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Image from Hyman’s Handbook of Indianapolis. It should be noted that this image does not appear to match any of the Indianapolis Brewing Company’s breweries in operation in 1896, as they were in mostly residential areas and comprised of much smaller buildings.

March 1 is the semi-official Beer Day holiday of Iceland, marking the end of their Prohibition in 1989. It is just one of several official and unofficial beer holidays around the world and a good excuse to discuss Indianapolis’s rich brewing past. We will try to highlight a piece of the history on each of the upcoming beer holidays as well.

Today is a short look at the biggest and longest-lived brewing company, Indianapolis Brewing Company.

The Indianapolis Brewing Company was formed in 1887 from a consolidation of three well-established brewing companies in the city: C. Maus Brewery, CF Schmidt Brewing Co, and P. Lieber Brewing Company. Each of the three breweries continued separate operations for a time, with the Lieber branch, located on Madison Avenue at Parkway Avenue, becoming the main brewery for the company. It had rail service, which gave it the ability to easily distribute the IBC beers throughout the state. The Maus branch was located at New York Ave and Agnes Street until closing in 1900. The Schmidt branch, on McCarty Street at High Street, operated until 1920, presumably since it was not needed for the non-alcholic Prohibition-era IBC products. Both operations were large enough to fill two city blocks each.

Albert Lieber, maternal grandfather of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., become the second company president when his father retired after a year due to poor health. He continued as president for many years, greatly expanding the business during his tenure, though I cannot find exactly when he stepped down.

Albert Lieber

Around the turn of the century, the IBC’s products were highly acclaimed. They won a gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1900 and the grand prize gold medal at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, among other awards.

Like many large breweries, the Indianapolis Brewing Company was able to build a non-alcoholic product base in the time before Prohibition and so was able to survive the dry time by making legal medicinal tonics “Ozotonic” and malt extracts. I presume they probably also sold wholesale yeast, as that was another common non-alcoholic product, and maybe other

From 1933 to 1935, the Indianapolis Brewing Company was briefly renamed Indiana Breweries, Inc. The company continued operations until 1948.

Probably the best known IBC brew was Circle City Beer, though there were more than a dozen brands used over the 60-year history of the company.

The Maus brewery building on New York Ave may have lasted until 1958, but is now a parking lot for IUPUI. The Schmidt brewery on McCarty street is now the location of an Eli Lilly complex. The Lieber brewery on Madison Avenue is now the parking lot for a car auction company.

Sources:

Indiana Brewing History, http://www.indianabeer.com/History/IH-In.html

Hyman’s Handbook of Indianapolis, 1897.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Rate Maps, 1898 and 1915.

 

12 responses to “Indianapolis Brewing Company”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    Due to the German influence in Indianapolis, brewing is very much a part of Indianapolis’ cultural, social, and economic history, and to some extent its political history.

  2. Kim Koren says:

    I have an old case of Indianapolis beer at the bottom of the bottle it says root im thinking this was made during prohibition and would like to know more. Thank you

  3. […] uses a vintage beer bottle from Indianapolis Brewing Company.  (To learn more about IBC, check out this post on Historic […]

  4. Historic Fixture | annumography says:

    […] uses a vintage beer bottle from Indianapolis Brewing Company.  (To learn more about IBC, check out this post on Historic […]

  5. Brad Benefiel says:

    Did the Indianapolis Brewing Co. ever make Budweiser ?

  6. Jim Miller says:

    Yes, they did make a brand of beer called “Budweiser” and it was very popular. but it has no connection or affiliation to Anheuser-Busch or the Budweiser we know now. It was just a brand name.

  7. DavidE says:

    Root may refer to the glass company that made the bottle. The Root Glass Company of Terre Haute is best known for the design of the Coke bottle shape and often had ROOT on their bottles or R.G.CO.

  8. Sandra Eader says:

    I recently found a lighter in my grandmother’s writing desk. The lighter says Indianapolis Brewing Company. Was this maybe a promotional item? It’s very small, a little bigger than a USB flash drive.

  9. Bill Whittington says:

    I have a framed Indianapolis Brewing Co. poster. It is 22 by 32 inches. It says OUR COMBINED PLANTS. There is a name which I assume might have been the printer or something. It is the name ROPKEY. Also in Crawfordsville, there is a large painting of the winged lady on the side of the Servies insurance building., For TAFEL BEER brewed by INDIANAPOLIS BREWING CO.

  10. Thomas J Dicus says:

    I got from my Grandfather Tavern owner, a beer serving or beverage tray from the Indianapolis Brewing Co. back in the 1040’s that says Indianapolis Brewing Co. The picture on it is a bottle of Duesseldorfer style Beer with the Indi brewing co. sign on the bottle in small letters. Also on the tray is a picture of a cock pheasant in a pan and another bird, possibly a Hen Pheasant and a beer glass. The tray also says on the ends inside the pan “GRAND PRIZES + GOLD MEDALS+ CROSS OF HONOR’ The other says “THE WORLD’S STANDARD OF PERFECTION” And on the sides inside the pan says “INDIANAPOLIS BREWING CO>” and DUESSELDORFER BEER” This is all I have as a reminder of my late dear Grandfather
    John Eckhardt.

  11. Jerry Emery says:

    You folks who commented on this. Keep in mind that the IBC was reformed in the 1980s and used several of the recipes of the original. The two I remember best were Circle City Beer and Main Street Lager. They too have sadly went under. One of the first craft brewers in the nation. Any memorabilia that you find may possibly be from that incarnation.

  12. Vickie L Gibson says:

    I have on of these turquoise bottles are they worth anything? Funny the bottle at the bottom says This Bottle is Never Sold….what is that all about? Thank you!

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