City Brewery

Superior, between Lafayette and Swan Creek

The City Brewery was established in 1853, when Andreas Stephan converted his tannery into a brewery. The next year, former wine merchant Peter Lenk purchased the brewery for $1,000.

Peter Lenk who came to Toledo from Wurzburg, Bavaria in 1848.  Lenk was the son of a prominent family back in Bavaria.  In fact, he left at the age of eighteen, one year after his father gave him a brewery, to make a new life here in the United States.  Apparently, Lenk was a revolutionary activist opposed to King Ludwig’s government in Bavaria and like many other Europeans disenchanted with hereditary rule, he headed for America to explore democracy.  As the story goes, Lenk was on his way to settle in St. Louis when he stopped here for a hunting trip.  He liked the area so much he settled in Toledo instead.  He established a winery and later the first brewery in Toledo. Lenk met with almost instant success as a brewer. He was Toledo’s first brewer to make the style of beer known as lager, which was becoming increasingly popular.

We’ve talked a lot about Lager beer. Now is a good time to explain more about this style. Lager comes from the German word meaning stock or store. Lager is a bottom-fermented, cool-conditioned beer, which is matured in cold storage, as opposed to ale, which is top-fermented and brewed at a higher temperature.

By 1857, the City Brewery had $70,000 in sales. That same year Stephan left the brewery and purchased what later became the Buckeye Brewery on Bush Street.

Lenk’s lagers required large cellars for aging the beer. This is most likely what led him to move to a new and much larger facility in 1865. The brewery that once stood here was destroyed by fire shortly after closing. A bend in Swan Creek that ran alongside the brewery is likewise no longer present today.

Continue on Superior, turn left on Clayton, right on Oliver and right on Williams and pull over by the parking lot.  Turn left of St. Clair when departing.