Why is the Archives of Michigan displaying old beer labels? These labels can found within official state records. The Archives received them from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.
Michigan Public Act 8 of 1933 established the Commission. National Prohibition had been repealed that year, and states debated about alcohol regulation. Two basic systems emerged: The control – or monopoly – system and the licensing – or open state – system. Michigan became one of seventeen states to adopt the former. Under the control system, the State holds a monopoly on liquor sales. In Michigan, the Liquor Control Commission acts as sole wholesaler for all distilled spirits (Beer and wine are exempted from this process and sold through the private sector.). For more information, click Michigan Liquor Control Commission to visit the Commission’s web site.
The Michigan Liquor Control Commission also oversees licensing for alcohol sellers, manufacturers and distributors in Michigan. The labels on this page were submitted to the Commission as part of a licensing requirement. Today, they provide a unique look into the past of Michigan brewing.
Koppitz-Melcher, Inc. produced Koppitz Victory Beer during World War II. Konrad Koppitz and Arthur Melchers formed the Koppitz-Melcher Brewing Company in Detroit in 1890. Prohibition put them out of business. In 1935, Konrad’s son, Ben Koppitz, and his business partner, Fred Goettman, revived the brand. Ben Koppitz resigned as President in 1942, and Livingston Porter Hicks replaced him. By then, America was fighting World War II, and the company introduced its Victory Beer the following year. Each bottle featured one of one hundred labels, with labels depicting planes, ships, jeeps and other types of military ordnance. After the war, Koppitz-Melcher’s overall sales began to fall. The Goebel Brewing Company purchased the brewery in 1947 and opened it as a Goebel plant the following year. Goebel was itself purchased by Stroh’s in 1964, and Stroh’s razed the plant.
The Bosch Brewing Company (label at left) began business in Lake Linden, Michigan in 1874. In 1899, it obtained a second facility just west of Houghton. Bosch ceased beer production during Prohibition. It re-opened its Houghton brewery when Prohibition ended in 1933. That brewery finally closed shop in 1973. The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin purchased the brand name and continued to brew Bosch for a few more years. This venture proved unprofitable for Leinenkugel, however, and production ceased – ending over one hundred years of tradition. For more on Bosch’s history, click From the Archives: The Bosch Brewing Company to read an article by Michigan Technological University Archivist Erik Nordberg.
Sebewaing Beer came to be closely associated with the town of Sebewaing, Michigan, where it was brewed. Sebewaing is located in Huron County on the Saginaw Bay. The E.O. Braendle Brewery opened there in 1880. Like Bosch, it closed during Prohibition. The U.S. was still under Prohibition when the facility reopened in 1927 to produce malt extract. At that time, it adopted the new name of the Sebewaing Products Company. After Prohibition ended, the Company made Sebewaing Beer. The brand was discontinued in 1965. For more information, click Sebewaing Beer to access a Michigan Beer Guide article.