The Knapstein Brewery was in operation in New London, Wisconsin, from 1869 until late 1958. At its peak, the Knapstein Brewery had a one-hundred mile radius sales area around New London. While it was in operation, Knapstein's contracted a vast array of advertising and promotional marketing items ... everything from pens and match books, to tip trays, mirrors, playing cards, ashtrays, and Christmas music books.
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The following article appeared in the July 10, 1952, New London Press Republican (the issue celebrating the New London Centennial):
The Knapstein Brewing Co., 505-511 E. Cook street, is a New London landmark. One of the oldest and most widely and better known of the city-s industries, it has been almost exclusively a family enterprise since Theodore Knapstein, father of the present owner, purchased an interest in the small business which was the Joe Lechner brewery.
From that time on the Knapstein name has been synonymous with the brewing industry. For approximately 50 years Theodore Knapstein was connected with and guided the New London brewery, shifting the reigns of management to his eldest son, Mathias W. Knapstein, only a few years before his retirement in 1917.
Born in Germany Nov. 12, 1848, the son of Mathias Knapstein, Theodore was six years old when his parents brought him to this country. He was reared on a farm in Greenville Township, Outagamie county, Wisconsin, securing his education in a log schoolhouse until he was 15 years old. He then helped on his father's farm until he reached his majority when he came to New London and with the Messrs. Becker and Beyer, purchased the small Lechner brewery, a small frame plant. He contributed $1,500 of the purchase price of $5,000 and the new business was known as Becker, Beyer and Company, with Theodore Knapstein as its directing head. Following the death of Mr. Becker, Mr. Knapstein and his brother, Henry, took over the business and together they conducted it until 1908 when Henry withdrew. In the same year the Knapstein Brewing Co. was organized, Theodore taking his sons into the business with him. The business was incorporated at $50,000 and officers were Theodore, president, Henry T., vice president, Mathias W. secretary and treasurer. William M. Knapstein present owner, a member of the board of directors was the brewmaster and contributed much to the popularity of the Knapstein brew. New buildings were constructed and modern equipment installed. The brewery's output was 60 barrels daily or 20,000 barrels annually.
Active in Politics
The members of the Knapstein family have always been active in politics. Theodore served as a member of the village board, later as a member of the common council and for two terms was mayor, winning commendation for his efficiency and abiity (sic) in that office. He was elected on the Democratic ticket to the state legislaure (sic) in 1889 and was re-elected in 1891. It is a singular fact that he should have been a member of the General Assembly when there were 29 Democratic members in the year of the Democratic landslide in Wisconsin, and also been one of the meager (sic) minority of Democrats when there were 29 Republican members. He served as postmaster here during President Cleveland's second administration. His entire public service was characterized by faithful discharge of duty and honest and efficient handling of the affairs of his various offices.
Theodore Knapstein was married in September 1879 to Miss Frances Werner, a native of Wisconsin. They had 12 children, Margaret, who married Joachim Poepke; Mathias, who married Eleanor Ostermeier; Magdalane who married John Croak; Frances, now deceased, she was married to Frank Hetzer; Irene A., now deceased; Henrietta who was married to Leonard Heuer; Henry fho (sic) married Josephine Simon of Green Bay; William M., who married Evelyn Kitowski; John, married to Mary Polzin; Theodore Jr.; Raymond who married Stella Brown of Woodruff and Loraine, now Mrs. Walter Kadell of Birmingham, Mich. There are 34 grandchildren and 66 great grandchildren. The Knapsteins are members of the Roman Catholic church of Most Precious Blood congregation and one of Theodore Knapstein's brothers, William, was a Catholic priest.
Several years before his retirement, Mr. Knapstein gave over active management of the brewery to his eldest son Mathias, who had prepared himself for a business career at a business college in Milwaukee following his grade school education here. Like his father he has been active in politics, serving four years as city treasurer, four years as mayor, becoming known as "the kid mayor" because of his extreme youth, later serving again as city treasurer and alderman. He became active in local politics again three years ago when he was appointed first ward alderman to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Theodore Thomas. When his terms expired in the spring of 1950 and 1952, he sought and won re-election.
