Editor’s Note: Information courtesy of the DuBois Area Historical Society, Inc.
The DuBois Brewing Company was established by Frank Hahne Sr., born in Neiderfeleris-on-Rhine, Germany on March 31, 1856.
Hahne came to the United States when he was 19. He traveled to the agricultural region of Iowa after hearing about the need for help in this section. He worked there for a year before moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he got a job at a brewery. Later he returned to farming in Iowa and then to Chicago, Illinois. and Pittsburgh as an employee of various breweries learning all the intricacies of this trade. He was a brewmaster for Eberhardt and Ober (E&O) in the Troy Hill area of Pittsburgh.
Hahne came to DuBois in 1895 or 1896 to see if the area would be a suitable place to open his own brewery. He called for a public meeting to determine whether or not the company would be welcome.
There was some resistance to creating a brewery. Hahne decided to take his brewery elsewhere, but was convinced to return for a second meeting where the details were ironed out. A newspaper article from March 8, 1932, the year Hahne died, tells the story this way:
“The Board of Trade called such a meeting, where he, with several of his Pittsburgh associates, described their scheme and proposed to join with the citizens of DuBois in establishing a great brewery. . . To show their good faith, large sums were immediately subscribed and paid to the officials of the Board of Trade with the privilege for the DuBois citizens to subscribe such amounts as they might desire. The public assembly was so enthusiastic about the fine minds of Mr. Hahne and his associates that nearly every business man in the city subscribed to the enterprise, and a charter was applied for.
Hahne’s partners in his business were Mike Winter and Jack Weil. Hahne owned 51% of the company’s stock, and the rest was sold to interested buyers. The brewery opened in 1896 or 1897. It was built by A.D. Orner and included the brewery, outbuildings, icehouse, reception room, fireplace, and the Hahne House on Main Street, still a private residence .
By 1906, at least four products – DuBois Wurzburger, Hahne’s Export Pilsener, DuBois Porter, and DuBois Budweiser – were being made. Hahne’s use of the Budweiser name would create legal battles with brewing giant Anheuser-Busch leading to several lawsuits.
Eventually, the DuBois brewery grew to such an extent that branches were established in Buffalo, NY, and Newark, NJ. The grain that was left over from the beer was dried and sold to farmers to be used as feed for their livestock. At first horse and wagon were used for local deliveries, but anything further afield could only be delivered by rail, using covered wagons cooled by blocks of ice.
The Buffalo, Rochester, & Pittsburgh Railway Company (BR&P) served the brewery. Two branch tracks from the main line ran through Pentz Run to the complex. The railroad provided its specially designated brewery cars, white with trademark lettering, which cost the brewery $50 in 1899.
More than 100 employees were on payroll, and the company was at its height when the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Prohibition Amendment, was passed in 1918. Throughout Prohibition , the brewery remained open by converting to the sale of soft drinks and nearly beer. and the opening of a division called H & G Ice Company. The DuBois Brewery was one of the few in the country not cited during Prohibition and one of the first to reopen when Congress passed the 21st Amendment. The sale of beer becomes legal again on April 7, 1933.
Unfortunately, Frank Hahne Sr., who died in March 1932, never got to see his brewery reopen. The reopening meant that the reduced team of 20 employees, which kept the factory open during Prohibition, grew to 108 with $200,000 a year in payroll. Carl Waldbisser returned to his duties as master brewer, a position he held for two decades before prohibition, and Hahne Porter and Hahne Export Pilsener were new products. The company had ordered 3 million bottles of beer when it reopened.
Upon the death of his father, leadership of the DuBois brewery passed to Frank Hahne Jr. with his sister, Marie, as vice president.
DuBois Brewery has had many successes and some setbacks defending its right to use the Budweiser name for over 60 years of brewing Budweiser beer. Beginning in 1905, when the brewery began using the name of one of its many beer brands, Hahne Sr. and later Frank Jr. maintained that their main beer brand name was derived from the brewery Original Budvar from Budweis, Germany, in the present. Czech Republic. It was the Royal Brewery of the Holy Roman Emperor dating back to the early Middle Ages. Effective October 31, 1970, however, Frank Hahne Jr. was prohibited from using the Budweiser name by federal court order.
In 1967 Frank Jr. sold the brewery to the Pittsburgh Brewing Company for $1 million. Five years later, in 1972, the Brasserie DuBois was permanently closed and more than 100 jobs were lost.
The brewery building complex, which had been used by various businesses over the decades since it closed as a brewery, was demolished in 2003.