Ace Hi Beer

At first glance this Chicago brewery may appear to have a rather common story of one who began after prohibition, was short lived and shut down after the influx of big name, nationwide breweries.

However, the story of this brewery located at 39th and Emerald is anything but common. Founded as Manhattan Brewing Co. in 1893, it was purchased by famous mob gangster and bootlegger Johnny Torrio and his brewing partner, Joseph Stenson in 1919. Lou Greenberg, the financial genius behind the Capone gang, was hired as the manager and operator of the business.

Throughout prohibition, the brewery maintained its Manhattan name and supplied the city’s south side with illegal beer. It was during this time, from 1925-1932 that Al Capone and Chicago Mob Boss Frank Nitti were also associated with illicit activities at the brewery.

After many searches, fines and charges for illegal activities, Manhattan changed its name to Canadian Ace in January 1947. They had been using “deceptive” marketing words like Canadian and Wisconsin to give the illusion that their beer was being produced elsewhere. As the Canadian Ace brand grew, and in an effort to deflect mob association, the Manhattan line and name was discontinued. However, ties to mob activity remained as Greenberg maintained principal ownership in Canadian Ace Brewing.

Name aliases continued through the sixties and included Ace Hi and Ace Brewing from 1958-1962. The facility closed for good in 1968 and was demolished in 1976.