Warning: this link can be a dangerous bunny hole which can eat up your entire day. We suggest you just read the timeline you came for (click the "Read More" link below) and skip the thing about the tree entirely.
Name changes of the brewery throughout the years.
SEPT 4, 1781
- City of Los Angeles is founded between Tongva village of Yangna and a 300-year old, 200 ft. wide, & 60 ft. tall sycamore (for which Aliso St was later named)
- Spanish settlers dub the tree, visible from the "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de la Reina de los Angeles del Rio Porciuncula", dub the tree "El Aliso"
- Frenchman Jean-Louis Vignes opened a winery under the sycamore, building some one-story frame buildings to house his business (and giving his name to Vignes Street)
- The El Aliso Winery, named for the tree, became the center of LA's Frenchtown, and shipped 150,000 bottles of wine per year.
- 24-year-old George Zobelein arrives in Los Angeles from Bavaria and opens a grocery store at 6th and Spring streets.
- Zobelein takes a job bookkeeping at the New York Brewery on Third Street between Main & Spring, where he meets Joseph Maier.
- Joseph Maier left his job at the New York Brewery and purchased the Eintracht Saloon at 163 North Spring St.
- The Vignes family sold out to (different) German immigrants who opened the Philadelphia Brewing Company on the site, reusing the frame buildings
- Joseph Maier and George Zobelein buy the seven-year-old Philadelphia Brew House Brewery and rename it “Maier & Zobelein Brewer”
- The new L.A. brewers became extremely successful as part of a wave of German brewers making a light, pilsener-style lager throughout the U.S. in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Their style of brew, which fermented at colder temperatures using a different type of yeast, was a relatively new arrival in North America, where beer drinkers were accustomed to ales brewed at room temperature in the British tradition. Greater availability of ice, better transport, and the advent of refrigeration made these new lagers possible, and thirsty European immigrants imported the demand.
- The partners replaced the frame buildings with a huge, multi-storied brick edifice, apparently sparing the tree only because of Zobelein. The tree was severely pruned on three sides nonetheless but remained at the brewrey's center, giving the brewery it's distinctive "U" shape and shading the wagon yard.
- This brewery and its facilities across Aliso St forced the large curve in the US 101 freeway when it was constructed 65 years later
- One of the El Aliso's remaining branches fell and crushed a beer wagon valued at $400. In a fit of revenge, and over Zobelein's strong objections, Maier had all the branches removed from the tree, leaving only its trunk.
- This event marked the end of not only Meir & Zobelein's good relations, but also the end of a tree that had stood since Columbus landed in the New World.
- Los Angeles Brewing was originally founded in August by P. Max Kuehnrich an d Edward Mathie.
- In the years after the Civil War, waves of new immigrants and the national craze for German-style "beer gardens" created such a demand for malted spirits that beer replaced hard cider as America's most popular alcoholic drink. In response to that booming demand, the Los Angeles Brewing Co. opened in 1897 on the banks of the Los Angeles River, whose then cool and flowing waters were a key ingredient of the beer. The LA Brewing Co was primarily a garden, with sales and delivery of beer to other locations being a very small business in LA at the time.
- Note that this was the second major beer garden to be built in LA. The first dated from 1882, when Jacob Philippi built his famed beer garden and brewery at the summit of Fort Moore Hill where he opened New York Brewery, the first brewery in Los Angeles. By 1887, Philippi had enough of his brewery on the summit. He sold the place to Mary Banning, widow of Phineas Banning, the founder and “father” of the Port of Los Angeles, and moved to Third St. between Spring and Main.
- They produced a lager beer, a malt extract called Mission Malt Tonic, and a near beer called "Temperance" which had less than 2% alcohol.
- Edison Electric opens Steam Plant #3 at the end of Chesnut St. (later Ave. 21). This was a DC electric plant which supplied power to the homes of the well-funded in turn-of-the-century East LA via underground cables. This was one of several DC plants which - due to the problems transmitting DC electricity over long distances - powered neighborhoods around them. (Ironically, this continued through to the teens, and eventually led to the decommission of the plant in 1925, although it had been out of service for 7 years prior.)
July 11, 1905
- Maier, who had been confined to the family home for the two previous years, died due to heart failure at the age of 53.
- Maier left his share of the brewery to his sons.
