Hensler's Brewery

by Charles McGrath

It seemed like my father knew everyone. And if he didn't know them they knew him. Being his only son it seemed he took me everywhere. Maybe I was his penance for getting out of the house. We spent a great deal of time at Hensler's Brewery. Jim and Joe were the owners. It seems that there was a third brother maybe Bob, but I'm not sure. They were very friendly and jovial.

They had this big steam engine on the ground level. It was a piece of equipment from the turn of the century. It was always chugging away.

I believe the front of the building was on the corner of Hensler Street and Wilson Avenue? Hamburg Place was renamed Wilson Avenue after President Wilson. This was done during W.W. I by an anti German movement. They made a very good beer. The one that I remember was Black Label. It was advertised as a "Whale of a Beer ". As a marketing stunt they made a truck into a whale to advertise that beer. Someone drove the whale to our house in Vailsburg so the kids could see it.

When we visited the brewery we would spend a lot of time on the second floor. It was the dinning hall for the employees. It consisted of one large room with a bar and refrigerator. Connected to the large room was a smaller one. Both rooms were filled with tables and chairs. Beer was free and it flowed the same.

The Chief Engineer was Bob Betz. He was a very nice man and helped me obtain a Stationary Engineer's license as a teenager.

On the Hensler Street side of the building there was a large statue of a man with a raised stein of beer. As a young boy it always caught my eye. I don't know who he represented. Maybe some mythical beer god. Krueger Brewery on Belmont Avenue had a similar statue.

I never understood why they went out of business. I thought it was a great brewery. It was a great loss to the City. Someone said the sons weren't interested in joining the business. Others said that it was because they didn't spend enough on capital improvements. Maybe the latter was the reason.


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