In September of 1899 the Whatcom Brewery was incorporated with a capital of $40,000. The principals of the new firm were Fritz Grathwohl, pres., Ludwig Berg, manager, and Edward Lane, secretary-treasurer.
The venture was not an immediate success, as the small brewery had to deal with established regional products carried in local saloons like Rainier Beer and Pacific Beer, as well as nationals such as Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser Beer. An 1900 ad (below) promoted Washington hops, and urged patrons to buy locally to further Whatcom county prosperity.
1900 ad for Whatcom Beer
In spite of pleas
to "buy locally", or perhaps due to the quality of his beer, the
business remained unprofitable. On 16 April, 1902, after struggling for
2½ years, Grathwohl sold out to a group of Bellingham businessmen for
$20,000. He then relocated to Oroville, WA, where he established the
Oroville Brewing Co. which had a six year run.
The new owners consisted of the brewery's superintendent, Stanislaus T. Zynda, plus liquor dealers, who had control of ten, area saloons. It appears that Zynda was an agent for Leopold Schmidt, owner of the Olympia Brewing Co., who was orchestrating this takeover. His behind the scene maneuvers sought to eliminate local competition, and to secure ten outlets, or "tied-houses" for sole distribution of his beer that would soon be produced in a new plant nearby.
later, in June 1903, Zynda travels to Salem, OR and purchases the city's
Capital Brewery & Ice Works for $75,000. The following month the brewery
is incorporated as the Salem
Brewery Assn., with L. F. Schmidt, president, and S. T. Zynda,
The Whatcom Brewery, under Schmidt's direction, invested in improvements and initiated an aggressive advertising campaign. It was now at full capacity and enjoying an increased demand for its product.
Whatcom Brewing & Malting ad, ca.1900
On January 13, 1903
Schmidt went public with his takeover, and after only nine months, the
revitalized Whatcom Brewery was absorbed by Schmidt's new
Bellingham Bay Brewery. A
number of stockholders invested $50,000 in 3-B for part of their
While Whatcom Brewing & Malting had a fair share of the local beer market, its greatest asset was its two 50 ton ice machines. It had the capacity to meet the entire ice needs of the area, so after the merger, the brewery's ice works and cold storage continued to be utilized, but its Whatcom Beer production ceased, with 3-B Beer remaining the sole product of the combined businesses.
In 1925 the old brewery was sold and the structure later burned. It was located at 2103 Iowa St., now part of Bellingham's auto row.
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