Stories from the Grave

Christian Hochgreve:1877-1939

Posted June 2, 2020

Cheers to good Beer or Prost auf gutes Bier as my father used to say. I am Christian Hochgreve, but my good friends always call me Chris. I was born into a brewing family. My Father, August Hochreve and Mr. Henry Rahr established a brewery in what is now Allouez, today known as the Hochgreve Brewery. I often joke that I was born in a brewery, or at least next door to one.

The brewery business was not always easy, we almost lost the brewery when father died unexpectedly. My mother and older brother worked hard to pay the debts and make the brewery profitable. Things were going well, until the “Drys” got the Volstead Act passed into law and Prohibition shut down all our operations.

We started to brew near beer, but in a secret vat, I continued to brew real beer. I contacted Mr. Peter Joseph, a former saloon owner, now taxi driver to see if he would take part in a beer delivery plan. We delivered cases of beer to his house on Oakland Avenue, and he would then deliver beer to clients with his taxi. Things went well for the first three deliveries, but on the fourth, we got busted by the feds. It was March 16, 1924, when the delivery truck was stopped and five of us were arrested. On May 12, 1924, the federal agents opened the value to the secret tank and 2,500 barrels of good beer flowed into the Fox River. Many people teared up as the amber fluid streamed into the river, where only the fish could enjoy it. I was sentenced and served six months for violating the Volstead Act.

It was the morning of September 12, 1939 that I wasn’t feeling myself, so I left my office in the brewery and went next door to my home. Brewery workers found my dead body around Noon, I had died of a heart attack. The brewery continued to operate until 1959, when the corporation board decided to shut down operations.