I have always wondered why many pre-prohibition era brewers used a lion in their image when trying to sell their beer? One of my favorite beer collectibles which I have recently come across is this beautiful reverse on glass sign from The Windisch-Muhlhauser Brewing Company advertising their Lion Brand of beer, produced by the Lion Brewery in Cincinnati, OH.
Why many breweries in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s used a lion image is unknown to me. There were quite a few beers using lions, one which even called itself “The King of Beers”, and surprisingly was not Anheuser-Busch, but instead was the American Brewing Company in St. Louis, MO. Some of their ads featured the lion image and their beer calling the image “The Two Kings”. The Lion Brewery in Cincinnati was not the only brewery with this name, as the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, PA had the same name. The Empire Brewing Company in St. Louis also used a lion image in the vast amount of their advertising at that time.
The only reason I can rationalize lions were used extensively was the perception a lion might bring of a strong and dominating presence. Many breweries before prohibition had a lot of competition in their local cities, so using a lion certainly might help create a lasting presence. The Lion name by itself could command respect and create a sense of a strong product? These are only guesses, and I am hopeful with time the reasoning for the extensive use of lions in beer advertising before prohibition will become known.
The Windisch-Muhlhauser Brewing Company was the second largest brewery in the city of Cincinnati prior to prohibition, following only the Christian Moerlein Brewery in annual barrel capacity. The brewery was located at 1555 Central Parkway, and for historians, most of the original buildings are still standing today! However, the main brewery building was demolished due to a deteriorating state of condition. The brewery was founded in 1866 by Conrad Windisch and his partners, Gottlieb and Heinrich Muhlhauser. The brewery later reorganized after it became fairly large, and named itself The Lion Brewery, a name much easier to remember and pronounce than it’s predecessor. However like so many other breweries, the business ended with the start of prohibition in 1919. When the law was repealed, the complex became the Burger Brewing Company which remained in business until 1973.