Piels Brewery

A tip of the hat to breweriana collector T. J. Wiegand, who sent over a wealth of information and pictures of the brewery. Piels was founded by the german Piel brothers, Gottfried, Wilhelm and Michael in 1883. They started by buying the existing Landser Brewery and and steadily expanded. A significant german population had emigrated to East New York, and Piels and Trommers not only experienced success but survived Prohibition. Although Piels was eventually sold in 40 states, it retained its focus as a local brewer. Piels expands again in 1947, and in 1950 buys out Trommers. In 1955 Piels launches an ad campaign featuring two fictional characters, Bert and Harry, that were considered landmarks in advertising for their entertainment value. Eventually the scale of the national brewers took its toll. The Piels plant in East New York shut down Sept. 20, 1973.

Landser Brewery, undated.
Source: TJ Wiegand Collection
The Piel brothers start out in 1883 by buying this brewery. I do not have a specific location but I assume it was in the general location between Georgia and Sheffield south of Liberty Ave. UPDATE: I discovered Piels misspelled the name in their brochure; it was Charles Lanzers brewery, and it was in fact located on the corner of Liberty and Georgia. Damaged extensively by fire in 1873, Piels bought the property for $30,000.
Piels complex, 1905
The 1905 Plat map shows the growth of Piels by 1905. That is Georgia Ave. running left to right down the middle, and Liberty Ave. from top to bottom in the middle. The "casino" is an outdoor beer garden, popular at that time(see below).







Piel's Garden (1905) and Ad (1895), Brooklyn Daily Eagle
These ads ran daily in the Brooklyn Eagle at the turn of the century. I found the following background on Timesweekly.com: "As was the custom with German brewers in America, Piel Bros. Brewery in the early 1900s had a beer garden adjacent to their business. It was called the “Summer Garden” and was located behind a high wooden fence on Liberty Avenue between Georgia Avenue and Sheffield Avenue in East New York. Electric trolley cars passed right in front of the entrance. When a visitor entered the summer garden building, on the left was the dining room which seated 200 persons at small linen-covered tables. In back of the dining room was a long indoor extension with round wooden tables no tablecloths. Proceeding further, one entered the large outdoor garden, the grounds of which were covered with white gravel. There were a number of tables and benches under a canopy of trees. At night this area was lit with colored electric lights. The waiters in the summer garden competed to see who could carry the most seidels of Piels Beer from the bar to their customers tables. In 1904 one waiter carried 16 seidels (eight in each hand). The Trommer Brewery at their Maple Garden on Bushwick Avenue had music to entertain their patrons. Piels did not, but their customers entertained themselves by singing songs. The summer garden at Piel Bros. Brewery was a victim of its own success, when they expanded the brewery to meet increased demand in 1912. The space occupied by the summer garden was needed for the expansion, so it was discontinued."
NOTE: If you visit Zone 1 there is an image of the Trommers Beer Garden. .
Piels Brewery Sign, 1947.
Source: TJ Wiegand Collection
William Piel had the world's largest beer sign installed atop the brewery. It faced Liberty Avenue and my mother could see the sign from her bedroom window on Georgia Avenue. This shot is a daytime shot; the real treat came at nighttime. The sign was a neon sign featuring gnomes bowling. If you look carefully at the "ER" in the word "BEER" you can see the outline of the bowling pins. We are still searching for a nighttime shot of the sign.
Piels Factory, 1940
Neil Sullivan and I found at least 2 tax photos of the complex. The first would be a view north up Georgia Ave from Glenmore towards Liberty. You are looking at the factory from behind the sign. The second shot is on the northwest corner of Liberty and Sheffield; the building faced Sheffield Ave.
Piels Advertising Icons
Source:Bruce Gomes Collection
The original ad icons for Piels were gnomes; the famous neon Piels sign featured a gnome bowling a strike. They were replaced in 1955 by two comic characters, Bert and Harry, voiced in commercials by radio personalities Bob and Ray.
Piels Brew House, 1972
TJ Wiegand had the foresight in 1972 to go around with his instamatic and capture the old brewery before it met the wrecking ball.
Piels Brew House, 1972
These shots show the intricate brickwork of the brewhouse, and the Liberty Ave side with the sign now gone.
Piels Bottle Shop, 1972
More of TJ's 1972 shots, this is of the bottle shop.
Piels , 1972
The receiving office was located at 107 Georgia. The second shot shows the brew house and malt conveyor.
Piels Admin Offices, 1972
In 1959 Piels built a new Administration Building at 315 Liberty Avenue, the north side between Alabama and Georgia. TJ recalls the lobby had an oil painting of Michael Piel in it. The building still stands, though the Piels sign is gone and the windows are cemented over.
Piels area, 2006
Neil Sullivan sent in these update shots; the first is view along Liberty to Sheffield, now an industrial park, and the second is the building in the 2nd tax photo on the corner of Liberty and Sheffield.
Piels area, 2006
Fianlly, a Local Live aerial view from 2006.The large lot with the yellow buses was the site of the brewhouse and the sign. Across Liberty to the left is the old admin building.Thanks again to TJ and Neil for their contributions.