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Sunday, May 26, 1816   Julius Winkelmeyer

Johann Julius Winkelmeyer was born in Heilbronn, Germany.  His father Johann Winkelmeyer was a nail maker, and in the custom of the era young Julius was trained in his fathers profession.  In around 1838 Julius's brother Louis (Ludwig), left Germany for America, settling in St. Louis, Missouri, a town that less than 35 years earlier had been the launching point for the Louis & Clark Expedition.  Julius followed his brother to the frontier town in 1840, landing a job as a store clerk.

Julius soon met a fellow German emigre named Frederick Stifel.  Stifel was a trained brewer and in 1843 the two decided to form a brewery, with Stifel making the beer and Winkelmeyer managing the business side.  They named the brewery the Union, in homage of perhaps their partnership, or perhaps the country that took them in.  The former was further cemented when on January 24th, 1847 Julius wedded Stifel's sister Christina in a marriage that would produce seven children. 

The Union Brewery flourished, thanks in part to the large migration of Germans to the area after the failed German revolution of 1848.  Winkelmeyer and Stifel expanded their facilities several times during the decade, so much so that in 1850 it was proclaimed (falsely) in a local newspaper to be the largest brewery in the United States.  But success was not enjoyed long for brewmaster Stifel.  In 1849 a cholera epidemic ravaged St. Louis, and both Frederick and his wife Louise were taken to the great beyond.

A few years after Stifel's death Winkelmeyer brought in George Schiffer as partner.  Their management of the Union was so efficient that despite a fire and a destructive storm they we able to produce 16,000 barrels in 1860, more than any other brewery in St. Louis.

Julius Winkelmeyer died a wealthy man on January 23rd, 1867.  He was just 50 years old.  As a testament to his reputation the brewery he founded carried his name for the next 23 years.  The Winkelmeyer brewery was eventually absorbed into the St. Louis Brewing Association syndicate and closed in 1916.

This biography borrows heavily from the book St. Louis Brews by Henry Herbst, Don Roussin, and Kevin Kious. For a much more detailed look at the lives of Winkelmeyer, Stifel and the Union Brewery look there.

Learn more at the links below

Associated Breweries

Julius Winkelmeyer, Union Brewery of Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

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