Marx Brewing Co. In Wyandotte, MI

While researching Monroe’s brewing history, one of the breweries that popped up was Marx Brewing Co even though it was located in Wyandotte, MI. It’s reach was at least as far as Monroe. How do I know this? That’s the cool part of the story.

I’m not sure on how many years ago, but my work(the Monroe Water Plant) was building a new structure on its property. Before the plant was built in early 1920s it used to be the city’s dump. When the ground was dug up so were some bottles. A co-worker saved one of the bottles and forgot about it. I spotted it one night and asked him if I could borrow it for a post. He told me to keep it. Now, I have a Marx Brewing Co bottle from circa 1914, give or take 5 years. Thank you Paul Merman.

Marx Brewing was founded by George Marx in 1863. It was located on the corner of Front( later named Van Alstyne Blvd.) and Oak Street. In 1884, George brought his brothers and his son Frank in on the business. Frank took over control of the brewery when his father George died in 1886. The business continued to boom and soon a beautiful dance hall was added with a view of the river and the Canadian shoreline. The brewery sold Export, Pilsner, and White Label brands. These were later replaced by Banner and Gold Star which became their staples. They also diversified their business by selling coal and ice.

Competition popped up right down the street when Eureka Brewing & Ice Co. opened up in 1890. They were located at Poplar and Front. Eureka lasted for twenty years and was beginning to fail when a merger was proposed by the Marx family. Charles Riopelle and Ferdinand Fickel joined Marx Brewery. Soon Riopelle became vice president which allowed Frank Marx to retire.

The brewery expanded operation in the 1910s. A 100-bottle-per-minute bottling plant and 200 barrel capacity kettle were all added during this time. The capacity of the plant was 50 thousand barrels but 25 thousand was more than likely the best pre-prohibition year they had.  Brewing operation ceased once prohibition was the law of the state. They tried brewing a non-alcohol beer named Marxie but it couldn’t compete with the beer bootlegged from Canada. They survived by selling ice.

By 1933 the nation’s feeling toward alcohol had turned around and Marx Brewing re-opened in November of 1933. Frank A. Marx, grandson of George Marx, was the only family member left at the brewery and served as vice president. In 1934, the brewery sold 43 thousand barrels of beer. A second shift and twenty trucks were added in 1935. A new ale (possibly in the hybrid category) was added to compete with lagers. However, all of this expansion did not lead to greater sales and by the end of 1935 sales had only increased by 500 barrels over the previous year.

Many of the breweries at this time dealt with a myriad of problems. The one that ultimately caused Marx to fail was that the owners were more interested in making money than brewing beer. Board room disagreements, finicial troubles and a violation of the Liquor Control Act were the source of a lot of their troubles. An attempt to raise capital by a stock issue failed. The brewery was sold. The new owners assumed the debt and changed the name to Wyandotte Brewing Co. They launched new brands named Nine Castle Ale and Bavarian Lager, but rumors abound that it was nothing but repackaged old beer. Only 8,900 barrels were sold in 1936 and the brewery was closed by the end of 1937. However, brewing did eventually return to Wyandotte. Today, you can get microbrewed beer at Sport’s Brewpub located on Maple and 2nd.  2008 marks their tenth year brewing beer.

The leasons learned form post prohibition breweries are still relavent today. Corporations that are in it for a money grab don’t earn respect of the craft beer drinker or their money. That is what the big breweries are for. If a microbrewery wants to thrive the beer must come first. For example, Shorts and The Livery are off the beaten path but they brew fantastic beer so people are willing to make the trip to go to their breweries. Soon, I will be able to go to my local store (hopefully) and Shorts will be on a shelf for me to buy for home use.

For more information on Marx Brewing Co. look for the book “Brewed In Detroit” by Peter H. Blum, the source for this post as well as a great source in general for a comprehensive history of brewing in the Detroit area.

31 thoughts on “Marx Brewing Co. In Wyandotte, MI

  1. I have several of those bottles I also have a clear glass bottle from Marx I have 2 btls from a Toledo brewery which has the line on the bottle free and pure of drugs and poisons the bottles are packed away so the name of the brewery is drawing a blank at the moment.

  2. I wonder if the one from Toledo was after Prohibition. They had an issue with some beer being bad at that time. Maybe it was a reaction to illegal low quality beer during Prohibition.
    Thank you for sharing that and when you get the chance you should get those out of storage. I enjoyed just looking at the craftsmanship of the bottle.

  3. Hi Everyone,

    The Marx Brewing Company was started in 1863 by my Great Grandfather and his brother. I found your article very interesting.

    I have a large collection of items from the brewery: Large serving tray, tip tray, two wooden bottle crates, many beer bottles, shoe brush, printed documents, street advertising sign, many labels, etc. During prohibition they sold “trinket and trash” also, one of them was the shoe brush with the brewery logo.

    All of my items I found and won on Ebay. Would like to chat with someone who has more info on the brewery or buy an additional items anyone may have. My email address is “sweeneytnc@aol.com”

    Just today I won another large bottle of Banner Beer with an almost perfect label. I’ve paid dearly for most of my items but how can one put a price on items from their family’s history.

