1889 Beer and Copper

January 7

A cold Monday at the Shop. Plenty of work. Stills being manufactured and kettles being made. Joe has decided that he will try to get into the brewery market. Beer vats or vessels are made of copper. Usually, these are purchased or built on site by the brewery. As was the same with distillers, they have their own personnel on hand for these things. It might be a hard sell. But just as he did with the distillers, Joe must convince the brewers he can do a good job for them. Joe sets his mind to learning all he can about beer brewing. He goes to the library and speaks to folks he knows. He is confident he can make some inroads into the brewing industry.

March 22

The Shop’s crew works hard on this Friday. Another still install is underway. This one for Sherwood Distilling, a long time customer. Martin oversees this project while the rest of the crew work on assorted small parts for some patent medicine stills. Joe has decided to build his own beer vat. He has a still in the Shop. A beer vessel seems like the next step. He can make it with the same exacting standards as his still. He can use it as a display for potential customers as he did with his first still. The Kavanaghs have received a letter from Young Joe. He’s on a spring tour of the Midwest with his musical troupe. The big news is that in August, Young Joe will head to Europe. The troupe has been booked for a series of shows and performances across the ocean. The family is excited and happy for Young Joe. This could be a big break. At the very least, it will be an adventure for the singer.

May 7

Johns Hopkins Hospital is dedicated in Baltimore.

May 8

Joe has completed his “display” beer vat. He is happy with the result. Martin is in North Carolina taking some measurements for a possible still job. The younger gents are split between a variety of jobs. Some boiler work for Codd, some soda water equipment and the usual cookers that they make. He knows he is very fortunate to have a good hard-working team of men. He watches them work. He has trained most of them himself. A good group of coppersmiths and helpers indeed.

May 14

Joe visits J. F. Wiessner & Sons Brewing in East Baltimore. They have been brewing beer since 1863 though their building was just rebuilt and rehabbed a little over a year ago. Joe introduces himself to John Wiessner. He offers his services. Joe tells him of his own vat at the Shop. Encourages him to visit and take a look at their quality. Fortunately, Mr. Wiessner knows who Joe is. He has a high reputation as a smith especially in the distilling industry. They have a long discussion about the brewery’s needs and Joe’s capabilities. Mr. Wiessner assures Joe he will give the offer some thought. Joe leaves with some confidence that this meeting will likely be his “foot-in-the-door” in the beer business.

June 12

The Shop is visited by John Wiessner. He and Joe speak as they examine Joe’s display beer vessel. Mr. Wiessner orders two. Joe shakes his hand and thanks him. The Shop’s foray into the beer brewing business begins. The workers are making a pump chamber for a steamship and a handful of smaller jobs. Everyone is busy as Joe likes it. He’s very happy to receive the beer vessel order. The distilling work is great and his bread and butter. However, there are still a limited number of distilleries. That’s why he’s increased his area of customers. He still needed local work. The breweries could very well be the answer to this. Joe is so anxious to get started. He gets to work immediately.

August 2

A letter from Young Joe confirms he is off to Europe. He’ll sing, dance and play the piano. His troupe will be doing a long tour. Several months at least depending on their reception. He promises to visit Baltimore upon his return to America. He will have stories to tell and new songs to sing.

September 16

Joe adds a second brewery to his list of customers. Brehm’s Brewery has ordered two beer vats and some associated valves and fittings. The Shop’s crew is also building a 40 gallon still for shipment to Virginia along with its standard fare of kettles and pots. Bending and shaping copper is still at the core of what they do. Not so different than when Joe stated long ago.

November 30

A long busy week comes to an end. Pump chambers, cooking vessels and some ornate brass work is the order of the day. A brief pause in the nearly constant alcohol production industry work that fills the Shop. Joe knows this respite will be short. He has maintenance and service contracts with several local distilleries. Both Wiessner and Brehm’s Brewing have promised more work, as well. Joe’s plan for brewery work has succeeded. He knows it can get bigger. He knows the more variety of work he can do the better it is for the Shop. He knows that more success is within his grasp.





Benjamin Harrison is the President of the United States. The Pemberton Medicine Company is incorporated in Atlanta. This company will become the Coca-Cola Co. The Wall Street Journal’s first issue is published. The first jukebox is put into operation in San Francisco’s Palais Royale Saloon.

With the admission of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington, there are now 42 states in the Union.

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