#INNOVATIVE
Goetz Brewery

March 9, 2018

Written by Jomel Nichols | Photography by Emily Baumann

CHARACTER TRAIT: Innovative

DEFINITION: Featuring new methods; advanced and original.

German immigrant Michael Karl Goetz arrived in New York in 1854. Working in his cousin’s grocery store in Buffalo, he saved enough to trek west, seeking fortune in the Gold Rush of California. En route, he stopped in St. Joseph and stayed, recognizing opportunity in the bustling outpost on the Missouri River. He started M.K. Goetz Brewery in 1859 from a wood frame building near Black Snake Creek, which provided ample water supply. Goetz firmly believed in modern brewing techniques, but knew he could not increase production without refrigeration. Thus Goetz Brewery was the first brewery in the west to install an ice plant.

Innovation continued when the second generation of Goetz sons took over the business. While competitors shuttered their plants during prohibition, the Goetz brothers developed Country Club Special, a beverage that looked and tasted like beer without the alcohol. Thanks to the fizzy beverage, Goetz was one of just 25 breweries in the United States to persist through prohibition. That doesn’t mean that folks didn’t miss their beer, however. On April 7, 1933, a crowd of 5,000 cheered as trucks of real beer pulled out of the brewery.

Sadly, Goetz closed its doors in 1976, ending an era and a cornerstone of St. Joseph industry. However, the generosity and legacy of the Goetz family remains in the form of the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion, which the Goetz family purchased to house the city museum, and the Pony Express Stables renovation was made possible through the Goetz Foundation.

The storied tradition of brewing lives on in St. Joseph with the recent founding of River Bluff Brewing, Liberty Cap Brewing, The Angry Swede Brewing Company, and home brew supplier DP Brewing Company. Interestingly enough KC Cider Co is located in a former Goetz property in downtown St. Joseph.

Goetz Cooperage Department 1934 (oil on canvas) by Matt Robertson Art

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