    Have a great year!

  4. I was not aware that any of my Grandmothers family or decendants were still alive, my grandmother was Grace Marx, latter Grace Morrison after she married my Grandfather Ben, who owned the Packard agency in Wyandotte. I’d like to hear from Carol Sweeny.

  5. My wife and I bought a home in Trenton, MI that was built in 1895. In the attic we found a bottle (very pale green) from Marx Brewing Co. out of Wyandotte, MI. At the bottom of the bottle it says “this bottle registered and never sold.” As we were cleaning the attic my wife wanted me to throw it out, but I thought it was a cool bottle so I kept it. Just thought you all would find it interesting that I found a piece of your hertiage in my attic!

  6. We live in Camden MI on the IN/OH borders. My sister-in-law found a couple Marx Brewery barrels in her barn this past weekend. One full size barrel and one about half that size. Both in very good condition except the smaller one missing one of the metal bands. Both have the plug in the spouts as well.

    Sam Dunn

  7. Hi Kevin,

    Re the Marx Brewing barrels, are they on your site? If so, how do I get to your site. Thanks.

  8. Hi Sam Dunn,

    Do you still have the Marx Brewing barrels? I would be interested in buying them from you. I am a descendant of the Marx family. The brewery was owned by my grandfather and his brother.

    For more info, refer to my blog of Sept. 8, 2008.

    Please let me know if you would like to sell them

    Thanks.

    Carol Sweeney (Marx)

  9. i have a glass bottle much like the one in the pic above bout is green an filled with sand in a cork in tope not a scratch on it how much would somthing like that be worth????

  10. Hi ! Carol my name is tom I collect marx and eureka brewing co. item s I have cases, bottles, trays, labels…ect I would like to get together with you all my stuff is stored away I do not own the house I live in so I do not dispay it I have pictures of some of the items I have been collecting on the breweries for 30 years if you would like to meet I live in southgate mi. cell no. is 1-734-934-5664. Thanks Tom

  11. Hello Tom Philport. Would you be interested in selling any of your Marx or Eureka Brewing items. I live in Harrison township which is a long way from Southgate. Can you send me pics of some of your collection? sweeneytnc@aol.com.

    Thanks.

    Carol

  12. Hello all,

    I have just inherited 2x 100 share contracts dated JUN 01 1936, the last year of operation if i am correct. As this company as not been trading for the last 70 year perhaps some of these historical documents will be interesting to this board.

    email me at kirkjans@hotmail.com if you wish.

    kirk.

  13. I am a decendant of the Marx family as well. Carol Sweeney! as Robert Riddell( my 1st cousin) stated above; I didnt realize that there were any Marx family relatives other than our family around. I grew up and graduated from Trenton H.S. in 1969. Would love to hear from any and all “long lost relatives”

  14. I am a descendant of the Marx family as well. Well the Marxes from Marquette,Mi
    My gg grand father had a brewery there in the 1860s

    There are stories in my family that these two Marx families are related.
    I still have not found the link.

    I visited the Frank Marx house a few years ago.

    I have some Letter Head from the brewery

    My email is epmarx@aol.com

  15. I am also a descendant of the Marx family as well. Hey Eric (cousin). Does anyone know if the receipt for Marx beer still exist? I have the ability to brew a small batch and would be interested in tasting my GG grandfathers beer.

  16. Hi,Im the generation from the Marx Brewery. I have clear,Frank bottles,and some brown FRANK BEER BOTTLES,24 ALL TOGATHER,AND THEY ALL VERY, I also have a case that they put them in,wooden,pic of the assembley of caping and load ing the cases Im always looking for more Marx stuff, I had a sign from the historical house but it got stolen. Val Marx

  17. Hi, We recently bought a house in Willis Michigan that was purchased by one of the Marx brothers as a summer home in 1899. It has been added on to several times. Wondering if any family members have a picture of this house as it use to look as we are restoring it. Have stories from the older neighbors if anyone wants to hear them. Would like to hear from any family members. Don Waldrup

  18. Its funny how so many people with the last name of Marx believe they are related to the former Marx brewery family. The fact is, there are no decendants in the U.S., they are all in Germany. I guess everyone want to be decendants of a brewery empire? LOL My Grandmother, Grace Marie Marx (Morrison) was the last surviving Marx in the U.S. She died in 1967.

  19. My wife and I lived in a Marx home in Wyandotte from 1973-1994. The house was built by the Marx family, in 1926, located on Emmons Boulevard, in the north end of Wyandotte. Another Marx home is located on Biddle Avenue, downtown Wyandotte.

    Would like to hear from any surviving family members if they have any history on the home.

    Would like to hear more about the Marx Brewery history.

    Interesting.

    Thank you.

  20. Going thru my late ex-husbands stuff I found a Marx Brewing Company beer bottle he found in the dirt. This bottle is clear. I would like to know what year they used clear bottles.

  21. Hi. I am looking to buy one of the bottles from marx brothers or a whiskey barrel or anything. Just one item My nephew just bought his first home in Wyandotte and he asked me to find him something. Anyone want to sell? I’m in Allen park Michigan. Thank you! Annietime123@gmail.com

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