Drewry/ Muessel Brewing Company

Drewrys, formerly Muessel Brewery. Date of photograph unknown, however, we presume it was taken sometime between 1936, when Drewrys purchased it, and 1947. The area to the bottom right of the photo is now a Martins Supermarket. The store was the first Martins and was built in 1947 at Portage and Elwood. Photo courtsey and licensed through Northern Indiana Center for History, South Bend, Indiana.

 

Another business pioneer family to arrive in America and South Bend was the Muessel Family. The Family emigrated to America in 1852. The Muessel Brewing Company was founded by Christopher Muessel in 1852, shortly after his arrival in South Bend. Muessel was born into a family of brewers from Arzberg, Germany and quickly established his own brewery in America. Located originally at Vistula Avenue and St. Joseph Street, Muessel purchased land along Portage Avenue. One of the reasons for his choice of the new brewery site was an inexhaustible source of water in artesian wells. Another was easy access to railroads and tracks were ran into the brewery site.

Aerial view of the plant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Left: Drewry's Brewery 2002 Picture taken from Elwood Street of office and brewery, north wall. Company name is still appears on the stones above the doorways. Right: Brewery complex photographed from the south. It appears as if part of the structures are undergoing demolition. Picture was taken from what I presumed to be the floor of the old shipping department, because off to the right of the picture the railroad tracks which once serviced the plant are still in place. To the south (behind me) of where this picture was taken there is part of a building which has many truck doors. Combined with the railroad tracks, it would be a logical guess it was indeed shipping.

Details of south face of shipping building. Note railroad tracks along west side of the building. Logic suggests this is where railcars were loaded with Drewry's products for shipment throughout the country.

At the time of the purchase, the area of the new brewery was north of the city's boundries. In 1865 construction began on what was to become the Muessel Brewery. The buildings were substancial brick structures and Christopher Muessel made sure that his brewery was equipped and supplied with every modern appliance known in progressive beer brewing. Muessel also invented a racking machine and bottle draining rack that variations of the design are still in use today.

  

Left: West side of the brewery. The buildings have been pretty much neglected since the operations shut down back in the 1970. As evidenced by the pictures. Right: East side of the brewery. Many smaller companies now lease space in the former brewery complex.

After eighty four years in operation, on October 1, 1936, the brewery was sold to Drewry's Limited. Drewrys propsered and in 1967 increased the size of the plant with the addition of a 16,000 square foot building, which housed two additional bottling lines. At one time the Drewry label boasted a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman. After becoming recognizable, the label was changed to just a big "D" after the Canadian Government became uncomfortable with the idea of their uniformed Royal Canadian Mounted Police force a logo for an alcoholic beverage.

On August 1, 1972, Drewrys was sold to the G. Heileman Brewing Company of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The sale marked the end of the operation of the brewery on at 1408 Elwood, South Bend, Indiana. Workers who had been employed there for years were suddenly told their one time "job for life" was no longer. At the time of the closing, the average worker wage was $4.51 an hour. The 110 acre site with 7 buildings and 2 structures became silent. On December 28, 2000 the Muessel/ Drewrys Brewery was place on the National Historic Registery. The former plant today is known as the Omniplex and is in private hands.

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