Enamel pitcher used in brewery


This small, enamel-lined metal pitcher has no markings but shows signs of wear and age. It is part of a large collection of brewing material donated to the museum in 1967 by former brewmaster Walter Voigt, of Ruxton, Maryland, near Baltimore. Voigt attached a paper tag indicating that this “measure” was used by brewer Christian Heurich, Sr. If so, it would be a remarkable connection to the brewer who founded and ran the largest and most successful brewery in Washington, D.C., from the 1870s to his death in 1945.

Christian Heurich, Sr., was born in Germany in 1842. As a young man, he learned to make lager beer from master brewers in Bavaria and Vienna, Austria. In 1866, Heurich left Germany to join his sister in Baltimore, where a thriving community of German immigrants had already established breweries and other businesses. Three years later, he and Paul Ritter, a Baltimore brewer, decided to open a brewery in Washington, D.C. In 1872, they rented a building in downtown Washington and while Ritter handled the books and advertising, Heurich brewed the barley-based lager he had learned to make in Europe. When the partnership fell apart, Heurich bought Ritter’s share and began running the business on his own, making a light lager called “Senate” and a darker brew called “Maerzen” (a style of beer named for the month of March, when it is traditionally brewed).

Twice a widower, Heurich had four children with his third wife, including a son, Christian Heurich, Jr., born in 1901. Heurich and his family were among the leading citizens of Washington, D.C., and as he built and opened a new brewery and bottling plant in 1895, he also built a large home near DuPont Circle. Heurich’s real estate investments helped alleviate the financial impact of Prohibition (which lasted from 1920 to 1933), but he also turned to selling ice, which helped keep his brewery workers employed during the dry years. After Repeal, Heurich reopened his brewery, producing Senate Beer as his flagship brand, and Senate Ale, Senate Bock, Heurich Lager, and Maerzen Beer as well. Other local brewers never recovered from Prohibition and, by 1939, Heurich was the only brewer left in Washington, D.C.

At Heurich’s death in 1945, his son took over the brewery. Although he had been involved in helping his father rebuild after the repeal of Prohibition, Christian, Jr., was a businessman, not a brewer. He introduced an Old Georgetown brand, and reintroduced a lager made from his father’s original recipe. Still, in the 1950s, as competition from large, national corporations increased, small, local breweries were closing across the country. In 1956, the Christian Heurich Brewing Company brewed its last beer.

The collection of brewing objects donated by Walter Voigt consists of objects and archival materials reflecting the history of brewing in the mid-Atlantic region between 1870 and the beginnings of consolidation and large-scale, industrial production in the 1960s. His correspondence reveals an interest in preserving the history of brewing in America before brewmasters were “replaced by chemical engineers and highly trained chemists in modern laboratories.” Voigt’s papers are housed in the museum’s Archives Center, Collection #ACNMAH 1195, “Walter H. Voigt Brewing Industry Collection, 1935-1967.”

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Work and Industry: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Food


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Walter Voigt

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: AG.MHI-M-9518Accession Number: 276730Catalog Number: MHI-M-9518

Object Name: Measure

Measurements: overall: 4 in x 3 in x 3 1/2 in; 10.16 cm x 7.62 cm x 8.89 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a6-c2b1-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_867072

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