Filed Under Industry

Reno Brewing Company Bottling Plant

This modern 1940 bottling plant greatly expanded the capacity of the Reno Brewing Company.

In 1940, business was booming for the Reno Brewing Company. Founded in 1903 and having survived Prohibition by selling near beer, soda, and other related products, the company was entering the new decade with confidence. In February, plans were announced to construct a new bottling plant next to the company’s main building at Spokane and E. 4th Streets.

When it opened later that year at 900 East 4th Street, the building was said to be “modern in every detail.” Constructed of brick and glass block, it ran 130 feet along 4th Street and 100 feet deep along Morrill. The giant main room, supported by the largest single-span steel roof in the state of Nevada, was said to be one of the best lit in the city, finished in a new type of chrome paint to brighten the interior, augmented by the rows of glass brick and a series of 15 large skylights.

Air conditioned offices ran along the west side of the building, with locker and shower rooms for the workers. Along another side were a series of machines connected by conveyer belts, which carried bottles through the entire bottling process without being touched by hand.

First, bottles were thoroughly sterilized with eight gallons each of solution under pressure and brushed inside twice, with two sets of brushes. Washing was followed in order by passage of the bottles to the filling and crowning machine, then to the pasteurizer and labeler. Capacity of the department was 110 bottles per minute. At the time of the plant’s construction, the brewery’s chief products were Sierra Beer, put out in both barrels and bottles, Royal beer in cans, and One Sound State beer in bottles. The company employed an average of 26 people year-round.

The Reno Brewing Company ceased operations in 1957 after years of financial struggles, and the bottling plant building was purchased in 1958 by Joseph Hobson, who originally intended to open a casino there. In the years to follow, the property was leased out to a variety of businesses, from a concrete company to a plumbing supplier. The building has stood largely vacant since 1989.

Audio

Artown re-piano project Interviewed in 2012, Dave Aiazzi, then a Reno City Councilman, recalls a recent collaboration with Reno Brewing Company Bottling Plant owner Spencer Hobson in a unique art project for Reno's Artown celebration. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2012

Images

The new plant
The new plant This photo, taken around 1940, shows the main brewery building still standing in the background. The bottling plant in the foreground is where beer was canned and bottled for sale. Source: Nevada Historical Society Date: ca. 1940
Dorothy Radcliffe Allard, 1946
Dorothy Radcliffe Allard, 1946 Dorothy Radcliffe worked in the accounting department of the Reno Brewing Company from 1943 to 1949. One snowy New Year's Eve, Lou Allard, an employee with the company since the 1930s, offered her a ride home, and their romance began. They married in 1948. Here, Dorothy stands in front of the bottling plant in 1946. Source: Lou Allard Date: 1946
Bottle washing equipment, 1950s
Bottle washing equipment, 1950s The bottle washing machine is surrounded by boxes of Sierra Beer. Source: Nevada Historical Society Date: 1950s
Bottle capping, 1950s
Bottle capping, 1950s The bottles were filled and then capped with this machine, operated for a time by Carl Burbott, pictured here. Source: Nevada Historical Society Date: 1950s
Sealing cans, 1950s
Sealing cans, 1950s Operated by a man nicknamed “Slim,” pictured here, this machine sealed cans of Sierra lager. The cans were then boxed and shipped to stores throughout the area. Source: Nevada Historical Society Date: 1950s
Sierra Beer
Sierra Beer An undated photo, ca. 1940s, shows the Reno Brewing Company's main building and bottling plant in their prime. Note the Richfield gasoline station in the foreground. Source: Nevada Department of Transportation Date: ca. 1940s
Spencer Hobson
Spencer Hobson The building's owner in 2013, Spencer Hobson, stands inside the expansive interior. Source: Patrick Cummings Date: 2013
Bottling Plant, 2014
Bottling Plant, 2014 The building's ribbons of glass block and skylights still give the building a striking appearance. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2014

Location

900 E. 4th Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “Reno Brewing Company Bottling Plant,” Reno Historical, accessed April 12, 2024, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/84.