JOHN GRAF SR.: GRANDPA GRAF'S ROOT BEER
John Graf Sr. was born in Milwaukee, Wis. on February 27, 1853. John got is start by working for Hickey & Sons Soda Water Manufactures. This company was located between Broadway and Market Street. By 1871 he relocated to Decorah, Iowa. Here he went to work for Fred Hencge, who also was a soda water manufacturer. He stayed in Decorah for six months and then returned back to Milwaukee to work for Carl Kunchel until 1873. The same year he would form a partnership with Phillip Madlener. They called the company Graf & Madlener manufacturers of soda water (Weiss Beer Brewery).
The company produced a variety of different flavor soft drinks. They were located on Elizabeth Street at the corner of Grove Street. The company stayed at this location until 1877.
Below is a photo of John Graf.
From 1877 to 1883 the company was located at 530 National Ave. The brewery went by the name South Side White Beer Brewery. Sometime in 1883 John Graf became the sole owner of the company. The company now was called the John Graf South Side White Beer Brewery and was located at 2201 West Greenfield St.
In 1913 the company would incorporate and was called the John Graf Co.
John would pass away on May 16 1930. His son would take over the company with his sister Sylvia Graf as president of the firm. Sylvia would pass away in 1963. John Graf Sr. grand son Lawrie would take over the company. Under his leadership the company became national known for its Grandpas Graf's Root Beer.
The original root beer was called Graf's Root Beer. John Graf's grandson Lawrie changed the name to Grandpa Graf's Root Beer.
Lawrie Graf sold the company to P & V Atlas Industrial center in 1968. This firm would sell the company to the Canada Dry Company who would sell it to the Canfield Company in 1984. The company is still producing Grandpa Graf's Root Beer.
John Graf & Phillip Madlener. Weiss Beer Brewery. 1874-1877.
Graf & Madlener, South Side White Beer Brewery (530 National Ave.) 1877-1883.
John Graf, South Side White Beer Brewery. 1883 - 1884
John Graf 1884 - 1913.
John Graf Co. 1913 - 1920.
Below are photos of some John Graf bottles.
Bottles embossed with John Graf & P. H. Madlener Milwaukee, Wis. are very rare.
Below are just some of the beer cans and crown top bottles for Grandpa Graf's Root Beer.
History of Milwaukee.
Frank & Frank Jr. (Wicker) Bottle Collection.