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Dogtown Brewing Honors Richmond Brewing Pioneers with Peter Stumpf & Rosenegk Beers

If you have been to the newly opened Dogtown Brewing yet, you might have noticed some old German brewing names on the board from Richmond’s former golden period of beer.

Dogtown has re-launched two historic Richmond Beers, Peter Stumpf XXX Brown and the Rosenegk Tidal Wave as a nod to Richmond’s legendary pioneers of brewing before the prohibition era crashed the party.

Peter Stumpf and Rosnegk History

In 1892 Richmond’s local beer creativity sprung into action when Peter Stumpf and Alfred von Nickisch Rosenegk both opened Richmond breweries within months of each other. They even gave their two competing breweries nearly identical names. Rosenegk named his operation “Richmond Brewery” while Stumpf named his brewery “Richmond Brewing Co.” To address the obvious confusion, they changed their brewery names to Rosenegk Brewing Company and Peter Stumpf Brewing Company.

Stumpf and Rosenegk shared an idea to create locally made and supported “home” breweries to differentiate themselves from the “come heres” who were opening branch operations in Richmond. At the time, out-of-town breweries such as St. Louis’ Anheuser-Busch, Pennsylvania’s Yuengling, Milwaukee’s Pabst, and Cincinnati’s Christien Möerlein were setting up shop in the attractive Richmond market.

Stumpf and Rosnegk competed heavily, and fought in a protracted legal battle over who made Richmond’s best beer. Despite the competition and Stumpf’s retirement (ultimately changing the name to Home Brewing Co.), both breweries were doing well as Richmond’s German community supported their beer drinking heritage.

Despite their success, prohibition was adopted in Virginia in 1916 and it derailed the plans for both Stumpf and Rosenegk. Rosnegk Brewing Co went out of business almost immediately, and owner Alfred von Nickisch Rosenegk’s health deteriorated rapidly as he watched his brewing empire implode. Rosenegk died shortly thereafter as did Peter Stumpf. Richmond’s brewing community was dealt a mighty blow as the two bastions of the German community were lost in such a short span of time. Home Brewing Company shifted over to making local soft drinks such as “Climax” sodas in an attempt to remain financially viable while it waited, hoping that prohibition would someday be repealed. Luckily for Home Brewing, it survived. Relaunching its brewing operation after the repeal of Prohibition, it eventually introduced Richmond’s once ubiquitous Richbrau beer. But the competition was too great from mega breweries such as Anheuser-Bush which had the advantage of a national footprint during a time when low cost was paramount and flavor mattered less. Home Brewing Company ceased operations in 1969 (in 1993 the Richbrau brewpub opened in Shockoe Slip, operating for 17 years before ultimately closing its doors and just recently, the Richbrau brand has been resurrected in Tobacco Row-go check them out!).

Today’s New Golden Period for Richmond Beer

Richmond is unquestionably in another golden period for brewing boasting approximately 37 breweries and growing. Dogtown Brewing thought it would be appropriate to honor two legends who had the same vision that today’s breweries have, only 125 years ago by relaunching the Peter Stumpf and Rosnegk names.

Similar to Climax with the relaunch of their Richmond retro craft sodas, the original plan was to relaunch Peter Stumpf and Rosenegk at the Siegel’s development in Swansboro. All three planned to open at Siegel’s as part of a mixed use development that was heavily themed toward food and beverage. But the re-zoning for Hull Street in Swansboro has languished amongst other high priorities at City Hall. While plans are still in the works for Siegel’s (subject to the rezoning being completed by City Hall and approved by City Council), the Dogtown Brewing team didn’t want to wait any longer to make progress on relaunching the retro beverage brands. Hence the accelerated launch at Dogtown Brewing’s Manchester brewpub on Hull Street to get the process started.

If you get a chance, stop on in to Manchester and sample some of these retro Richmond beers. Everything old is new again!

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