The Bradford Brewing Company
While we never became known as the "Milwaukee of the East", for a short time period, Bradford did indeed have its own brewery. Located at the end of Fourth Street near the Erie Railroad tracks, (approximately under the Route 219 Expressway nowadays), it operated for over 20 years.
The brewery was incorporated as The Bradford Brewing Company in November 1899 with a capital stock of $50,000. Chief Officers were John Eckhart, president and general manager; Dominic McLaughlin, vice-president; Delevan Emery, secretary; Robert Bauer, treasurer; and Joseph Schneider, brew master.
It was described as follows: "~it occupies a handsome brick structure, one of the most imposing in Bradford. The storage capacity of the plant is 5,000 barrels, and the company brews about 20,000 barrels annually. A big elevator and a complete ice plant add to its value. The bottling department, which is a great success, is located across the street. Here every facility for the brewing of a superior quality of beer are to be found, and the greatest care is taken to have it absolutely the purest and the finest offered to the lovers of the amber nectar of the gods, the only ingredients used being malt, hops, yeast, and pure water. The local trade is large, the products of the company being on sale in the leading hotels, cafes, etc."
The brewery expanded in March 1905, when it purchased the bottling plants of the David Campbell & Company of Davis Street, and the Goodwin Brothers of Chestnut Street. Campbell and Goodwin were manufacturers and bottlers of pop, ginger ale, cider, and all kinds of soft drinks. This economically wise move gave the Bradford Brewery the ability to expand into the soft drink market on a large scale. The purchase of the bottling plants nearly doubled the brewery's size. By 1905, the storage capacity had increased to 10,000 barrels, and about 30,000 barrels were being brewed yearly. Hugo Artleib became brew master, and was "zealously careful in the management of his department".
It took about three months to brew a batch of "Bradford Beer". The plant employed 25 men, and was open at all times to the residents of Bradford so that they could see for themselves the "excellence of the establishment".
But trouble lay ahead. Only nine years later the company had to file for bankruptcy and was sold at auction on March 17, 1914 to W.E. Burdick for $15,000. Sold were the brick brewery building, a barn, the bottle house, and the ice house. With Prohibition looming on the horizon in 1920, it never reopened, and remained vacant for years.
In 1925 a gangster slaying took place at the abandoned factory. Two men from Olean, members of the "mob" that ran that city in the '20s, were slain in the early morning hours of August 1, 1925. Vincent Tallini, age 28, better known as Jimmy Firpo, and Dominic Pisano, age 25 were parked behind the brewery in Firpo's Nash sedan, when they were killed. A sawed off shotgun was found nearby. Police believe that the two men had planned "a hit" on the Bradford mob, but were double crossed and became the victims instead.
After Prohibition ended in 1931, the brewery operated under the name of Bradford Beer Corporation, but by 1945 the business was known as Burns Beer, a distributorship. It is likely that the brick building remained in existence until the 1960s, when the Route 219 Expressway was constructed, and many streets in that part of town vanished beneath the concrete highway.
- Thanks to Art Peterson for sharing the image of his Bradford Brewing Company bottle!