DuBois Brewing Company

Frank_Hahne.jpg     The DuBois Brewing Company started by Frank Hahne Sr., who was born in Neiderfeleris-on-Rhine, Germany, on March 31, 1856. His father was a tenant famer for one of the great German nobles.    

       Hahne came to the United States at age 19. He went to the Iowa farming region having heard of the need for help in that section. He worked there for a year before moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he got a job in a brewery. Later he went back to farming in Iowa and then to Chicago, Ill,. and Pittsburgh as an employee of various breweries learning all the intricicies of that trade. He was brewmaster for Eberhardt and Ober (E & O) in Pittsburgh's Troy Hill area.

      He married Caroline Trum in Chicago in 1895 and they had four children, Caroline, Amelia, Marie, and Frank Jr.

       Hahne came to DuBois in 1895 or 1896 to see if the area would be a suitable place to open his own brewery. He requested a public meeting to determine whether or not the business would be welcome.

      There was some resistance to a brewery being established. Hahne decided to take his brewery elsewhere, but was convinced to come back for a second meeting where the details were worked out. A newspaper report on March 8, 1932, the year of Hahne's death, told the story in this fashion:

      "The Board of Trade called such a meeting, where he with several of his associates from Pittsburgh, outlined their project and offered to join with DuBois citizens in establishing a large brewery . . . To show their good faith large sums were forthwith subscribed and paid to the Board of Trade officials with the privilege to DuBois citizens to subscribe such amounts as they might desire. The public meeting was so enthusiastic at the fine spirit shown by Mr. Hahne and his associates that nearly all the business men of the city subscribed to the venture and a charter was applied for."

        Hahne's partners in his business were Mike Winter and Jack Weil. Hahne owned 51% of the stock in the company and the rest was sold to interested buyers. The brewery opened in 1896 or 1897. The brewery was built by A. D. Orner and included the brew house, outbuildings, ice house, hospitality room, smoke stack, and the Hahne home 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 produced. Hahne's use of the Budweiser name would create legal battles with the giant Anheuser-Busch Brewery leading to several court cases.


      Hahne also owned a farm off of what is now Route 322 east in Luthersburg (above), which he purchased from  the R. W. Moore estate in 1911. The orchard was selected by the state as a model demonstrating orchard and his 1,800-pound Percheron stallion, DuBois, took many blue ribbons when he exhibited him. He also bred Holstein cattle.

      John H. Hayes managed the farm from 1912-25 and Bill Fairman Sr. and Jr. farmed the grounds from 1936-53. DuBois Brewing sold the farm to Milton Sr., Milton Jr., and Gordon Hartzfeld in 1946. Hartzfeld sold his portion of the farm to Crescent Brick Company, who sold it to present owner Larry Baumgardner. Today the farm is a memory, the buildings are gone and the land strip-mined for coal. There is new growth grasses and small trees and the old farm has become home for wildlife.

      Ultimately, the DuBois Brewery grew to a point where branches were established in Buffalo, N.Y., and Newark, N. J. The grain that was left over from the beer was dried and sold to farmers to be used as feed for their cattle. Early on, horse and wagon were used for local deliveries, but anything further could only be delivered by the railroad, using boxcars kept cold by blocks of ice.

       The Buffalo, Rochester, & Pittsburgh (BR&P) Railway Company served the brewery. Two spur tracks from the mainline crossed over Pentz Run to the complex. The railroad provided their special designated cars for the brewery, white with trademark lettering, that cost the brewery $50 in 1899.

        Over 100 employees were on the payroll and the business was at its peak when the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Prohibition amendment, was passed in 1918. Throughout Prohibition the brewery stayed open by converting to selling soda pop and near beer; and opening a division called H & G Ice Company. The DuBois Brewery was one of the few in the country not to be cited during Prohibition and one of the first to reopen when Congress passed the 21st Amendment. The sale of beer became 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 skeleton crew of 20 employees, who kept the plant open during Prohibition, increased to 108 with $200,000 a year in payrolls. Carl Waldbisser resumed his duties as brewmaster, the position he held for two decades prior to Prohibition, and Hahne Porter and Hahne Expoert were new products. The company had orders for 3,000,000 bottles of beer when it reopened.

      With the death of his father, management of DuBois Brewery passed to Frank Hahne Jr. with his sister, Marie, as vice president. 

      The DuBois Brewery had many successes and some setbacks defending its right to use the Budwiser name for over 60 years that it brewed a Budweiser beer. Starting in 1905 when the brewery began the use of the name for one of its many beer brands,  Hahne Sr. and later Frank Jr. maintained that their major label beer’s name was derived from the original Budvar Brewery of Budweis, Germany, in the present Czech Republic. This 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 the using the Budweiser name by a Federal Court order.

         In 1967, because of no heirs and the fact that he was losing interest, Frank Jr. had sold the brewery to the Pittsburgh Brewing Company for $1 million, as the Budweiser name case was preceding through the appeals process. A temporary production output problem for Iron City and the DuBois competition was eliminated at the same time. Five years later, 1972, the DuBois Brewery was closed forever. The Pittsburgh company had been bound by the terms of sale to keep the DuBois plant operating for those five years. While under the ownership of Iron City, the Budweiser name case was settled with Anheuser-Busch for a reported million-dollar profit for Pittsburgh Brewing, which had won the U. S. Supreme Court decision. So in effect, Iron City Beer got the DuBois Brewery for next to nothing, however over 100 jobs were lost.

         The brewery building complex, which had been used by various businesses over the decades since closing as a brewery, was demolished in 2003. Clearfield County took over the largely condemned and abandoned area and tore down the derelict structures that summer. First to go was the H & G Ice Company followed by the stock house, offices, and, finally, the huge main brewery building and smoke stacks. During the demolition, the whole rear side collapsed unexpectedly with a loud crash and a billow of dust. Luckily, the workmen were on a break and no one was hurt. Rubble was piled to make a ramp that enabled the cranes to reach and safely remove the tall smokestacks. The powerhouse and the smaller outbuilding shops were the last to go. A DuBois landmark was gone.

By:  Tom Schott