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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND-SANDUSKY BREWING CORP.

CLEVELAND-SANDUSKY BREWING CORP.

The CLEVELAND-SANDUSKY BREWING CORP., known for many years as the Cleveland & Sandusky Brewing Co., was formed in 1897 through a merger of 11 northern Ohio breweries. These included the Cleveland firms of Baehr, Barrett, Bohemian, Cleveland, Columbia, Gehring, Phoenix (later Baehr-Phoenix), Star, and Union breweries; and the recently consolidated Kuebeler-Stang breweries of Sandusky. The Baehr, Barrett, and Union breweries were closed shortly after the merger, while 3 others were added to the chain: Schlather (1902) and Fishel (1907) in Cleveland, and the Lorain brewery (1905) in Lorain, OH. The oldest of the Cleveland & Sandusky breweries, Gehring and Schlather, had been established in the 1850s by Chas. E. Gehring and Leonard Schlather. The first president of the Cleveland & Sandusky Brewing Co. was Frederick W. Gehring. The company's general offices were in the American Trust Bldg. on PUBLIC SQUARE. ERNST MUELLER, founder of the Cleveland Brewing Co., successfully served as president of Cleveland-Sandusky in its formative years (1898-1907). Mueller left in 1907 after a dispute arising from his opposition to the purchase of the Fishel Brewing Co., and then founded a new firm, the CLEVELAND HOME BREWING CO.

Most of the chain's smaller breweries were closed over the years, so that of the company's Cleveland plants only Gehring, Fishel, and Schlather remained by 1919. During Prohibition, the company manufactured carbonated beverages and near-beer at the Schlather bottling plant at 2600 Carroll Ave. After repeal, the only Cleveland brewery to reopen was Fishel, located at 2764 E. 55th St., which resumed production in July 1933, brewing Gold Bond and Crystal Rock beer and Old Timer's ale into the 1960s. In Sandusky, the Stang plant reopened but was closed in 1935 following a 2-month strike. Oscar J. Fishel headed the company during this turbulent decade but resigned in 1940 after a proposal to sell the brewery's assets to the Brewing Corp. of America (see CARLING BREWING CO.) was defeated by stockholders. Following 3 successive years of losses, Marvin Bilsky became president of the brewery in 1956. Bilsky's aggressive advertising and merchandising--in 1958 Cleveland-Sandusky became the first brewery in the nation to toast its malt, and in 1959 it introduced the throwaway bottle--were not enough to reverse the company's fortunes, however. The Cleveland-Sandusky Brewing Corp., as it was last known, closed in the mid-1960s.