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PEARL BREWING COMPANY

PEARL BREWING COMPANY. The Pearl Brewing Company in San Antonio started in 1881 as the J. B. Behloradsky Brewery (1881–83). The Behloradsky Brewery was purchased in 1883 by a group of San Antonio business leaders that formed the San Antonio Brewing Association. The brewery was renamed the San Antonio Brewing Company (1883–88) and began producing Pearl Beer in 1886. In 1888 the name was changed to the San Antonio Brewing Association (1888–1918) and listed its address as 312 James Street and Avenue A. The Pearl name came from a German brewmaster that had thought that the bubbles in a freshly poured glass of beer resembled pearls. He called them "Perlen." The San Antonio Brewing Association purchased the formula and name from the Kaiser-Beck Brewery in Bremen, Germany. Otto Koehler, manager of the Lone Star Brewery in San Antonio, became the president and manager of the San Antonio Brewing Association. In 1902 the officers were Otto Koehler, president; Otto Wahrmund, vice president; and J. J. Stevens, secretary. Koehler remained president until his death in 1914. His wife, Emma, succeeded him as the chief executive. Under Koehler's direction the original pioneer brewery was replaced by a larger modern establishment. Production was gradually increased to 6,000 barrels per year. In 1889 five 135-barrel tanks were installed by the Pfaudler Company, and by 1916 Pearl was the largest brewery in Texas with a capacity of 110,000 barrels per year. The San Antonio Brewing Association was the only brewery in San Antonio to survive prohibition, due in large part to the hard work and determination of Emma Koehler. Mrs. Koehler kept it going during those lean years by producing near beer, bottling soft drinks, entering the commercial ice and creamery businesses, and operating an advertising sign company. Within fifteen minutes after prohibition ended in Texas on September 15, 1933, 100 trucks and twenty-five boxcars loaded with Pearl beer rolled out of the brewery grounds. In 1952 the San Antonio Brewing Association changed its corporate name to the Pearl Brewing Company in an effort to more closely associate itself with its product. Pearl acquired the Goetz Brewing Company of St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1961 and merged with the Southdown Corporation of Houston in 1970. The acquisitions allowed Pearl to move into national markets. Pearl then expanded its product line by buying the formula and label to Jax beer, a popular New Orleans product. In 1981 their 1.8 million barrels of beer were distributed in forty-five states. They employed 535 people at their San Antonio facility. As of 1995 their employee force stood at 350, and they produced 1.1 million barrels of beer. In 1995 S&P Company of Mill Valley, California, owned Pearl. In 1998 Pearl purchased the Stroh Brewing Company, which had recently acquired the Lone Star brand. The Pearl brewery closed in June 2001, however, and Miller Brewing Company in Fort Worth took over the production of Pearl and Lone Star brand beers. See also BREWING INDUSTRY.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Stanley Baron, Brewed in America: A History of Beer and Ale in the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, 1962). Mike Hennech, Encyclopedia of Texas Breweries: Pre-Prohibition (1836–1918) (Irving, Texas: Ale Publishing, 1990). Joseph Pluta, "Regional Change in the United States Brewing Industry," Bureau of Business Research, University of Texas at Austin, 1983).

Michael C. Hennech

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Michael C. Hennech, "PEARL BREWING COMPANY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/dipgx), accessed July 25, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.