sq ft facility has the capacity for 4x1,500 BBL, 12 x 600 BBL(storage and fermentation) and 10 x 350 BBL


  1. ^ "Lion Brewery About Us". n.d. Retrieved 2015-10-29. Lionshead is the flagship brand of the Brewery, selling over 750,000 cases annually.
  2. ^ "WebAccess:". Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  3. ^ a b c "History « The Lion Brewery". Archived from the original on 2011-03-05. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  4. ^ a b "Beverage World". Beverage World. Archived from the original on 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  5. ^ "WebAccess:". Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  6. ^ "WebAccess:". Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  7. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  8. ^ "Map of where Lion Brewery products are available". Archived from the original on 2011-03-05. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  9. ^ Alan Switzer. "Images of the different beers that use the Falstaff puzzle caps". Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  10. ^ "Lionshead Puzzle Cap Answers". Retrieved 2018-01-23.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2010-12-03.[unreliable source?]
  12. ^ "Brewer's website on Lionshead light". Archived from the original on 2011-03-05. Retrieved 2011-03-24.

External links[edit]