You probably don’t know the name of Frederick Lauer, but his influence is hard to deny when it comes to the U.S. beer industry — taxes, sanitation, quality, the fight against Prohibition and the development of fellowship among both American brewers and those abroad. To put it bluntly: Lauer established respectability in his profession during a time when it was unfashionable. The Bavarian-born Lauer became the first president of the United States Brewers Association. In fact, there’s a statue dedicated to him in his American hometown of Reading, Pa. Unfortunately, that iconic statue needs to be restored. Luckily, the Brewers Association (BA) recently stepped up and donated $25,000 to help make that happen.
The Brewers of Pennsylvania — the state’s official brewers guild — led the charge to collect donations to repair the statue of the pioneering brewer and the first president of the U.S. Brewers Association, which has stood over Reading for more than 130 years. The funds provided by the Brewers Association will support the restoration efforts to replace four bronze plaques that were removed by vandals from the side of the monument in April 2015.
We think that’s pretty darn cool, so props BA. Born in Germany in 1810, Lauer immigrated to the United States at age 12. He learned the brewing process at an early age from his father. By age 16, he was foreman for his family’s brewery, and at 25, he became the brewery’s proprietor. For decades to follow, through innovation, hard work and business savvy, Lauer established himself as a brewing pioneer not only locally, but throughout the country. To read his full story, cruise over to this website. It’s full of great beer history, especially Lauer’s fight against prohibition.
Lauer fought against Prohibition with more vigor than any other endeavor he embraced. Despite all of his noble civic efforts and political involvement, in the height of his career, he wrote, “I am a brewer first and a politician afterwards, or in other words, I do not intend to sacrifice my brewery and the accumulations of a long life for any empty honor of political predilections” (Daily Eagle). Lauer used the newspaper as a public forum for his views; whenever a minister would preach in favor of Prohibition, “the following day would find Lauer with a challenging statement to the newspapers” (Homan, p. 39). He argued that intemperance was a medical problem, and that it could never be contained through legal means. In 1881, in response to the growing number of Prohibitionists, an association called the Liquor Men was organized in Reading. At the first meeting, one member expressed the grievances of all alcohol producers when he professed, “We pay our taxes; we pay our license; we are friends to everybody; we are willing to let them alone and they must let us alone. We cannot all be ministers, lawyers or doctors. It is my trade and I intend to follow it up as best I can, honestly and as a good citizen” (Reading Eagle). Lauer, like other men in his profession, like those who erected his statue, tried to establish respectability in his profession during a time when it was unfashionable.