Reno Brewing Company (site)

“Reno need no longer send east for lager,” rejoiced one of the local papers upon the opening of the Reno Brewing Company in 1903. Located on the corner of E. 4th and Spokane Streets, the new company joined a number of existing breweries in Reno including the Buffalo Brewing Company, Riter’s Elite Steam Beer, and the Wieland Brewing Company.

The new business was founded by a trio of men in their thirties. Master brewer Jacob Hook had immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1886, while John Maurer and Peter Dohr were second-generation Germans originally from Wisconsin who moved to Reno from Montana. Their raw materials–corn, malt, and hops–were brought into town by rail, and an electricity-powered ice plant on the premises chilled the barrels in a vast refrigerator room.

By 1907 the successful company boasted a new five-story brick "annex" and produced three varieties of beer: Sierra Beer, Malt Rose, and Royal Lager. It was soon the largest brewery in the state, shipping its product from the nearby railroad tracks and delivering locally in the company’s signature trucks.

As the tee-totaling temperance movement gained momentum, the company began to promote its beer as a healthy, even medically beneficial, beverage. Unlike many of the state’s other breweries, which shut down permanently during Prohibition, the Reno Brewing Company sailed through by cleverly redirecting its equipment to manufacture near-beer, soda water, seltzers, tonics, and fruit-flavored soft drinks.

In the 1930s, the brewery began to produce a beer called One Sound State, a reference to Nevada’s campaign to entice prospective residents with its favorable tax climate. With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, demand for the company’s beer soared higher than ever, and in 1940, the company constructed a new bottling plant next door, which still stands today. A 380-foot well provided direct access to the water used in production.

The beer business soon changed, however, as a few national brands like Anheuser Busch began to dominate the industry, squeezing out smaller producers. After entering into an ill-advised financial arrangement with eccentric local millionaire LeVere Redfield, the Reno Brewing Company was forced to stop brewing in 1957. The company’s assets were sold, and the building was acquired by Joseph Hobson of the Frontier Land & Cattle Co. The building was demolished in 1959, reportedly to make way for a projected casino that was never built.

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990 East 4th Street, Reno, NV