Detroit Beer & Brewing History with John W. Stroh III & James W. Tottis

Detroit Drunken Historical Society and WSU Press present Detroit Beer & Brewing History featuring a conversation with John W. Stroh III and James W. Tottis.

Join us at Detroit’s legendary Dakota Inn Rathskeller as John W. Stroh, III (CEO of The Stroh Companies, Inc.) leads us through the rich history of Detroit brewing in conversation with Detroit liquor historian James W. Tottis.

Detroit’s large-scale beer and brewing culture began in the 1830s and continued until 1985, when operations ended with the closing of the Stroh Brewery.  While Stroh Brewery had become Detroit’s largest by the turn of the century, during that 150-year stretch, dozens of breweries opened in the metropolitan area, and several thrived for generations.  From early Anglo-Saxon ale brewers to the present revival by microbrewers, Detroit’s brewing history features an impressive ethnic and economic diversity of entrepreneurial families experiencing fortunes and failures throughout the years while contributing to an impressive culture of brewing that continues today.


About the speakers:

John W. Stroh III has been the chairman and chief executive officer of The Stroh Companies, Inc. since May 1999. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of The Stroh Companies, Inc. and its subsidiary SBC Holdings, Inc. (the former The Stroh Brewery Company) since 1989. The Stroh Companies owns the office building known as 300 River Place in Detroit along with several other operating and financial investments.  Involved in various civic activities, Mr. Stroh is a founding director of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and also serves as director of the Detroit Downtown Partnership and the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition. Mr. Stroh is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Detroit Institute of Arts and serves as vice-chairman and member of the Audit and Building Committees. He has formerly served on the boards of SRAM Corporation of Chicago, the Rock Island Company of St Paul, MN, and River Place Financial Corporation of Detroit.

James W. Tottis, formerly a curator in the Department of American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, is currently an independent curator advising individuals and institutions on subjects related to American art. He is also the author of The Guardian Building: Cathedral of Finance (WSUP, 2008).


About the presenting organizations:

Wayne State University Press is the publisher of Brewed in Detroit: Breweries and Beers since 1830 (1999) by Peter H. Blum, the only comprehensive history of the brewing industry in the Detroit metropolitan area.  Now in its third printing, Brewed in Detroit continues to inform local beer enthusiasts, collectors, and history buffs.  Books will be available for purchase the night of the event.More info: http://wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/brewed-detroit

The Detroit Drunken Historical Society is a social group that meets to drink and talk. Then they listen to a local history presentation. And then they drink and talk some more. Teetotalers are also encouraged to join.  More info: http://www.meetup.com/Detroit-Drunken-Historical-Society

About the venue:

The Dakota Inn Rathskeller was opened on August 1, 1933 by Karl Kurz, the grandfather of Karl E. Kurz, the present owner.  Eighty years later, Detroit’s only authentic German bar is still going strong.More info: http://www.dakota-inn.com/

Thursday, January 30th 20147pm – 8:00pm at Dakota Inn Rathskeller 17324 John R. Street Detroit, Michigan[masked] 
No cover

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  • Kathy Mouzakis H.

    Thank you. Greet video capture of such a cool event.

    February 6

  • Gabe G.

    http://wdet.org/news/story/hist...­

    Link to full video of the Detroit Beer & Brewing History presentation. Courtesy of WDET.

    February 6

    • pandamans

      nice, thanks wdet. now i just need some more dunkel.

      2 · February 6

    • Jennifer

      We should have a "re" viewing party!

      3 · February 6

  • Pamela R.

    Granted there were many unexpected occurrences that occurred that caused reservation nightmares for the organizers. However, these were beyond the cont

    February 2

  • Maureen H.

    Really enjoyed this event and was pleased to see the fantastic turnout. Loved the location, the topic and the speakers were witty, and had the advantage of adding a personal view to this informative, interesting talk.

    February 1

  • Mary G.

    I arrived at 4:55. At that time they were trying to mix reservations made at the Dakota with DDHS RSVP's! My friend and I had great seats and were joined by 4 other people. It was a great event. John and Jim were far more entertaining than I thought they would be. Humor and knowledge mixed throughout the 'lecture' is the way to go!! The venue was great because of the topic. I do understand the complaints about overcrowding and the miscommunication about reservations. DDHS has great events-I hope others will try different topics and not shy away because this event attracted a TON of media coverage!!

