Christian Krauch arrived in Philadelphia in 1834 from Germany, six years prior to the introduction of lager beer in America. Krauch was operating a small ale brewery in 1840 when John Wagner immigrated to the city, bringing with him yeast for lager beer. The advancements in clipper ship design made trans-Atlantic travel quicker and, thus, it became possible for delicate lager yeast could survive trips from mainland Europe to America.
By 1850, Krauch had moved south to the burgeoning city of Wilmington, where he opened the first lager beer brewery in the state’s history. He would affectionately be known from then on as “Delaware’s Father of Lager Beer”. In fact, Krauch’s brewery was a very small operation, located in the back of his hotel and saloon on Eight Street, near Orange. He later moved operation near the Christina River waterfront at 70 King Street. These early lager beer brewery/saloons were indeed the forerunners of the modern day brewpub. Krauch’s saloon became a popular meeting spot for Wilmington’s small but closely-knit German community and, in 1853, it hosted the the first meeting of what would become the Delaware Saengerbund club. Krauch was an honorary member of that club and was entrusted with maintaining the club’s keepsake items, such as its official flag.
In August 1857, Krauch moved his hotel, saloon and brewery to more a commodious location a couple of blocks north to 308 King Street and named the new establishment the Mount Vernon Hotel. The next year he also opened a brewery and saloon, called the Mount Vernon House, on Edgemont Avenue in Chester, Pennsylvania, no doubt in response to Delaware’s temporary attempt a statewide Prohibition.
Krauch remained at 308 King until about 1866, after which time he sold the business and devoted his full attention to the Manitoex Saloon at Rosendale Pleasure Grounds at the western edge of the city, near Rattlesnake Run. The park, which was owned by the nearby Hartmann & Fehrenbach Brewing Company, hosted weekend entertainment seekers, picnics and other special events. Christian remained at Rosendale Park until just before his death in October 1870.
Though inarguably one of the most significant figures in Delaware brewing history and a pioneer American brewer, Krauch died penniless and was buried in an unmarked grave at Wilmington & Brandywine Cemetery.
A crowdfunding site has been established to honor Delaware’s “Father of Lager Beer” with a memorial marker at his gravesite. The public is invited to contribute to the Christian Krauch Memorial fund at this website.