Maumee Brewing Company

32-40 South Superior Street
Maumee Brewing Company

This location had a turbulent history, housing eight different breweries during its forty-year history.

The Maumee Brewing Company was the last Toledo brewery to appear in the 19th century. The brewery was built here, next to the Hoppe & Strub Bottling Company, which had operated since 1889 bottling beer for the Pabst Brewery of Milwaukee. Henry Hoppe served as its first President. The bottling building still stands today, looking much as it did over 100 years ago, now occupied by Spaghetti Warehouse. 

Like many other Toledo breweries at the turn of the century, the Maumee Brewing Company was an impressive building. Standing at five stories, it towered above the rest of the warehouse district, made even more prominent by its 125-foot smokestack. The brew house contained ice machinery on the first floor with a brew kettle above. At the rear of the plant was a four-story stock house with a racking room for placing beer in barrels.

The initial annual output was about 25 to 30,000 barrels, but the plant had a capacity of 100 barrels per day, with double that amount being possible if there was sufficient demand. Unfortunately, there was not. The company went bankrupt within a year. 

A large part of this failure had to do with the fact that the Maumee Brewing Company was built to brew exclusively ale (specifically English-style ales, porters and stouts). New ownership converted the brewery to take advantage of the public’s taste and make lager. Annual capacity was increased to 50,000 barrels. However, this outfit was also short-lived, going bankrupt by 1901. Over the next decade, the brewery changed hands and names from the Toledo Brewing and Malting Company to the Gambrinus Brewing and Bottling Company to the Bavarian Brewing Company.

In 1911, the brewery was renamed as the City Brewery and was headed by Charles Woolner. Woolner led the organization into prohibition by producing non-alcoholic beverages. Under the new name, the Woolner Brewing Company, they also legally produced medicinal beer, which was licensed by the government and used by physicians but was notoriously used as a legal loophole during this period. Woolner was successful enough to merge the breweries assets with the one-time giant but now defunct Huebner-Toledo Breweries Company in 1922.

As Prohibition was nearing its end in 1932, Woolner died unexpectedly (rumors persist that his death was linked to organized crime).  Shortly thereafter, the plant was purchased by the Lubeck Brewing Company.

Whether or not Woolner’s death was suspicious, the Lubeck Co had clear gangster ties. Its Vice president was Edward Stanton, a mob lawyer, and a major investor was Alfred “Big Al” Polizzi, boss of the Cleveland crime family. The brewery even sent some of its beer to the Manhattan Brewing Company in Chicago (known as “Al Capone’s brewery”). The brewery closed in 1938, but the Lubeck brand continued to be produced at Chicago’s Manhattan Brewery into the mid-1960s.

The 40-year old building was razed shortly after being closed with only the Hoppe & Strub bottling plant remaining today.

Head down Superior, pull over between Lafayette and Swan Creek.

Copyright © 2020 Tedd Long