    3 · January 31

    • Karen De C.

      Keep repeating what Mary said. John and Jim were FANTASTIC.

      2 · February 1

  • Donna

    Chuck and Carol, I got there a hour early and was one of the last ones seated. I did not see either of you and I even walked around a few times. I had no problems hearing except when other people were talking. Dakota Inn is great, the poor waitresses though as the place was overcrowded. I think another larger venue was necessary for this one. I called to make reservations a day earlier and they told me they were not taking them and just sitting guests as they arrived. Had a great time with the people at my table.

    1 · January 31

    • Carol

      I saw you come in...I was getting a drink at the bar. Could not find you after that. Some employee directed us to the side room and refused us to go in the main room. I thought maybe you had a reservation.

      January 31

    • Kevin C.

      Carol and I arrived at 5:45, an hour and 15 minutes early. So you can't blame our experience on not arriving early enough. The host (manager) would not even let us enter the main area since we didn't have a reservation. Sounds like we could have tried to grab some empty table space, but he wouldn't even let us in to try. We were forced into the side area behind the bar. How some people got better seats without reservations is puzzling.

      January 31

  • Carol

    I think that since the venue had a limit of 145 people, the number should have been limited to that or 10% above to reflect no shows. I got there at 5:50 and there were no tables. I wish I knew I could have made a reservation direct with Dakota Inn vs. being put in a side room with no available tables - it seems the main room was reserved for those who had a reservation outside of the DDHS meet up group. Unfortunately, I could hear nothing so I can't tell you if it was good or not. For my first event, I was disappointed and left early. As a side note, I shared a table with 2 other parties (total of 7 of us with all 3 'groups') and it was great to talk with my tablemates. I will cautiously try another event as I love this concept.

    January 31

  • Pamela R.

    The speakers were great and the venue was a perfect fit for the topic. I had a meetup reservation. As I knew the location and watched the reservation list grow, I made the decision to arrive early to eat. I was somewhat embarrassed that I didn't think to make a reservation for dinner, but the staff indicated that there were a few seats left. Mind you my date and I were the first to arrive. I have attended many of the DDHS events since the groups inception and have never been disappointed. Things seemed to get out of hand with all of the media attention that this particular event received. Let's face it, our meet ups do not receive television attention (WDIV-in the D), the Detroit News and various radio outlets mentioning. We were sitting in the back and heard pretty well. The question and answers were not the easiest because of audience chatter. All in all we were pleased with the event. Fortunately for us, we were aware of the unusual media attention and were able to arrange our schedule accordingly.

    January 31

    • Shawn M. B.

      Thanks for sharing your table with us! :-)

      1 · January 31

  • Stacy

    Thanks for organizing! We got there early (as recommended) and had great seats in the side rooms. Both John and James were very engaging and I loved their banter as they told great stories.

    2 · January 31

  • Chuck

    Hi all. I had a great time but then I got there an hour early and had a good seat. Sorry for those that couldn't hear. When the speakers started, somone in the back actually asked them to turn down the volume. That was an unfortunate direction that the speakers obliged. I always enjoy the Dakota Inn. the service was not up to normal however, that was understanable with the number of people.

    January 31

    • Brandon L.

      The reason the speaker had to be turned down was because it would pop into high volume and every so often, it really hurt the ears. I would have left almost right away if the speaker volume was not turned down.

      January 31

  • Brian M.

    We're looking for your help to learn from last night's event, especially with respect to RSVPs and number of attendees. If you have a few minutes, please answer this 6-question survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/R...­

    1 · January 31

  • Linda

    Great speakers and perfect venue to be discussing the topic. Great people.

    1 · January 31

  • A former member
    A former member

    Too many people in a small space - arrived after 6:30 - poor sound at the beginning - but did get a little better - we were stood near the bar

    January 31

  • Kathy

    Very disappointed. I had a confirmed reservation and only to find it didn't matter. May I suggest that in the future only confirm for the number of available seats and take printed confirmation emails at the door Or simply say first come first in. Stay at the door and don't let extras in because as you saw last night too many people ruined the event.

