Bohemian Club Lager Beer
The brewery located at along Route 133 and the Mississippi River in Potosi, WI has a long and very successful story to tell. As early as 1852, beer was produced at the location, with Gabriel Hail establishing his operation along a bluff made of limestone. He selected this location as it was near a spring which poured water through the limestone rock which gave the brewery a reputation for producing beer made with sparkling spring water.
In 1879 a man named Adam Schumacher came from Germany and was introduced to Hail, who offered him employment at the brewery. Five years later, Hail committed suicide by hanging himself in the boiler room, and the brewery became idle. Schumacher found work at a competing brewery down the street, and after two years there was able to secure a loan to purchase Hail’s operation. The Schumacher family stayed involved in the Potosi brewery for decades, with family descendants holding positions until its closure in 1972.
The first beer that Schumacher introduced was a traditional German lager, which was met with great success. He slowly expanded distribution by purchasing a steam boat to deliver beer up and down the Mississippi River. By 1906 the brewery was incorporated and renamed the Potosi Brewing Company, and it continued to see tremendous growth.
On the eve of Prohibition, Potosi beer was in demand in five states, and upon repeal, trucks lined up half a mile down Main Street waiting for 4% ABV beer to be released at midnight, April 14, 1933. After repeal, the brewery’s business increased significantly. They expanded delivery up to 300 miles by truck, and sent rail shipments of beer across the country to California. They quickly transitioned from a small business producing 4000 barrels per year to a whopping 75,000 barrels annually.
As with most of the early breweries, Potosi was met with competition from the big names. To compete with the influx, they produced limited release brands, one of which was Bohemian Club. Unfortunately, by 1972 the competition was too stiff, and Potosi Brewing was forced to close, and the last of its equipment was sold at auction in 1975. However, in 2008 the historic brewery was given a fresh start, with the current day Potosi Brewing Company re-founded at the site of the original!