The craft-beer scene is alive and well in Philadelphia, but before Yards, Victory or the Philadelphia Brewing Company came along, there was Hohenadel beer.
The Hohenadel name hearkens back to pre-prohibition days, when beer brewing — and drinking — was at its finest, especially in cities like Philadelphia.
Of German descent, John William Hohenadel and family moved to the “Falls of the Schuylkill” and founded J. Hohenadel’s Falls Brewery at Indian Queen Lane and Conrad St. in 1894.
The brewery produced up to seven varieties of beer including a Queen Ale and a Rival Porter.
Hohenadel was most famed for his German-style lager, a variety not introduced to the United States until 1840 when German brewer John Wagner immigrated to Philadelphia and smuggled a lager yeast strain with him along the way.
As with all breweries and establishments of the day, prohibition took its toll and now, more than 100 years later, the Hohenadel brewery has long since been gone.
A Hohenadel revival
The Hohenadel name has remained very much alive in the East Falls community, though.
Over the past year, it has been even further revived through the efforts of one passionate family and a pair of curious writers and historians.
In February, Felicite Moorman and her husband Sean Hawley, made settlement on the Hohenadel Mansion located at 3617 Indian Queen Lane.
The house, which had been left vacant for year, had fallen into a state of almost irreversible disrepair. Despite that condition, Moorman knew the Hohenadel House was her family’s destiny.
Acquiring a Federal Housing Administraion Loan, the family has set to work on an estimated $500,000 to $600,000 in renovations.
As the house has begun its journey toward transformation, Steve and Carolyn Fillmore — East Falls residents, writers and historians — have begun documenting every step of the process on their blog www.eastfallshouse.com.
“We had always been fascinated with the house and had our own pipe dreams and visions for it,” Carolyn Fillmore said. “So, when we found out what Felicite and Sean were doing with the home, we just had to get involved.”
It’s party time
Through research, investigation and a touch of humor, the Fillmores uncovered fascinating stories and secrets behind the Hohenadel Mansion, and breathed fresh life into its once crumbling walls.
And this month, with phase one of the Hohenadel House’s restoration coming to an end, the Fillmores, Moorman, Hawley and the East Falls Historical Society have decided to throw a community-wide celebration to honor the Hohenadel House’s past and to raise a glass to its future.
“Party Like It’s 1899” is the theme of the Oct. 18 throwback party that will take place on the Hohenadel House grounds.
The celebration will include period-appropriate staging and a performance by local legend Harry Prime, a pop-up museum by the East Falls Historical Society and period-appropriate food and beverages including a recreation of the Hohenadel German Lager.
To execute the beer project, Steve Fillmore called on award-winning homebrewer Tom Coughlin, who specializes in the brewing of historic lagers.
Using an adaptation of a recipe from a 1902 text called the “American Handy Book of the Brewing, Malting and Auxillary Trades,” the two set to work on a pilot batch this past summer. Three batches later, the end product is ready for consumption.
“Coughlin put a lot of work into the project,” Fillmore said. “And, as the date inches closer, we’re getting more and more excited to share such a great piece of history with the community. It’s going to be a fun night.”