The brewery continued operations until the advent of prohibition in 1919 and for eight years the buildings were unused, except for the building which was the bottling house during brewery operations, which was sold in 1922 to the Wolf River Ice Cream Co., now the Verifine Dairy Products Company, and converted by that company into an ice cream plant. Five years later, William M. Knapstein, his cousin, William H. Knapstein of Greenville, and John Haug of Appleton, purchased the remaining brewery property, land and buildings, and forming a partnership, began the manufacture of wort, a malt extract, in the old brewery building. After three years, Mr. Haug withdrew and the Knapstein cousins continued the manufacture of wort until the repeal of the 18th amendment in 1932, legalizing the manufacture of fermented malt beverages. The two Knapsteins immediately began readying the buildings for the manufacture of beer and in May, 1933 formed the Knapstein Brewing Co., a closed corporation with capital stock of $100,000, the shares distributed between them and their wives. Officers elected were William H. Knapstein, president, Floney Knapstein, secretary and treasurer. In June of 1933 M. W. Knapstein returned to New London from Chicago to become office manager for the corporation, and Knapstein's beer was again on sale July 14, 1933.
In October, 1944, William M. Knapstein acquired all the stock of the company, making it a family affair, with his wife and three children, Mrs. Fred Hammang, Fond du Lac, Paul E. Knapstein, New London, and Mrs. Roy Wettstein, Fond du Lac, sharing in stock. William, elected president of the corporation, assumed the management of the business, and his daughter, Maxine, now Mrs. Hammang, secretary and treasurer, took a position in the office. Other officers elected were Paul, first vice president, and Evelyn E., second vice president.
After acquiring full control of the corporation Mr. Knapstein began an extensive program of improvements, including installation of new bottling equipment, brewing equpment (sic) and refrigeration, and the construction of a five stall garage.
The present output of the brewery is being sold within a radius of 100 miles.
The present owner attended grade school in New London and later studied brewing at the Hanke Brewers Academy in Milwaukee, graduating in 1909. He returned to New London to become brewmaster in his father's brewery and worked in that capacity until 1916 when he purchased the Schantz farm on Highway 45 north of the city and farmed until 1921. He then was employed at the E. H. Ramm Hardware store until he entered the wort business. He is a member of Most Precious Blood Catholic church and the Knights of Columbus and is a director of the Catholic Cemetery association. He has three children and ten grandchildren. His son, Paul, affiliated with his father, is brewmaster and manager of the brewery. Paul is married to Marie Garrow and has four children, Sharon, Thomas, James and Billy.
Present officers of the company are William, president, Paul, vice president and Evelyn E., secretary and treasurer.
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Click on the links below if you would like to see more Knapstein Brewery memorabilia.
Knapstein mirror with picture of President Eisenhower Knapstein cork coaster--octagonal coaster printed in blue Page of assorted labels; Krausen; Draft; and a Malt Liquor quarter barrel label. Knapstein's Select tray Quality for 50 years 12-oz beer label; Knapstein's Beer; Internal Revenue Tax Paid Bock Beer label #2; Knapp's Bock Beer label; 12 fluid ounce. Bock Beer label #4; Yellow "Bock Beer" label; 12 fluid oz.; Internal Revenue Tax Paid Holiday Beer label; beautiful yellow Holiday Beer 12 oz. label with crisp winter graphics. Bock Beer label #1; 12 oz. Bock Beer label with ram's head; Internal Revenue Tax Paid. Bock Beer label #3; Knapp's Bock Beer label; 7 fluid ounce. Embossed bottles with old "blob tops" for receiving corks. Quart Beer Label Knapstein's Beer; Contents One Quart; Internal Revenue Tax Paid. Dutch Girl Tin; "Red Band And Select Bottle Beer" Cases: Eight different cases (4 wood, 4 cardboard), pony keg, and a small metal barrel. The Knapstein Product container may have been used for wort. Advertising Sign; a nice cardboard sign: "A Masterpiece of Fine Brewing...Knapstein's Krausen Beer" Thermometer; Crisp white with red thermometer; metal with glass tube intact; Knapp's Bohemian Style Beer. Special Brew Tin; brunette woman dressed in light blue with a dainty glass of beer. "Best Friends" Tray Beautiful tray with woman and horse. Three Coasters; one octagonal wood, one square cork and one round cardboard coaster. Alfter Brau; 12 ounce bottle. Old Embossed Bottle; blob top for receiving cork. Embossed bottle closeup; close-up view of embossing. Christmas carol songbooks Pencils, playing cards, memo Reverse painting on glass; dated. Ashtrays; six different ashtrays; five of them are glass. 