Like many iconic American beers, the Miller Brewing company was started by a German immigrant. Born November 24, 1824 in Riedlingen, Germany, Frederick J. Miller hailed from a family of politicians, scholars and business owners. His calling as a brew meister came in his early twenties. On his way back to Germany after seven years of classical academic studies in France, Miller chanced upon an uncle who was a brewer and decided to stay on and learn the business.
After working in all aspects of his uncle’s brewery and learning everything he could about brewing beer, Frederick returned to Germany determined to start a brewery. He leased the royal brewery of the House of Hohenzollerns, but before he could make his mark in the beer business political unrest and increasing restrictions on trade in Europe led him to immigrate to the United States.
Accompanied by his wife Josephine and young son, Frederick arrived in New York in 1855 with, as legend has it, a pocketful of brewer’s yeast and $9,000 in gold. His plan was to continue where he left off in Germany. After spending a year scouting the country for cities with good access to waterways, as well as the barley and hops needed for brewing beer, he settled in Milwaukee. As he described it: “A town with a magnificent harbor like that has a great future in store."
Frederick bought the abandoned Charles Best Plank Road Brewery in the Menomonee Valley and established the Frederick Miller Brewery. For many years, the entire operation was about the size of a Victorian-era house. Always passionate about his beer, Miller proclaimed "Quality, Uncompromising and Unchanging" as his slogan. More than a beer slogan, though, it summarized his vision for the company.
Despite the loss of his first wife, Josephine, and the deaths of several children from both his first and second marriages, Miller persevered and built what would become an empire. So, raise a glass in salute to one of America’s best-known and beloved brewers!