Hi, thank you for checking out our new blog, Folsom Unveiled. My name is Kaitlyn Scott and I’m Folsom Historical Society’s historian. Each week I will be highlighting a different topic related to Folsom’s history that not everyone knows about by diving deeper into a place, event, person or piece in our collection.
The 4th of July just passed which for me is a sign that summer has officially started (sorry, June) and honestly nothing says summer to me more than enjoying a cold beer while out camping with friends or at the pool. For safety reasons though, this summer I’ll just enjoy mine on my patio with my dog.
If you’ve ever wondered what kind of beer past Folsom residents used to drink when Sutter street was still a dirt road, you’re in luck! This week I am going to explore Folsom’s past beer industry. While small and brief, Folsom dabbled in beer making very early on in its history and some Sacramento breweries found local success as well.
Folsom had two breweries during the 1800s although they did not coexist. The first, Folsom Lager Brewery (may have been later called Fountain Brewery), opened in 1857 and was run by Christian Hailer, a German immigrant, and George Reeber. Reeber left the business venture early on and the brewery was later run solely by Hailer. The brewery also doubled as living quarters for Hailer, his wife Maria Margaretha and the first 3 out of their 6 children, Emma, Henry and Wilhelmina. It was located on Leidesdorff Street, opposite the railroad depot. As the name suggests, they brewed lager and were able to take orders for local saloons. Unfortunately, the brewery burned down along with many other wood structures at the railroad depot on June 15th, 1867 with damages amounting in $3,500 dollars which is over $60,000 dollars today. Hailer was unfortunately only insured for $1,500. The family soon left Folsom and moved to San Francisco where Hailer worked for the Philadelphia Brewery.
The second was Peter Yager’s Folsom Brewery also known as Michigan Bar Brewery and later may have also been known as Pilsner-Salvator Lager Beer Depot, which was located on Sutter street. Yager, along with his wife Elizabeth and children, were already well established in Folsom by the time he started his brewery and he was already an experienced brewer. He had started brewing beer in Ohio in the early 1850s before making his way to Folsom and opening a store, which coincidentally sold beer from Philadelphia Brewery and specialized in the sale of oysters. His brewery in Folsom was built on the foundation of a business that had burned down in an 1870 fire. Yager’s brewery was made of brick, with one story in the front and three stories in the back. The brewing room itself was equipped with a kettle, and cooler and was in the building’s basement. The brewery was able to produce 10 barrels a day with annual sales equaling four hundred and fifty barrels. After a fire in 1886, Yager sold the business to Louis LeGarde and after LeGarde’s death, the building stood vacant for several years before becoming a saloon.
Folsom almost had a third brewery in the early 1900s. Between 1903 and 1914, Buffalo Brewing Company owned the Wells Fargo Assay office where our museum is located now. Buffalo Brewing Company ran out of Sacramento and was widely distributed. According to an interview with Aneita Guernsey, a Folsom resident, Buffalo Brewing used this location to distribute and store their beer with plans on manufacturing it here as well. They had a wooden barn- like structure in the back that housed all the necessary machinery. Buffalo Brewing Company later leased the building to E. A Shumway who ran it as an ice and soda works, Shumway purchased the building in 1914. When Guernsey and her husband purchased the Assay office in later years, they found many opened and unopened bottles of Buffalo beer and a ledger, which is now in our archive.