The Weston Brewing Company was first established in 1842 by German immigrant John Georgian. Georgian brought the tradition of lager brewing with him when he settled in Weston. The brewery was designed to utilize ice from the river during winter and lagering cellars dug deep into the ground to create ideal conditions for his beer which needed to be stored below 60 degrees for more than six weeks. In creating the brewery, the Weston Brewing Company became one of the first lager breweries in the United States.
Upon Georgian’s death in 1857, the brewery was acquired by August Kunz. The Kunz family, Joseph and Charles, were active in the brewery business in Leavenworth, KS during the same time period.
Kunz rebuilt the brewery after it was destroyed by fire in 1860 and continued to operate it until 1872 when he closed it due to financial problems. The brewery remained in an inactive status until 1885 when another Leavenworth brewer, John Brandon, an English immigrant and engineer by trade, teamed with fellow Leavenworth resident, George Mack, to reopen, the brewery.
As respective Manager and Superintendent of the brewery, Brandon and Mack negotiated a deal with famous Lawrence, KS brewer, John Walruff. Walruff with his son August, acquired the brewery in 1887.
Walruff, a native of Cologne, Prussia and machinist by trade, dabbled in politics and banking in Ottawa, KS before opening a large brewery and beer garden in Lawrence, KS.
When the Kansas Legislature passed a prohibition law in 1880, Walruff spent six years and many thousands of dollars trying to circumvent the law by claiming his products were ‘medical beer’ that cured stomach and other intestinal ailments.
A United States Supreme Court decision in 1887 against Salina, KS brewer, Peter Mugler and the United States Brewers’ Association, concerning a States’ right to close down a brewery if the State felt it would prevent injurious use of its product was the final blow to Walruff. Walruff soon gave up his fight and relocated his brewery to Weston, MO.
Walruff and son August spent $50,000 to refurbish the Plant. August even took courses in Cincinnati to become a master brewer. The elder Walruff spent only one and a half years in Weston, moving to Kansas City in 1890. By 1894 it was rumored that he had piled up over $40,000 in debt. August stayed in Weston and was elected Mayor; a position he held for a good many years.
The brewery made 12,000 barrels of pale lager annually, had 20 employees, and was worth $80,000. Weston offices were located at 15th and Hickorv in Kansas City, MO and the Leavenworth Depot at 319 Shawnee. In 1901, a new corporation was formed called the Royal Brewing Co., of Kansas City with a net worth of $50,000. The incorporators were listed as Benjamin J. Joffee, Benjamin F. Wollman, Morton WolIman, August F. Walruff and John Walruff. A branch office was established at 1111-1114 Grand Avenue in Kansas City, MO. In 1904 it moved to 1912 Grand Avenue.
In 1907, the old corporation was replaced by a new one with capital stock listed at $200,000. The new incorporators were Dan Danciger, Jack Danciger and Abe Danciger. The Kansas City branch office was moved to 308 West 6th Street and later changed to 310 W. 6th Street,
A few years before prohibition, the brewery like many others in the country began producing a ‘near beer’.
Promoted as the “oldest brewery West of the Hudson River”, the brewery sponsored the first Kansas City Royals baseball team in the early 1900’s.
The Weston Royal label was well known throughout the Midwest and even Europe in its heyday. In the early 1900’s, the brewery was the largest manufacturing plant in Platte County and was producing 20,000 barrels a year.
Five stone cellars that were dug in the 1840’s were used to lager and chill the beer in solid oaken tanks. Popular brands produced by the brewery were a Royal Pilsener advertised as “the beer that made Milwaukee jealous;” Rip Van Winkle, “the world’s richest bottle of beer;” and Vivatone, “a family beverage for all ailments.”
The Weston Brewing Company of 1997 -1999 operated a 24 barrel traditional brewing operation located next to the original stone walls on the site of the Royal Brewery. Although short lived, the Weston Brewing Company produce an excellent Weston Pale Lager and Irish Ale produced in the original 19th century beer styles.
In 2005, lifelong friends, Michael Coakley and Corey Weinfurt purchased the 3.2 acre complex, and today, you can find them, still at the helm, producing over 15 brands, with a over a decade of progress.