It's a week for announcements about the return of old beers. After finally posting my story about Baderbräu's second return, I received this PR notice about another, older Chicago brand.
“Berghoff is a true Midwestern beer. It was the first beer brewed and served in Chicago after the repeal of Prohibition; then, in 1960, Berghoff began brewing their beers in Wisconsin, where it will continue to be brewed today,” says owner Ben Minkoff, whose family has owned General Beverage Distributors for the past 80 years and purchased the Berghoff brand in 1994. “We want to bring back a sense of pride in drinking a hometown beer that is such a critical part of this region’s brewery history.”
Berghoff aims to capture a larger audience of beer lovers with its revamped product brought forth by the same down-home work ethic that has driven the company for over 120 years. Berghoff's new brews will be available beginning this June in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.
Minkoff consulted with brewing experts Randy Mosher (co-founder of 5 Rabbit Cerveceria) and brewing consultant John Hannafan to create the recipes for the beers to be brewed at the Stevens Point production facility. Berghoff's relaunch will be led by the seasonal Solstice Wit Beer (5.2% ABV), made with Calamansi juice (an Asian citrus fruit), and spices, a summery beer from a long tradition of unfiltered wheat beers. Solstice Wit joins Berghoff’s other major year-round labels: Straight Up Hefeweizen (5.2% ABV), a Bavarian hefe-weizen, with the creamy goodness of wheat, plus a fruity and spicy nose; Dortwunder Lager (5.5% ABV), a classic and evenly balanced pale lager in the Dortmunder tradition; Reppin’ Red Ale, Malt & Rye (6.2% ABV), a serious red ale that mixes tangy rye and crisp toasted malts with plenty of American hop character; Sir Dunkle Crispy Dark Lager (5.5% ABV), smooth and malty, with a bright crispness. Berghoff will also introduce the first beer in its Überbier Series, Germaniac Extra Pale Ale (6.3% ABV), brewed with honey and molasses, it will be a briskly hopped extra pale ale patterned after the old “outlaw” beer style, Kottbüsser.
“These beers are what Berghoff is all about: well-made, interesting beers that are easy to drink and suitable for any occasion all year round,” says Minkoff. “We’re proud of our updated portfolio, and we look forward to sharing them with old fans and a whole lot of new consumers who have never tried Berghoff before.”
The first batch of Berghoff beer was brewed in 1887 by Herman Berghoff and his three brothers, Henry, Hubert and Gustav, in Ft. Wayne, IN. By 1890, the brothers were producing 90,000 barrels of lager annually. During World War I, the brothers cemented their brewing company’s place in American history, changing their slogan from “a real German brew” to “a real honest brew” in honor of their adopted homeland. During Prohibition, Berghoff produced soft drinks, including a root beer and a malt tonic. Upon repeal, Berghoff beer was ready to pour at Chicago's downtown Berghoff Restaurant, the first liquor license to be re-granted in Chicago. In 1954, the Berghoff family sold their beers to the Flastaff Brewing Co. of St. Louis, The Joseph Huber Brewing Company of Monroe, Wisconsin took over brewing for Berghoff in 1960. The brewery was purchased and renamed Minhas Craft Brewery, and attention to its core brands like Berghoff and Huber seemed to slide. After some previous reformulations and rebranding efforts, Berghoff has finally made the jump to a new brewer