Monroe Man Opened First Brewery in Ypsilanti

I was researching Monroe brewing history when I came across a name in the 1860 census that I knew I heard of before. The name was from the book hermans-ad“Brewed in Detroit” by Peter H. Blum. In the book he tells the story of the first brewery in Ypsilanti and how it was started by a Monroe man.

I’m going to start from 1860 census. As you will see there are inaccuracies in the records that make you take leaps of assumptions. Here is a list of people who are registered as brewers in that census: Glanville Lamb, Fredreick Eisman, Mattis Hammond (could also be Hermann Mathis), John Diden or Deter, Richard Schneider (I have a story about him that I will post later), Michael Phelan, Charles Rubin and Jacob Grob. These brewers worked at either Hermann’s Brewery, Schneider’s Brewery or Monroe City Brewery. Schneider and Monroe City would actually be a brewery located on the same site and I am unsure of the name of that brewery would have been in 1860.

Jacob Grob lived in the first precinct as of 1851 when he came here from Wurttemberg Germany. Since he lived near Hermann’s Brewery it is most likely that he worked at that brewery. In 1861, Jacob left the brewery and moved to Ypsilanti. There he married Sophie Post. While Hermann’s Brewery became Wahl Brewery, Jacob went on to open his brewery named Grob. It was located according to “Brewed in Detroit” at his home on 4 Forest Avenue near the west end of the bridge. By 1864 he built the first ice house in Ypsilanti. In 1870, his home became both a brewery and a saloon (much like Rob is doing in his garage). The difference: Jacob made money doing it. He was up to 190 barrels a year by 1878 in what Pater Blum believes was a 4 to 5 barrel scale. He also speculates that it was “the sort of place where one drank draft, sent a child over to fill a pitcher for home consumption or ordered a keg for a group outing.”

He made an eventual shift from beer to ice due to the growth of Foerster’s brewery. Foerster’s brewery , located on 414 South Grove, had many names changes throughout the years. It was the big brewery in town and ran from 1870 to 1943 with a shut down during prohibition. 

Like I mentioned earlier, it was exciting to see a name in the Monroe census pop up in “Brewed in Detroit”. Thank you, Peter H. Blum for filling in the rest of the story of Jacob Grob. You left us one great read and an important part of Michigan history.

2 thoughts on “Monroe Man Opened First Brewery in Ypsilanti

  1. There is a building called the historic “old brewery building” at 306 N. River St. in Ypsilanti, built in 1860. Can you tell me anything about its history?

  2. Sorry, I can’t. I just did a quick look in Brewed in Detroit and I didn’t see anything on it. David Bardallis, the writer of Ann Arbor Beer, might be able to tell you. Thanks.

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