"The life story of a glass, or a bottle of beer as produced in the local brewery" in 1937
A view of the Chippewa Brewing Company circa late 1930s.
In April of 1937 it was announced that Manistee’s brewery was to be reopened under new ownership. While replacing the previous iterations of the local concern (the C.H. Daniels Brewery/Manistee Brewing Co.) this new brewery, named the Chippewa Brewing Company would continue to operate out of the same location (14 Mason Street) as the previous ones had.
The following lengthy article, published in the Manistee News Advocate on December 11, 1937, provides a wonderful description of the step-by-step process used in the creation of beer for the then new brewery:
“Labeled one of the city’s ‘new’ industries under the present management but long a familiar part of Manistee’s industrial setup is the firm best known locally as ‘the brewery’. Operating under new ownership after a period of flux following the repeal of the 18th amendment, the Chippewa Brewing Company is distributing a product that is carrying the name of the city to many corners of the state.
“Under the managership of Felix Boadway the company has installed much new equipment and now may well claim to be one of the most modern small breweries in the state, as it was many years ago before the prohibition era when it was under the original owners.
“Those who remember their own experiences of producing ‘home brew’ in the days when Volstead’s name was a by-word throughout the nation would marvel at the efficient, spick and span methods in which the modern, ultra-sterile and sparkling clear product is run off under up-to-date production methods.
“The local brewery produces a 100 percent grain beer. There is no syrup to cloy the state and make the beer sticky-heavy in body; there is no residue of brew ingredients to film the inside of the bottle or glass. In fact, there is no semblance of the methods which once made every fifth home in the United States a private brewery.
“An integral part of the beer, the specially treated, germinated barley malt, arrives at the brewery in bags, in carload lots. It is weighed and proportioned and is then steeped in the big mash tank on the first floor of the building, where it undergoes the peptonizing period, during which the albumen in the barley is developed.
“After this comparatively brief period, the temperature of the big tank is increased to a point where the next ingredient, a quantity of rice flakes, is added. These flakes, processed from pure rice, give the beer its color and “snap,” and insure a clean, zestful taste.
“This mashing process is then continued, under increased temperature, until the natural starches in the barley have been transformed into sugar. By this time, the actual alcoholic content of the beer has been determined – through the proportion of malt and the length of the mashing process.
“The liquid or ‘wort’ is then drawn off and pumped into a receptacle known variously as the brew kettle, ‘copper’ or hop kettle, which is in this brewery extends into the second floor of the building. Here the wort undergoes vigorous boiling, during which the undesirable albumen is precipitated in flakes, like the white of an egg. Here, too, is the hop process. According to the quality of the beer desired, hops are added. Hops used in the Manistee concern come from the Pacific Coast, in Oregon, and from Bohemia. As the hops become a part of the wort during a four-hour boiling, the liquid is made sterile by the high temperature.
“Thus ends the cooking process.
A write-up on the history of the C.H. Daniels' Brewery published in the "Salt City of the Unsalted Seas" publication in 1910.
“From the ‘copper’, the wort is then transferred though the hop strainer, where additional solids are removed, and thence to large pans termed surface coolers. After a brief halt there, the wort is sent on its way through a maze of copper pipes, which form what is known as the Baudelot cooler, where it is aeriated, in a slow process as it drips along the pipes.
“It’s drop to the fermenting cellar is the next step for the wort and here, in large tanks where the temperature is maintained between 46 and 48 degrees, this yeast, a special brewers’ brand, is added. This ‘bottom fermenting’ yeast, which acts just as the name implies in contrast to ‘top fermenting’ brands used in the manufacture of ale and porter, produces the spontaneous action which converts the sugar in the wort into alcohol – and then, by the way, the wort ceases to be wort and becomes beer. The other properties, beside the sugar remain, of course, and help to form the body of the beer.
“After eight or 10 days in the fermenting cellar, depending upon the strength of the yeast, the beer is drawn off and placed in stock tubs, where the yeast and heavier solids still remaining settle to the bottom of the tanks. This is by far the lengthiest period in the entire manufacturing process, requiring from six to eight weeks.
“When the beer becomes clear, it is pumped into the carbonizing tanks where it subsequently acquires its “zip” and tang. Here, under low temperature and high pressure, carbonic acid is injected into the product until it blends with the beer.
“Then the amber stream goes through another filter, from which it emerges as clear as crystal.
“At this point comes the parting of the ways for draft and bottle beer. That intended for draft use goes to the racking machine. Under reverse pressure it is placed in kegs. That is, the keg is first filled with air. Then the beer is pumped into the bottom, working against the air pressure in the container which is forced out at the top as the beer enters. The kegs, capped, are then kept at a temperature of about 34 degrees until ready for use.
“The beer destined for bottles, in the local brewery’s new system, is tapped directly from the carbonizing tanks. It flows through a copper pipe, from the brewery building to the bottling works, pushing through a government meter on the way. It enters a big wooden tank in the bottling works basement and from there goes directly to the bottle capper.
“The bottling equipment, recently purchased by the business concern, could be an entire story in itself. The bottles, after their trip through the washer, where they are given a going over by brushes under increasingly high temperatures, are placed on and endless belt, on which they go through the filler and capper and then into the pasteurizer. Here, again, the beer is subjected to high temperatures, in the final step to halt the growth of any microscopic particles of yeast which might possibly have escaped the vigilance of the previous filters. Emerging from the pasteurizer, the bottles are placed on another belt, leading through the labeling machine and then to the cases.
“That is the life story of a glass, or a bottle of beer as produced in the local brewery. Capacity in the production of a high standard beer in the local plant is 150 barrels a day.
“The company, despite its comparatively recent start, has made several important steps of expansion. The new bottling plant was the first. Today, a new warehouse was opened in Cadillac, with a special truck available to supply the needs of the Wexford County town.
“One would think that Manistee would be the Number One city of Chippewa beer. Such is not the case, believe it or nor. Taking the lead in consumption of Manistee beer is no other than the state capital, Lansing.
“This it is explained by Manager Boadway, is because Brewmaster Emil Hirzel, at one time did his brewing in Lansing, and old timers there welcome the opportunity of tasting his beer again.
“Brewmaster Hirzel, abreast of all modern developments in his trade, learned the fundamentals of his calling in the old Schmidt brewery in Toldeo, in 1899. He was graduated from the Wahl Henius school of brewing in 1911 and subsequently worked in Lansing, Alliance, Ohio and Toldeo.”
The Chippewa Brewing Company was short-lived as by the early 1940s, the brewery had discontinued its operation.