The Saint Louis Brewery, makers of Schlafly Beer are excited to announce a limited distribution “test market” release of Lewis Osterweis & Sons Hard Ginger Beer. For details on this tasty new beverage, we decided to go straight to the source and pose some questions to co-founder of the Saint Louis Brewery and brainchild behind this alcoholic ginger beer, Dan Kopman.
Q: Lewis Osterweis was absolutely a real person. Who was Lewis Osterweis and what is your connection to him?
Born in Horb-am-Main, Bavaria, Germany, in 1836, Lewis Osterweis was one of a handful of immigrants to establish a successful New Haven, CT business in the mid-19th century. He learned about the various types of leaves used in the manufacture of cigars while serving as an apprentice to a cigar manufacturer in New York.
Later he became a tobacco buyer in Cuba, eventually establishing a small factory in Fort Madison, IA. But the South Windsor broadleaf fields were too much for Osterweis to resist, and in 1858 he settled in New Haven. In 1860 Osterweis established Osterweis & Co. Later that same year the company, located on Congress Avenue, became known by his full name of Lewis Osterweis & Sons.
The company’s manufacturing facilities consisted of two floors plus the basement. Starting off on a very small scale, the business soon expanded, extending throughout New York, New England and the West. Osterweis began to sell an enormous number of cigars in addition to large quantities of leaf tobacco. Osterweis’ brands of blended Connecticut and Cuban tobacco won immediate and broad acceptance, helping to make tobacco a major Connecticut product for many decades.
Indeed, the legacy long outlived the man, as the Lewis Osterweis & Sons cigar company continued to produce cigars until 1954, when the company was acquired by F.D. Grace & Sons. Lewis died in 1916.
Lewis’ son Gustave was born September 27, 1870. He joined the firm in 1892 and died in 1920. His son Rollin was my Grandfather, born Aug. 15, 1907, and died Feb. 28, 1982. Rollin worked briefly for the firm. Eventually he became a Yale professor of American history, coach of the Yale debate team and faculty adviser for the political union at Yale.
Q: Lewis Osterweis Hard Ginger Beer is made by The Saint Louis Brewery, makers of Schlafly Beer. Why not just call this Schlafly Hard Ginger Beer?
Growing up in St. Louis, visits to my Grandparents’ house in New Haven were memorable. My Grandfather’s office was filled with the aroma of cigars; there were old cigar boxes and photos from the family business. I remember Bass Ale in the fridge and Ginger Ale was the soft drink of choice. These experiences led to my career in the brewing industry in Edinburgh, London and St. Louis. I discovered Hard Ginger Beer in Scotland. The strong ginger flavor brought back memories from those visits to New Haven. When we decided to produce Hard Ginger Beer at The Saint Louis Brewery it made sense to create a new brand name for such a different beverage and in doing so to revive and honor a family name that is so important to me.
Q: The label and packaging artwork for Lewis Osterweis Hard Ginger Beer is pretty whimsical, pretty out there, especially compared to the Schlafly Beer branding. Assuming Lewis Osterweis didn’t really fly around in a steampunk dirigible with his trusty anthropomorphic ginger root pirate best friend, where did the inspiration for this art come from?
When we started on the design with Tom Townsend, Kris Wright and the team at Rogers Townsend, I told them the history of Lewis Osterweis and the cigar manufacturing business. I do not know anything about my Great Great Grandfather apart from the history above. From a young age I would look at the portrait of Lewis in my Grandparents’ and subsequently my Parents’ house, along with the few remaining cigar boxes and photos. I would let my imagination wander. The whimsical look of the packaging reflects my desire to both keep the memories of the past alive while encouraging customers to use their own imaginations.
Q: Tell us about the recipe for Lewis Osterweis Hard Ginger Beer? How did you and your team come up with this?
We tasted the Hard Ginger Beers from the UK and Ginger Beer sodas. We wanted to create a Ginger Beer with real ginger flavor and aroma. To do this, we brewed a beer using 2-row pale malt, German pils, and wheat malt and fermented it with our American Ale yeast strain. The beer was slightly hopped to balance out the sweetness. After fermentation we added in the special concoction we came up with to give the beer its ginger bite.
Q: How should Lewis Osterweis Hard Ginger Beer be served? Out of the bottle? Over ice? Mixed as a cocktail? From a hollowed out antler?
Straight from the bottle or in a tall glass over ice with a slice of lemon or lime. Some may add dark rum for an Osterweis Hard Ginger Beer Dark and Stormy or gin for an Osterweis Hard Ginger Beer Gin and Ginger.
Q: Where will Lewis Osterweis Hard Ginger Beer be available for purchase and does it only come in bottles?
Right now it is available only in bottles at bars, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores in the St. Louis and Washington DC Metro areas.
Q: Are there any plans for more beverages/flavors under the Lewis Osterweis brand?
There are ideas but no firm plans. We want to get feedback on the product from the test markets before adding new flavors of Hard Ginger Beer.
Q: Is there anything else you think the wonderful people of the world would be interested in knowing about Lewis Osterweis Hard Ginger Beer? Any closing thoughts?
Celebrate the greatness of Ginger and Family!