The Wiedemann Leadership Story
Since 1870 The Geo. Wiedemann Brewing Company has built a solid reputation under great dynamic presidents who have ever maintained the founder’s driving spirit for progress. Words written about the second executive characterize the entire Wiedemann leadership story: “It is, and always has been, the policy of the president to keep pace with the times, and there is no new invention which will aid in bettering their product, which is not immediately taken advantage of regardless of expense.
George Wiedemann Joins Jefferson St. Brewery
Today, the Wiedemann leadership continues the founder’s concern for steadfast growth in plant size and efficiency. Pictorially, there is great contrast from the meager beginnings in the founder’s Jefferson Street Brewery compared to the extensive productive capacity of the present Newport facilities. In 1870, when George Wiedemann became a partner in the operation of the Jefferson Street Brewery with John Butcher, it was producing fifteen barrels of beer per day. His experience in Saxony before he came to America in 1853 at the age of 19 combined with responsible positions in breweries in Williamsburg, New York, Louisville, and Cincinnati enabled him to quickly expand the small brewery into a notable firm in two decades. In 1878 George Wiedemann became sole owner of the plant and in 1882 he bought the nearby Constans Brewery on Monmouth Street—operating both units under his name. Increased business soon necessitated the erection in 1885 of a large malt house with a capacity of 200,000 bushels and a grain elevator storing 160,000 bushels. Next the new Brew House was built in 1888, and in 1893 a Bottling House completed the red brick plant with many gables. Remarkably large for its day, the new Geo. Wiedemann Brewing Company had a capacity of over 100,000 barrels per year. Shortly after the death of the founder in 1890, a Cincinnati area historian richly complimented the company’s reputation in these words: “The quality of the brew, and the promptness with which the increasing demands are met, without the slightest diminution in the quality of the goods, compelled the respect of their competitors, and the name of Wiedemann was recognized as a synonym of fair dealing, promptness, and the finest and purest products of the West.”
1890's: Charles Wiedemann Jr. Takes Over
In the Gay Nineties, the second generation capably took over the direction of the brewery. The eldest son, Charles, became the second president, and George Wiedemann, Jr., the vice president and superintendent. Contemporary Cincinnatians wrote about the merits of their teamwork, saying in 1894: “The high standing of the company in the financial world is due in the main to the business capacity of Charles Wiedemann; the superior and incontestable qualities of the product of the brewery is due to the skill of George Wiedemann, Jr., who took a course in the famous Munich Practical Brewing Academy in Bavaria.” A variety of brands carried the Wiedemann label which is almost unchanged from the original design. There were three draught beers: “The Standard,” “Bohemian” and the “Muenchener Export.” By 1909 Wiedemann’s beer was sold throughout the United States and as far away as the Philippines and Cuba. As superintendent, George Wiedemann, Jr., made many valuable contributions to the company before his death in 1901. He installed the skylight windows in the roof of the new bottle shop long before industry adopted such a modern practice. He devised the permanent Wiedemann label with the popular W and eagle symbol. As president, Charles Wiedemann directed the business affairs of the corporation through World War I until Prohibition brought the venture to a standstill. In thirty years’ administration, he had made Wiedemann’s a landmark in Cincinnati and a familiar brand mark for Fine Beer across the nation.
Tracy Balcom Jr., a Third Generation
With the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment in 1933, The Geo. Wiedemann Brewing Company was reopened and on December 16 rolled out the first half-barrel of beer. The mantle of leadership now fell upon President H. Tracy Balcom Jr., a grandson of the company founder. From the depression and through World War II he has guided the growth of the famous firm, maintaining the quality of the “Registered” brew while the expansion of the sales was increased in the natural Midwest market. Today the leadership story of Wiedemann’s continues in the fine tradition of progress common to every generation of its owners and operators.
from the November-December 1957 issue of the Wiedemann B-Line, a publication of the Wiedemann Brewing Company