Thursday, September 08, 2016

Akron's "Other" Brewer: The George Renner Brewing Company

Everyone in Akron has heard of Burkhardt’s Brewery; located on Grant Street in Wolf Ledges, it is currently home to two current Akron breweries, Thirsty Dog and Aqueduct, who share space at the cavernous old brick building.

Up until recently, the former Akron Brewing Company, too, was highly visible—its large brick edifice overlooking the westbound lanes of I-77 where it crossed Broadway. Sadly, the building has recently been demolished due to reconstruction of the exit ramps there, near South Main St.

For the most part, only area brewers, long-time residents and brewerania collectors are familiar with Akron’s other major brewer, the George Renner Brewing Company, whose plant and ice house was located on North Forge St., just west of North Arlington, near Adams St. The facility is still there, spanning both sides of North Forge; most impressive is the ornate brick 1880’s-era boiler and bottling house on the north side of the street.

Renner's old brewery buildings still stand on North Forge St.
Born in Germany in 1835, George Renner was among a number of German immigrants who settled in the area during the 1800’s. He came with his parents to Cincinnati in 1849, where he learned the brewing business, then moved to Wooster in 1882, where he opened his first brewery. He stayed there for about four years, opened a brewery in Mansfield in 1886, and finally settled in Akron in 1888.

Old Cockney Ale. Seems highly sessionable, with only 3.2% " ABV. You can drink a LOT.
In Akron, he purchased an old brewery on N. Forge and began making substantial improvements and continued to enlarge the facilities. Soon, Renner’s operation became one of the largest breweries in Ohio, selling over 30,000 barrels annually with a capacity of over 50,000 by 1910.

Through the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Renner produced a wide range of popular beers, like the popular Grossvater (Grandfather), Old German, Lucky Shoe, Old Cockney Ale, Half and Half and Souvenir Bock. The Prohibition era was a tough time for all of Akron’s breweries. When it finally ended at 12:01 A.M., on April 7, 1933, a crowd of 2,000 people waited in line outside Renner's brewery in a cold rain to purchase some of the 5,000 cases of their Grossvater  brand beer that were available at $3.25 per case. By noon the next  day, 10,000 cases had been sold at the brewery and through  shipments all over northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

Today, Brewerania collectors seek out old bottles, cans, labels and crates featuring this venerable old brewery’s name and products. Renner’s son, George Jr. was a successful brewer in his own right, moving to Youngstown and opening a very successful brewery there, marketing many of the same brands as the Akron plant.


Post a Comment