CONTINUING OSHKOSH’S BREWING TRADITION
In the mid-1800s, when Oshkosh was earning its reputation as “Sawdust City,” communities were bonded by the ideology of hard work and family. At the end of these long and laborious days in the sawmills, people would gather and celebrate a job well done by sharing a beer at their local watering hole. Oshkosh, at that time, had a number of growing breweries. One of those Oshkosh Breweries was located in the Fifth Ward district, where the campus of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh now sits. Aptly named Fifth Ward Brewery, the business was owned and operated by a young German immigrant named Christian Kaehler. Christian was known for brewing small quantities of quality beer in the traditional German style, that was intended to be enjoyed by those in the community who worked hard and deserved it. After 25 years of operation, the Fifth Ward Brewery poured its last batch of beer in 1882. This was considered the end of old-world brewing traditions in Oshkosh and gave way to more modern industrial processes and equipment.
Over a hundred and thirty years later, Ian Wenger and Zach Clark had no idea that they were homebrewing in the shadow of the original Fifth Ward Brewery that stood just blocks away from Clark’s college house. The two young home brewers and entrepreneurs from Oshkosh who shared a similar brewing mentality as Christian, and decided to start a brewery, bringing small-batch, quality beer back to those who share their same Midwest work ethic.
This isn’t to say that Fifth Ward Brewing Company is a reincarnation of the original, but we know that a sense of place is important for any business, and with that comes the history of the area. As an ode to our brewing predecessors, Fifth Ward Brewing continues the tradition of serving the best beer we possibly can while laying roots and writing the new history of the place we call home.
Although we don’t reside in the original Fifth Ward of Oshkosh anymore, we found ourselves on a section of South Main Street that is on the verge of a major revitalization effort. We are proud to be a part of that push to see central and downtown Oshkosh become better than it already is.
In a never-ending pursuit to develop new and creative beers, the Fifth Ward Brewing Company leads by example and demonstrates that good things come to those who earn it.