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September 17, 2013 at 8:26 PM

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Postcards from the past: Rainier Brewing Co., early 1900s


THE SEATTLE TIMES ARCHIVE

In this photo taken in the early 1900s, women played a key role on the production line of the fast-growing brewing company. In 1878, when there were hundreds of small, independent breweries nationwide, a German immigrant Brewmaster, Andrew Hemrich, founded a small brewery south of Seattle along what is now Airport Way South. Under the banner of Seattle Brewing and Malting Co., he brewed three brands, with Rainier Beer carrying the premium label. In 1878, he produced approximately 200 barrels of Rainier. At that time, breweries depended chiefly upon local consumption of their product for survival. Each city and town proudly toasted its local beer -- Club, Rocky Mountain, Edel-Brau, Gold Seal, Olympic Club, Tacoma Pale, Washington Viking and many others. Prohibition cut short the growth of the brewing industry in 1916, two years before the rest of the country, and by that time the young company had become the largest industrial enterprise in the state and the sixth largest brewery in the world. When Seattle Brewing and Malting shut down in 1916, right to use the coveted Rainier brand name was sold to a California brewery. But Fritz and Emil Sick, a father and son with extensive brewing interests in Canada, purchased Hemrich's operation and rebuilt it into one of the most modern post-Prohibition firms in the country. Since the Rainier brand was being produced in San Francisco by virtue of the 1916 sale of rights, the Sicks immediately negotiated for its return here in the 1930s soon after repeal, and they were successful. Emil Sick celebrated the return by purchasing the Seattle Indians of the Pacific Coast League and renaming them the Rainiers. In the process, he built them a new home, Sicks' Seattle Stadium, which was long regarded as one of the premier minor-league baseball parks in the country.



Postcards from the past is an occasional feature, highlighting images from The Seattle Times historical archive.

To read more postcards from the past or to purchase prints, visit the gallery


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