Johann Friedrich Lauer was born in Gleisweiler, Germany. In 1822 he emigrated to America with his parents and siblings. They settled at first in Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania, and lived for a time at the home of Johann's aunt.
Frederick's father George was a brewer and he began practicing his trade in Womelsdorf in 1824. It was in this place that young Frederick and his brother, George (II), learned the craft of beer making.
In 1826 the family moved 10 miles east to the town of Reading and the senior George re-established the family business on the corner of 3rd and Chestnut. This brewery was a success and the boys proved to be dedicated workers. By Frederick's 16th birthday his father had promoted him to accountant and foreman of the brewery. By age 25, Frederick was managing the firm, his father having retired. The brothers ran the brewery as a partnership for about a year until 1836 when older brother George started his own brewery in the coal country town of Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
Frederick Lauer was one of the first Lager Beer brewers in America, and in doing so he became a very wealthy man. He was generous with his money and his time. He organized efforts for the Union during the Civil War. He was a vocal abolitionist. He was a generous benefactor, and he was an advocate for brewers and the brewing industry.
He was also a loyal brother. George's brewery in Pottsville was struggling. By 1836 Pottsville already had an well-established and popular brewery in the David G. Yuengling firm, and competition with them proved to be very costly.
By the 1870s George's brewery racked up by some accounts nearly $100,000 in debt, a debt that was covered by his younger brother's generosity, reputation, and credit. When George died in 1876 the creditors came calling. But cash was tight in the aftermath of the Panic of 1873 and settling affairs put Frederick's own brewery in arrears. The Pottsville brewery was sold and the Frederick's Reading brewery was forced to reorganize.
At age 65 Lauer, a revered figure in eastern Pennsylvania, was reduced to a figurehead in his own brewery as a younger generation of businessmen took over. Johann Friedrich Lauer died on the 12th of September, 1883. he was 72 years of age. The town of Reading erected a statue in his honor in 1885 that still stands to this day. .
Learn more at the links below
Lauer Brewing Compnay Plant 1, Reading, Pennsylvania, USA
Frederick Lauer of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA