ask the marshall true west

Who established the first commercial brewery in the early West?

Emilie Harris – La Quinta, California

The first known brewery in the New World was established in 1612 in what is today’s Manhattan in New York. German David Yuengling started the oldest-operating brewery in the U.S. in 1829 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. An explosion of suds followed, in Wisconsin’s largest city, Milwaukee, during the 1840s. Best Brewing (Pabst) was the first, followed by Blatz, Schlitz and Miller.

In 1860, a German soap maker in St. Louis, Missouri, Eberhard Anheuser, bought a struggling brewery that would eventually be run by his son-in-law, Adolphus Busch. In 1876, that company, Anheuser-Busch, began brewing a style of beer, Bohemian lager, popular in Europe that it named after the city of Budweis. Budweiser became the first national brand of beer, largely because Anheuser-Busch was the first American brewer to distribute beer on refrigerated railcars.

brewery coors ask the marshall
Coors drinkers will be proud to know that this brewery was the first in the West. Shown here is the Coors logo from 1884.

Finally, in 1873, German immigrants Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler began brewing a Pilsner-style beer after buying a recipe from Czech immigrant William Silhan. In 1880, Coors bought out Schueler and became the sole owner. Starting with an initial investment of $20,000, Coors today has the largest single-site brewery in the world.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, e-mail him at

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