Posts Tagged ‘Piels beer’

Piels: one of the last Brooklyn breweries

September 6, 2011

The three Piels brothers came to Brooklyn from Germany and opened their eponymous brewery in the hinterlands of East New York in 1883.

They couldn’t have imagined that their beer—made with the preferred “soft” water native to Long Island—would be a hometown lowbrow (to put it mildly) favorite for the next 90 years.

[A Piels coaster from the 1950s. Less what? Non-fermented sugar.]

“Piels was selling about a million barrels a year in the mid-1950s, hardly a major player but still prized across the Northeast as one of those lower-end, popularly priced regional brands whose market had always been the working classes,” reports a New York Daily News article from 1998.

Part of Piels appeal were its popular Bert and Harry commercials. When the company dropped the campaign, the beer’s popularity plunged too. After taking over a few other local breweries, Piel’s sold itself to a Michigan brewer and bid Brooklyn good-bye in 1973.

A long-gone brewery in Staten Island

March 17, 2010

When you think of New York’s beer-brewing past, Bushwick—the once German neighborhood home to a dozen breweries in the 19th century—probably comes to mind. 

But Staten Island? Yep, the borough had a beer-making industry of its own, thanks to the fresh springs there.

One was the Rubsam & Horrmann Brewing Company, in the town of Stapleton (photo from the NYPL).

Was R&H beer-ale any good? I haven’t found anyone who recalls trying it.

But I did find some history. Launched in 1870 by two German immigrants, R&H switched to near-beer during prohibition before going back to the good stuff in the 1930s.

By 1953, R&H was bought out by the Piels company, which had its own brewery in East New York. Piels closed the R&H plant and the brand entirely a decade later.