Tracing its origins back to 1878, the Neuweiler Brewery complex was completed in 1913. Owned and operated by the Neuweiler family, with patriarch Louis at its head, the brewery annually produced over 300,000 barrels of beer and ale at its peak. It survived the Prohibition era by converting its production facilities from beer to soda and expanded its operations shortly after World War II. However, it could not compete with the growing number of national breweries and produced its last beer in 1968. Sections of its multi-building complex were used by other companies, but most of it remained largely abandoned for decades. As of writing, the old brewery has been purchased and talks of converting it to a multi-use facility are in progress. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
What was to
become the Neuweiler Brewery began as the Germania Brewery which was founded in
1878 by Benedict Nuding at the rear of his hotel along 7th Street. In 1891, Louis Neuweiler partnered with Nuding
and the name was changed to Nuding-Neuweiler Brewing. This arrangement lasted until Neuweiler
bought out Nuding in 1901 and brought his two sons, Louis Jr and Charles, into
the business. By 1910, the Neuweiler
family decided they needed a new, self-contained brewing facility to maximize
production and meet the growing demand.
To that end, they purchased a 4.5-acre plot at the corner of Front and Gordon
Streets and construction began in 1911.
Neuweilers employed the Philadelphia architectural firm of Peukert and Wunder
and a granite and brick office building topped by a rooftop copper cupola was
the first building completed. A brew
house, stock house, pump house, laboratory building, bottling house, boiler
room, fermenting cellar and tall smokestack soon followed. It generated its own electricity, steam heat
and pumped water from an underground lake 900 feet below the surface. It used that pure water to brew various beers
and ales to include light lager, cream ale, bock, and stout among others.
complex and production levels expanded over the years and it survived
Prohibition by converting production over to soda until 1933. It also was one of the early breweries in the
country to begin using cans in 1935. The
brewery remained profitable into the 1950s.
However, as the 1960s dawned, Neuweiler began to lose market share to
the growing national breweries such as Anheuser-Busch, Pabst, and Schlitz. Neuweiler limped along until it was forced to
seek debt relief when it filed for bankruptcy in 1967. Unfortunately, bankruptcy was unable to save
the brewery and it ceased production on May 31, 1968.
Since its closure,
the complex has remained largely abandoned with Mack Trucks using one of the
buildings for storage in the 1980s and a herbicide, pesticide and detergent
company using a section of it during the 1990s.
Recently, the complex was purchased by Brewers Hill Development Group, a
branch of Ruckus Marketing, for $1.7 million in 2014 after it had come under
the perview of Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone. The initial plans to spend $30 million to
create mixed-use retail and commercial buildings, a brew pub and office space
have since been scaled back. In 2017,
renovation work was done on the old bottling house with hopes to use it for
office or light industrial use. As of
late 2018, the future of what remains of the old Neuweiler Brewery remains very
much in doubt.