The Nation’s Capital Brewmaster

Christian Heurich and His Brewery, 1842–1956


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About the Book

Christian Heurich (1842–1945) was not only Washington D.C.’s most successful brewer, he was the world’s oldest, with 90 years’ experience. He walked across central Europe learning his craft, survived a shipboard cholera epidemic, recovered from malaria and worked as a roustabout on a Caribbean banana boat—all by age 30. Heurich lived most of his life in Washington, becoming its largest private landowner and opening the city’s largest brewery. He won a “beer war” against his rivals and his beers won medals at World’s Fairs. He was trapped in Europe while on vacation at the start of both World Wars, once sleeping through an air raid, and was accused of being a German spy plotting to assassinate Woodrow Wilson. A notably odd episode: when they began to tear down his old brewery to build the Kennedy Center, the wrecking ball bounced off the walls. Drawing on family papers and photos, the author chronicles Heurich’s life and the evolving beer industry before and after Prohibition.

About the Author(s)

Mark Elliott Benbow is an assistant professor of American History at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.

Bibliographic Details

Mark Elliott Benbow

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 286
Bibliographic Info: 118 photos (22 in color), bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6501-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2934-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 5
1. Youth and Immigration: 1842–1870 9
2. Early Years in D.C.: 1871–1879 34
3. Moving Up in Business and Society: 1880–1894 56
4. High Point for Heurich Brewing: 1895–1900 95
Between pages 122 and 123 are 12 color plates containing 22 photographs
5. The New Century: 1901–1914 123
6. War and Prohibition: 1914–1920 158
7. Rebirth and the Final Act: 1921–1945 186
8. Afterwards: 1946–1962 223
Chapter Notes 235
Bibliography 253
Index 263

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Excellent…in-depth and comprehensive…. Benbow did a spectacular job with this book…a grand slam”—The Breweriana Collector
  • “Engaging and rich with detail…enjoyable and enlightening, offering the first full-length biography of this prominent and influential Washingtonian”—Washington History
  • “Breaks significant new ground on the life and times of Christian Heurich.”—Tim Holian, author of Over the Barrel: The Brewing History and Beer Culture of Cincinnati
  • “Striking in its level of detail, not only in its description of Heurich’s personal life but in its accounts of the many challenges the beer maker faced as he established one of Washington, D.C.’s pre-eminent breweries.”—Mark Noon, author of Yuengling: A History of America’s Oldest Brewery.