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Halm Brewing Company, Bryan, Ohio

The following was donated by Halm family descendant Robert Smith.

My great-great grandfather, Jacob Konrad Halm immigrated to America in 1854 at the age of 20 from the small village of Baltmannsweiler, Schorndorf, Wuertemberg, Germany. In his small, mountaintop hometown village overlooking the Neckar River valley northwest of Stuttgart, his ancestors before him had been commercial brewers on a small scale and had passed the skills down to him. In 1864 he purchased the existing brewery of Henry Arnold located in a converted residence at the corner of Beech and Center streets in Bryan. When the demand for his fine beer exceeded the facility's capacity, he built a new structure on the site in 1873 (shown below). It was a three storey brick building measuring 80 ft. by 88 ft. plus a full stone basement built with archways for support and requiring 50 carloads of stone to construct. Contemporary reports claim it was the largest building of this construction type in northwest Ohio at that time and cost $75,000 to build.

The first beer Halm brewed was a Bavarian "Export" style which is much more robust in flavor than the beers we are accustomed to in America today. It also had the advantage of being able to withstand rough transport handling. The market of the brewery extended over a five county area of extreme northwest Ohio, western Indiana and southern Michigan. Some orders were shipped as far as Toledo and Detroit by rail. This Export style beer was also quite popular with the population of Bryan, who were mostly southern German immigrants like Jacob. Later, in the 1890s, Jacob's son (also named Jacob) switched to the then very popular "Pilsener" style which was a lighter brew (although still more robust than today's Pilseners). The most unique aspect of Halm's beer was the inclusion of 90 dozen egg whites in each 2,000 gallon batch. This was probably a totally unscientific family tradition but actually would have served to clarify the beer during aging, give it good heading qualities and add albumen proteins that the local barley grains may have lacked.

In 1883, Jacob Halm senior died in an accident in the brewery where he was killed instantly in some geared machinery. His widow and children took over ownership of the brewery and his son, Jacob, being 20 and already fully trained in the entire brewing business operated the brewery. During the remaining years of the brewery, Jacob junior made many improvements to the physical plant and brewing processes. His sister, my great grandmother, Julia, managed the office and bookwork. Julia's husband, my great grandfather, Franklin Kreagloh sold the beer and expanded the market. In spite of the excellent quality of the beer, the Temperance movement which had plagued the brewing business for years, finally won. In November, 1905 Williams County and many other counties in Ohio, voted dry. The family met and decided that was the end of the business. In the following February, the remaining beer in the large aging tanks in the cellar, was emptied into Lynn Run by Federal Tax Agents.

My great grandmother, Julia (Halm) Kreagloh, lived until 1957 and I remember her well. She talked romantically of the brewery and the memories and, until the day she died at age 93, she never went to bed at night before having her glass of beer.

Webmaster's addition:

Chronology of the Halm brewery from American Breweries II:

George Weiss1856-????
Henry Arnold ????-1865
Jacob Halm (Beech & Center Sts)1865-1884
Halm's Fountain City Brewery1884-1888
Halm Brewing Co.1888-1908

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