Brewers Association Donates $25K for Restoration of Frederick Lauer Statue
In true craft spirit, brewers have banded together to support one of their forefathers, Frederick Lauer.
A monument was constructed in 1885 to commemorate Lauer, a 19th-century brewing pioneer and first president of the United States Brewers’ Association, in his hometown of Reading, Pa. In early 2015, his statue was vandalized, and four bronze plaques were removed from the base. Since then, the Brewers of Pennsylvania have worked to collect donations from local breweries to repair the statue. In recognition of the importance of this historical figure, the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, has donated $25,000 to the City of Reading to restore the Frederick Lauer statue.
Bob Pease, CEO and president of the Brewers Association, stated, “Frederick Lauer has a long and storied history in the brewing movement. The American brewing community is hallmarked by support from individual brewers in addressing policy issues and establishing an industry reputation for quality products and corporate responsibility. Serving as the first president of a national association of brewers, Lauer is eternally a member of our community. We felt it was our duty to make sure this statue, which pays homage to Lauer’s legacy, was returned to its rightful state.”
American Brewing Pioneer
Lauer was born in Germany in 1810. When he was 12 years old, his family immigrated to Pennsylvania, where he learned the brewing process from his father. By the age of 16, Lauer was foreman and accountant of their brewery.
Throughout his career, Lauer accomplished much for the brewing community. When the first federal tax on malted beverages was established during the Civil War, Lauer and other brewers supported the tax, believing that it would help prevent unsanitary practices and dishonest manufacturers. He toured European breweries to learn about their tax situations and worked to keep the tax at an affordable rate of $1 per barrel. He also provided many German immigrants with jobs in his brewery, giving them the opportunity to advance in their new community.
Beyond his brewing duties, Lauer was an engaged citizen. He was key in changing Reading’s status from that of a borough to a city in 1847. He also helped organize the Berks County Agricultural Society and the Board of Trade, helped finance the Reading and Columbia Railroad and was a member of several charity groups. He donated land for a community park and was one of the organizers of St. John’s German Lutheran Church.
The temperance movement was a constant threat to Lauer and his brewery, but he tirelessly fought against Prohibition. Despite his deep civic and political involvement, he once wrote, “I am a brewer first and a politician afterwards, or in other words, I do not intend to sacrifice my brewery and the accumulations of a long life for any empty honor of political predilections.” During a time when brewers faced multiple opponents, Lauer attempted to establish brewing as a respectable profession.
The Original Monument
After his death in 1883, the Lauer monument was proposed. Many were opposed to the idea, due to his life’s profession and anti-Prohibition stance, but, in the end, the remembrance of everything he had accomplished for the community of Reading conquered. In 1885, the statue of Frederick Lauer—the first statue in all of Reading—was erected in City Park.
Henri Stephens was hired by the U.S. Brewers Association to create the two-part monument, consisting of a life-size likeness of Lauer cast in bronze standing on a four-sided pedestal. This pedestal boasted four commemorative plaques, and it is these plaques that were stolen from the monument in 2015.
The restoration of the Frederick Lauer monument is slated for completion by the end of April 2016, prior to the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America® that will take place in Philadelphia on May 3-6.
One of the four original plaques read, “Let his example tell the brewers of this country to maintain good fellowship to preserve their association, and to defend their rights.” I think Frederick Lauer would be proud to see that his legacy of comradery and community still holds strong amongst American craft brewers today, as well as the ongoing fight to preserve small and independent craft brewers’ rights.
Thanks to the generosity of the brewing community, soon the vandalism of his monument will be righted, and Lauer will further stand as a reminder of all that is good in the craft beer industry.