Brewing played a significant role in the commercial landscape of New Albany for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The arrival of large numbers of German immigrants during the 1840s and 1850s created strong demand for beverages enjoyed by workingmen at the end of a day’s labor. In 1861, Paul Reising, a Bavarian immigrant, bought the City Brewery at the intersection of Fourth and Spring Streets. Reising’s brewery soon became one of the most successful in New Albany. In 1868, the Floyd Gazetteer reported that the brewery “is one of the oldest and largest firms in this line in the city.” It occupied a two-story building with a footprint of 115 x 50 feet and employed five men. Overall manufacturing capacity stood at thirty barrels of beer per day. The Reising Brewery competed with several other companies in the city, including the Market Street Brewery, Main Street Brewery, and Spring Brewery.
In 1912, Michael Schrick bought the Reising Brewery for $34,000. He immediately changed the name to the Southern Indiana Brewing Company. The brewery went bankrupt three years later when reports of bad beer crushed its sales. Schrick then changed the name to the Southern Indiana Ice and Beverage Company. Prohibition took effect soon afterwards. Regulators forced the brewery to close when they found its beer contained contain more alcohol than allowed by law. In 1927, Ernest Boone purchased the brewery buildings and opened the Southern Indiana Ice Company. His venture did not last long. The company closed its doors in 1935.
By mid-1930s, breweries had disappeared from New Albany. Prohibition led to consolidation within the industry. Whereas small breweries had once been common, after Prohibition, a handful of large manufacturers took their place. In 1969, the last buildings to survive from the Reisling Brewery were demolished. Today a Best Western hotel occupies the location. Brewing remains a part of the culture and social life of New Albany, albeit in a different way than before. The New Albany Brewing Company at 415 Bank Street is a popular brewpub.
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