East Side History Madison’s Blog

By and for the East Side History Club, a project of the Goodman Community Center

East Siders enjoy “Gestalt of Malt”

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on April 2, 2011

Our March meeting brought a capacity crowd to the Malt House to learn about bars and brews of the East Side. Those who shared tales of their connections to our brewing history included:

  • Peter Fauerbach, Fauerbach Brewery,
  • Gary and Jim Hess, Hess Cooperage ,
  • Dean Coffey, Brewmaster, Ale Asylum,
  • Fritz Schlimgen, Ohio Tavern,
  • The Matush sisters Judy (Riddle) Nancy (Ryan) and Sue (still looking for her last name), and
  • Bill Rogers, Malt House.

We learned about the close ties between the Fauerbach Brewery and the Hess Cooperage–Henry Fauerbach had persuaded Frank J. Hess to relocate his Chicago cooperage to Madison in order to supply barrels to the Fauerbach Brewery. The Hess Cooperage sold barrels to all the Madison breweries early last century, including Fauerbach on Williamson Street, Hausman by Tenney Park, and Breckheimer on King Street.

Fritz Schlimgen tells tales from the Ohio Tavern.

Fritz Schlimgen shared the history of the Ohio Tavern, started by his father andJohnny Zoellers and later sold to a pair of their bartenders during World War II. When Fritz got out of the Navy in 1946, he tended bar part-time. The Ohio had the first shuffleboard table in Madison. After Fritz and Fran married in 1947, they lived above the tavern. “We didn’t need a radio–we had the jukebox from downstairs,” he laughed.

“I was maybe the worst bartender there ever was,” Fritz admitted. None of the bartenders knew how to make the new mixed drinks, manhattans and martinis–that’s not what most East Siders drank. “One time a guy ordered a ‘tin roof'” Fritz said. “I didn’t know what that was, so he said ‘I’ll help you.’ He told me to put in a shot of this, a shot of that. Once I had it mixed I asked him, ‘How much do you pay for a tin roof?’ The guy replied, ‘the roof is on the house.’ On the house! He didn’t pay for the drink!”

Judy Riddle described family life at the Trophy Tap, with the children working shifts cleaning and putting up decorations for holidays. “We put money in the balloons for New Year’s Eve. At midnight people wouldbreak the balloons–money flew all over. When time for spring cleaning came, we’d find the money–we were rich for young children,” Judy recalled. We learned that the Matush’s Trophy Tap was considered the safest, nicest, neatest bar in Madison by the police force. With three sisters cleaning it, no wonder!

Bill Rogers ran down the 150+ years of history of the tavern at Milwaukee Street and East Washington known over the years as the Union House, Esser’s Tavern, and now the Malt House. The back bar and bar are original, dating to1858. One there was a system to drop beer bottles through a hole to a turntable in the basement for sorting and returning to the various breweries. Today, the bar has a tap system that serves up 18 fresh craft beers. Now that’s worth stopping by for a taste.

In addition, Pat Martin showed posters hand-drawn by Sid Boyum and given to various area tavern owners; these had come from the Union House Tavern.

Thank you, everyone who helped make our March meeting a fascinating and sociable afternoon.

-Sarah White

Bill Rogers and Pat Martin display a Sid Boyum political cartoon; Pete Fauerbach looks on from the background.

2 Responses to “East Siders enjoy “Gestalt of Malt””

  1. […] eastsidehistorymadison on April 17, 2011 At the East Side History Club’s March 2011 meeting a number of guests talked about their connections with our local breweries and taverns. Among the guests were three daughters […]

  2. […] Tavern represents this exact juxtaposition between history and modernity that we mention – Fritz’s father started the Ohio Tavern in the 1930s and it lives on today with a contemporary twist on Tacos […]

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