This iconic brewery stands strong in Wilkes-Barre today in its original location, though it has changed a great deal over time.
Still, we cannot help but think of beer when we hear the name Stegmaier, and for good reason.
It all started with a man named Charles Stegmaier, who came to Philadelphia from Germany in the late 1840s. After years of working in the beer industry, he obtained a job with the Corporation Brewery in Philadelphia.
He soon moved to the Louis Bergdoll Brewery where he befriended John Reichard of Wilkes-Barre’s Reichard & Weaver Brewery. Soon, Charles moved to Wilkes-Barre, PA to partner with John, before he started working for the George Laurer brewery in Pottstown.
After a lot of moving around Charles moved back to Wilkes-Barre in 1857 to start his own bottling business. He partnered with his father-in-law and built a brewery on S. Canal St. They stored their beer bottles in an abandoned coal mine tunnel while they built Baer & Stegmaier Brewery on E. Market St. It opened in 1863 and lasted until 1873.
For a brief while, Charles worked in the hotel business until he bought the Joel Bowkley Brewery and repurchased the Baer & Stegmaier Brewery in 1880. Business then rose steadily and they incorporated as Stegmaier Brewing Co. in 1897. They migrated from delivering beer via goat-drawn wagon to a 60-fleet truck and rail delivery service.
Stegmaier Brewing Co. produced many award-winning beers in its time, winning eight gold medals between 1910 and 1913. They became one of the biggest independent breweries in North America post-prohibition.
In 1974, the brewery was purchased by Lion, Inc. of Wilkes-Barre, which shocked the Stegmaier workforce and Wilkes-Barre population. While 50 employees moved over to Lion, Inc., another 150 lost their jobs.
The City of Wilkes-Barre currently owns the Stegmaier Brewing Co. building. Today, Lion Brewery still brews Stegmaier beer, and you can enjoy a piece of Wilkes-Barre’s history today thanks to them.
Alternatively, you can celebrate the Stegmaier’ s contribution to the NEPA craft brew scene by enjoying SBC’s beer! They are the descendants of Charles Stegmaier and are proudly continuing their family legacy with their own line of award-winning beer.
Kayleigh is a content writer with a BA in technical writing/literature and an MA in creative writing. When she’s not at work writing, she’s at home writing, reading, or binge-watching television shows… for research, of course. A big do-it-yourselfer and crafter, Kayleigh loves testing out projects and gifting them to friends and family—all in preparation for when she owns her own home one day and decorates with her own personal creations. Her work has appeared on The Writing Cooperative and as an Honorable Mention in East Meets West American Writers Review.