|All rights reserved by Paul King (c) 2007, 2008
| Individuals with ties to organized crime had both direct and indirect involvement with the operations of
Manhattan. During prohibition, Johnny Torrio was the primary owner, and later Al Capone was associated
with illicit activities at the brewery during the Malt Maid Products / Fort Dearborn Products era. During
and after the Prohibition era, Lou Greenberg (finance man for Al Capone) was a primary owner and manager
of Manhattan. In April, 1933 respectable Arthur Lueder shown above was installed as President.
According to the book After Capone, when Frank Nitti committed suicide in 1943, he owned 85 percent of
the stock in Manhattan and also owned an interest in the Prima-Bismark brewing company.
Manhattan had run-ins with the Feds. The ANNUAL REPORT OF THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION FOR THE FISCAL
YEAR ENDED JUNE 30 1944 mentions the following case pending in the courts: "Manhattan Brewing Co.,
Chicago.--Seventh Circuit (Chicago), misleading use of words “Canadian” and “Wisconsin” in brand or trade
names for beer or ale not brewed in Canada or Wisconsin.". The Canadian (Ace) issue drags on through 1945
and 1946. Check out the Time magazine article from 1946 on this very subject.
The Manhattan Brewing Company was founded in
Chicago, in 1893. The focus of this website is
Manhattan as it operated after prohibition. It is
primarily a forum to catalog breweriana as well as
share pictures and information. Little information
and a fair amount of mis-information on Manhattan
can be found on the Internet. The information
presented herein is based on records and breweriana
that are unquestionably attributed to the brewery,
or are widely accepted as fact. I am not a Manhattan
historian or know-it-all, but I am certainly a
The Manhattan Brewing Co. was founded in 1893.
According to the book After Capone, Chicago mobster Johnny Torrio
and partner veteran brewing magnate Joseph Stenson (of Stenson
Brewing Company) purchased Manhattan in 1919. Not long after the
purchase, pal Louis Greenberg (finance man for Al Capone) assumed
management responsibilities and held a significant stock position
in the brewery. Greenberg was seen as a perfect fit given his
experience in the booze businesses and as a money-man.
During Prohibition, Torrio, Greenberg and other underworld elements
reorganized the brewery under the Malt Maid name and in 1925 the
name was changed to Fort Dearborn Products Company. Beer was
produced illegally on the premises, and the brewery was
In 1932, with pal Greenberg's help, Chicago mob boss Frank Nitti,
purchased the brewery. Manhattan returned to regular beer
production after prohibition was repealed. In 1933, likely in
anticipation of legal 3.2% beer, the name was changed from Fort
Dearborn to back to Manhattan.
Up to January, 1936, Manhattan Brewery confined its distribution to
the states immediately adjacent to its locale. During that period,
"Old Manhattan" was their flagship brand.
With the advent of the Keglined beer can, Manhattan dramatically expanded
their distribution and brand offerings. In 1938, Manhattan boasted of
being second to the Pabst Brewing Company in canned beer production.
Manhattan had business relationships with many brewing companies.
Manhattan records indicate they owned stock in the Prima-Bismarck brewing
company, and advanced cash to a number of brewing companies (Food City,
Whitewater, Ann Arbor). Manhattan would can and bottle brands under
contract for such breweries.
According to After Capone, when Nitti committed suicide in 1943, he owned
85 percent of the stock in Manhattan and also owned an interest in the
Prima-Bismark brewing company.
Manhattan changed their name to Canadian Ace effective January 2, 1947,
and discontinued producing any brands bearing Manhattan in the name
(likely rational was an attempt clean-up the post-war image of the brewery
by putting Manhattan to bed). This website also includes information on
the Canadian Ace Brewing Company prior to March 30, 1950 (this is the last
date the "Internal Revenue Tax Paid" designation was required on beer cans
and bottles). While I draw the line there, Canadian Ace produced an
amazing number of products thereafter.
The Manhattan brewery was demolished in 1976.
Links with Organized Crime
Tangled Web of Brands and Relationships
Besides the linkage with organized crime, much of the mystique of the Manhattan Brewing Company is due
the variety of brands for which they were directly or indirectly responsible. Also, Manhattan had
business relationships and connections with many brewing companies including:
St. Louis A.B.C.
Manhattan records indicate they owned stock in the Prima-Bismark brewing company, and advanced cash to a
number of brewing companies (Food City, Whitewater, Ann Arbor). Often times Manhattan would can/and or
bottle brands under contract for such breweries, and continued to do so after some discontinued
operations (probably hoping to sustain sales). Also, after discontinuing operations, at lease one
(Whitewater) acted as general distributors for Manhattan.
The Breweriana page on this website attempts catalog this colorful history of brands bottled and canned
by Manhattan and shows the linkage with the other breweries listed above.
I hope you enjoy this site - and have fun! Thanks, Paul
Cool pic courtesy Dan Scoglietti. Wonder if this
is parked in breweries truck yard?
|Nine cellars in the
Manhattan Brewing Company
circa 1939 - click on the
pic to learn more!
Courtesy Don Roussin