Hudson was home to three breweries
In the course of Hudson's history there have been several local breweries to satisfy the thirsts of early area residents.
The first brewery, established in 1857, was owned and operated by William and Henry Montman in conjunction with their store, bakery and boardinghouse at the southeast corner of Second and Walnut streets. The business was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1866, but the next year the brewery was re-established on the south bank of Lake Mallalieu east of Second Street (present site of the Mallalieu boat launch), where it flourished for the next 15 years.
In 1891, William Montman sold his brewery interest to Anton Hochstein (1851-1904) and his brother, Joseph Hochstein (1857-1920), in what could be termed a family business transaction. Anton Hochstein was married to Sophia Montman, and his brother Joseph's wife was Mary Montman.
In 1906 Hochstein's Brewery, also called the Artesian Brewery, changed hands again, when Henry M. Singelman (1870-1949) paid $10,000 for the business property.
Longtime brewmaster at the brewery was Fred Bleier, who came to Hudson in 1891 and a year later went to work for the Hochstein brothers. In 1907 the plant's annual capacity was said to be 12,000 barrels. A contemporary article in the Star-Times stated, "All beer is made from barley and hops only and each bushel of grain is personally inspected by Mr. Bleier."
Louis Yoerg came to Hudson late in 1870 and established the Hudson City Brewery on Coulee Road. The plant's capacity was 500 barrels a year.
However, another small brewery predated Yoerg's brewing business. A rare Bird's Eye View of Hudson lithograph, published in 1870, shows the existence of R.A. Gridley and WYH brewery on Coulee Road.
Yoerg's brewery was a successful operation until it was destroyed by fire, but it was immediately rebuilt. In 1876, the brewery started using steam power, which increased its capacity to 1,000 barrels annually.
Hudsonites will be interested to know that Louis Yoerg's only son, Joseph Yoerg (1871-1962), who was associated with the First National Bank of Hudson his entire adult life, was born in the Italianate style residence at 20 Coulee Road, across from the brewery.
At Louis Yoerg's death in 1891, the brewery was acquired by George Reidel, who in turn sold the business in 1896 to Joseph A. Casanova (1870-1946) and his brother, Christ Casanova (1868-1917).
The Casanova brothers learned their trade in Stillwater after their arrival from Switzerland in the 1880s. Their Hudson operation started on a small scale, but gradually enlarged. Two years after buying the brewery, the business was destroyed by fire. The brewery was immediately rebuilt. The three-story brewery building was erected at that time and remained a landmark until it was razed in 1947.
In 1912, Casanova Brewery had a capacity of 15,000 barrels, according to a Star-Observer news article.
Beer brand names manufactured by Casanova's had the label of Old Settlers, Pilsner and Export.
With the advent of Prohibition in 1919, the making of beer came to an end. Casanova's, however, re-geared their operation and made "near beer" (a malt beverage that is similar to beer, but with an alcoholic content of less than one-half percent) and went into the distribution of soft drinks. The firm name was changed to Casanova Beverage Co.
Still of immense interest today are the brewery caves on the south side of Coulee Road -- the only remnants of the brewing industry to remain. The caves, used to age the beer, were first carved into the hill behind the brewery by Louis Yoerg in the 1870s and were greatly enlarged by the Casanova brothers at the turn of the century.