5 Tip Trays; Special Brew tip trays with abosolutely gorgeous graphics. Three trays with beautiful women, one with a horse, and one with an elk. Bottle Openers--punched steel and metal with material handle Barrel-shaped tin; Looks like a stylized wooden keg and says "We Serve Knapstein's Beer" Advertisement in the back of a mid-1950s farmer's plat book Xmas Brew Label--very festive! Draft Brew Picnic Jug--1/2 gallon Draft Beer bottle Postcard showing Knapstein Brewery. On the back, the sender wrote: "There's a lot of good beer in this town." Glass with white letters and no chips. Deed and mortgage signed by Theodore Knapstein in 1887. Closeup photograph of deed and mortgage, including Theo's signature. Metal Krausen Beer Thermometer with glass still intact. Five Different Knapstein Brewing Company Matchbooks. Five different crowns (bottle caps). Relatively small easel-backed mirror meant for sitting on bar top. Three sizes of Old Lager Beer bottles. World World War II map with Axis and Allies powers sponsored by Knapstein Brewing Co. Map detail of World War II map asking us to support the war effort by buying war bonds. Five different embossed bottles that were made to have crowns. Large Bock Beer poster with ram's head. Pair of Bock Beer bottles with ram's head (two different). 12 ounce Select bottle with green label. Alfter Brau beer label with jolly men drinking mugs of beer. Four different bottles: Tiny Beer, Alfter Brau, Bock Beer & Red Band Beer. Knapstein Krausen Beer bottles. Old Lager bottle with gold border around label. Knapp's bottles. Knapp's Bohemian Style bottles. Old Lager bottles with yellow border around labels. Rectangular Red Band tray; brunette woman with a bunch of flowers drinking a glass of beer. Round Red Band tray with woman standing in a window, surrounded by flowers, holding a glass of beer. Beautiful one-color Bock Beer label with fairy-tale-type little men; "Internal Revenue Taxpaid" Advertisement from an old business directory for T. Knapstein "Brewers & Maltsters." Weather station Krausen Beer mirror; with barometer and thermometer. Two vintage tap knobs and a vintage tap marker...great variety. Knapp's Bohemian Style Beer mirror ("We Suggest...") Advertising sign: "You'll Like Knapstein's Krausen Beer, It's Better -- TRY IT" Tax Stamp: Quarter barrel Internal Revenue Tax Stamp for "Fermented Malt Liquor" Tax Stamp: Eighth barrel Internal Revenue Tax Stamp for "Fermented Malt Liquor" Red Band Beer label; red & white. Bohemian label; mostly brown, with bottle neck label. Krausen Beer calendar; white with black and red printing; dated 1944. Gold colored beer barrel: large full-sized barrel with decent wear Top of metal pony keg: Knapstein Brewing Co New London Wis 3 7/8 Full view of metal pony keg (3 7/8) Stack of assorted beer cases and barrels. Stack of assorted beer cases and barrels (another view). Nice wood beer case full of beer bottles. Closeup of recycled barrel retagged for Knapstein Brewery. Closeup of very old small wooden barrel for Knapstein Brewery. Very old wood quarter barrel for Knapstein Brewery. Closeup of tag on aluminum barrel. Closer up detail of stack of cases and barrels. Metal barrel tag on metal barrel Barrel tag on another metal barrel Another advertisement from an old plat book: The Knapstein Brewing Comp'y An advertisement from an old newspaper: New London Brewery, Theo Knapstein & Co An old photo postcard showing the brewery in the background Leather key keep with original tag Another octagonal cork coaster with blue ink A round cardboard coaster with a very jolly man on it Closeup of city map: New London Brewery Thank you, George, for letting us take photos of your labels. Check out the memorabilia pricing pages to see more photos.