August 1, 1905
- Zobelein sues for control of the Maier & Zobelein Brewery (formerly the Philadelphia Brew House)
- Zobelein awarded control of Maier & Zobelein by court.
- Maier brothers buy out Zobelein's share of Maier & Zobelein for a half-million dollars, and rename the company to Maier Brewing.
- Zobelein purchased the ten-year old Los Angeles Brewing Company, located on the L.A. River near Eastlake Park.
- Brews brew a line of beers, including a pilsener called Eastside, Old Mission Malt, a potent bock and, later, Old Tap Lager.
- Since his brewery was on the east side of the Los Angeles River, Zobelein called his new beer Eastside.
- Zobelein crafted a line of beers, ranging from a pale lager to a stronger, darker bock, and sold them under his new Eastside brand.
- The plant conjured up the vision of a quaint Bavarian-style brewery, embracing 20 acres between the river and the railroad tracks. Over the years, the tap room known as the Old Mission Room became a landmark for tourists.
- It was an attractive environment for other reasons, as well. In an era when Los Angeles was characterized by bad relations between workers and management, the Eastside Brewery was a happy exception.
- Brewery workers--unionized from the day the plant opened--always were among the city's best-paid and had excellent working conditions.
- Until Zobelein's death in 1936, most of the union meetings were conducted in German.
- As the years went on, the workers' benefits mounted.
- Lunch periods at Eastside were paid--a rarity at the time
- vacation benefits were among the most liberal available, ranging to eight weeks annually after 20 years.
- the most important perks were the guaranteed seven-minute beer breaks every hour (beer was free and unlimited) and employee rights to buy take-home beer at 40% to 50% off retail.
JAN 16, 1919
- The Volstead Act is passed, starting Prohibition
- When Prohibition started in California in 1920, Zobelein continued business making apple cider, pineapple juice, a root beer and Eastside, which was now a near beer.
- They had trouble keeping the cider from fermenting too much, making it too "hard" to legally sell so they dropped that part of the business as well as the pineapple juice, which simply wasn't selling.
- They also gave up selling the root beer in bottles and distributed it solely in barrels.
- The big sell for the brewery, besides Eastside near beer, was denatured alcohol. The brewery brewed Eastside as a regular beer, then removed the alcohol.
- The alcohol was then sold to industrial companies, such as those that made paint as well as for companies making vanilla extract. It was also sold to doctors and dentists.
- Doctors were allowed to buy 5 gallons a year with special permits.
- Dentists were allowed 2 gallons a year.
- Hospitals and drug stores could also buy it, the amount depending on their needs.
- Los Angeles Brewing made a good business of selling alcohol to the medical market under the brand name "Tru-Grain."
- Southern California Edison decommissions Steam Plant #3.
March 22, 1933
- 21st Amendment is passed, ending Prohibition
April 7, 1933, @ 12:01 am
- The brewery had seven acres of land so each truck was filled with bottles and barrels of beer, and then, accompanied by two treasury agents, moved them to their parking spot to await midnight.
- Because they were brewing real beer already, all the brewery had to do was skip the denaturing process. Numerous trucks were parked at the brewery loaded and ready to go as the day when legal beer could be shipped approached.
- Actor Walter Huston said a few words and Jean Harlow broke a bottle over the first truck in line christening the brewery's rebirth. The trucks started rolling out the gates, most with one or two armed guards riding along.
- When the night was done one executive for the brewery reported they had a stack of money 18 inches high and when they counted all the night's receipts they found they had taken in over one quarter of a million dollars for their beer.
- Zobelein died in 1936 and his son took over the brewery.
- Introduced cans, choosing flat tops.
- Brewed & canned Eastside, Eastside Ale
- Also produced Brown Derby and other regional beers
- Introduced a premium beer called Luxury Extra Dry Pilsner.
- Eastside Brand Beer and LA Brewing Co. are sold to Pabst
- Pabst took over management of Los Angeles Brewing and added new brewing facilities next to the old buildings.
- Continued making Eastside Beer but it took a back seat to Pabst's own Blue Ribbon brand.
- Eastside - the beer sold at Dodger Stadium’s opening day - is renamed Eastside Old Tap and marketed as a low-priced discount beer.
- $400,000 fire destroyed the storage building.
- Pabst discontinues operations at its Los Angeles plant
- Then the brewery was put on the market for $6.6 million