Travelers on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway would see a giant “bottle” resting on steel framework above a Newark building that was once a soda producing plant, and later, a brewery.
The bottle and the buildings around it were constructed in 1930 by the Hoffman Beverage Company. Made of copper-coated steel plates approximately 0.25 in. thick, the giant bottle measures 18 ft. in diameter and 60 ft. high. On the platform, the top is 18 stories off the ground and six people can stand on its cap at one time. It is actually a 55,000-gal. water tower.
In 1930 when Prohibition was the law of the land, Hoffman designed the plant to produce soda in every flavor imaginable. However, its best seller was “Pale Dry Ginger Ale.”
In 1934 when Prohibition was repealed by the U.S. Congress, Hoffman turned to brewing beer as did several other historic Newark brewers such as Ballantine, Krueger, Henseler, Feigenspan, Weidenmayer and Anheuser-Busch. Today only Anheuser-Busch remains.
Newark was a leading center of the brewing industry in the United States in the ’30s and ’40s.
However when Hoffman was unable to compete with the growing national brand name beer business, it sold its Newark facility to the Pabst Brewing Co., which was founded in Milwaukee, WI, in 1844.
Pabst operated very successfully with breweries in Milwaukee; Newark; Peoria, IL; and Los Angeles with its beer production hitting an all-time high of 18 million barrels in 1977.
After a lengthy strike at the Newark Brewery, Pabst closed the facility in 1986. It has lain idle ever since except for a brief “guest appearance” in a recent episode of “The Sopranos.”
The facility is now owned by West Developers LLC. The company and Newark city officials are trying to decide what to do with the bottle, which they would like to preserve in some other setting.
Meanwhile, T. Fiore Demolition Inc., a Newark-based demolition contractor is in the final stage of demolishing all 24 buildings on the 10-acre site. Replacing the old Hoffman/Pabst facility will be 130,000 sq. ft. of commercial/retail space and 179 housing units.
For more information, call 800/4-Hoffman.