    January 31

  • joseph c b.

    went there early still could not get in way to many people it was overbooked

    January 31

  • Linda

    Very disappointing, couldn't hear a thing.

    January 30

    • Greg

      Fortunately, I arrived before 6, found a 6 top table center stage with an empty seat, intro'd myself and sat down. Carl, the owner, made an adjustment with another party so the seating worked out in my case. The sound was excellent, as was the presentation by John and James, My new friends at the table made the evening that much more enjoyable. I thank the organizers and the presenters for their efforts.

      1 · January 31

    • Ron D.

      I was standing 15 feet away in the aisle across from the bar with a pole at my back. The sound wasn't the problem. It was over capacity. The overflow prevented people who had been there for hours to get a good seat only to have their view blocked. I registered immediately when I received the email. Registration unfortunely is the only solution, but how does one do that in a public envirement. At least state a mandatory cut off for attendence based on the seating capacity of the establishment and add a buffer for cancellations. Let people use the honor system.

      January 31

  • Brian M.

    Our venue is full. If you are not here now, unfortunately there will not be room for you.

    January 30

    • Kevin C.

      Brian, thanks for asking. It would have helped greatly to have a speaker (the electronic, not the human kind) in the area behind the bar. What seemed to happen was that since people couldn't hear (or see) the speakers, they started talking, which made the situation worse.

      January 31

    • Kevin C.

      Also, knowing we could have (and should have) made a dinner reservation would have helped, since then we could have been in the main area.

      January 31

  • A former member
    A former member

    Could not hear more than 1 out of 3 words. Got to the venue at about 6:20 and it was already to packed to move. We were around the far right side of the bar by the restrooms. Also, people talking during the presentation did not help the situation. Overal the Dakota was good, the bartenders did their best to keep up, and the group was great.

    January 31

  • Kevin C.

    We arrived at 5:45 only to find that we needed to reserve a table to sit in the main area. The only space left was in the area behind the bar. I couldn't hear what the speakers were saying. Apparently neither could anyone else; after a while, conversations started all around us and we threw in the towel and left. Very disappointed.

    January 31

  • Laura L.

    The speakers were great but since we were in the back we couldn't hear much. (That's why it gets a 3) Looking forward to the video.

    January 31

  • Nancy G.

    the talk was very informative. It could have gone on longer and it would have been ok. Lot's of history lots to learn. It was crowed at the bar and toward the end people started taking over the presenters.

    January 31

  • John

    Emergency came up

    January 30

  • LewIs

    Excited

    January 30

  • Shannon

    I was originally signed up for just me- can I bring a friend?

    January 30

  • Kim

    I just had something come up so I can't make it down :( Sorry for the late notice. Hope someone on the wait list can take my place. Have fun!

    January 30

  • joseph c b.

    will they be seving food at the rathskeller

    January 30

  • Donna

    I'm still a firm yes, really looking forward to this!

    January 30

  • A former member
    A former member

    There are many cancelation. So is there any way wait list can go directly.

    January 30

  • Brian M.

    Today's Detroit News has an article about our upcoming event and our group http://www.detroitnews.com/arti...­

    thanks to Gabe Gloden for making the News story happen.

    1 · January 27

    • Shawn M. B.

      Barbara-I have been trying to add 1. I can't. Would you mind if used your name for my friend CC who was not able to get an RSVP?

      January 30

    • Brian M.

      Barbara, I sent you an email about this a few minutes ago.

      January 30

  • Brad W.

    1 · January 30

  • Brian M.

    Thanks to some awesome volunteers, there's a chance we will live stream Thursday's event online. If it happens, the video feed will be available here:

    http://www.ustream.tv/channel/w...­

    There's an even higher chance that we will have a video of the event posted to YouTube a few weeks afterwards.

    2 · January 29

    • Craig R.

      Absolutely GREAT!!!! I'd get some brats and kraut, pipe the YouTube feed to my big LCD-HDTV and sit back to enjoy pretending having been there. Now if I could just get me a six-pack of Stroh's ....

      2 · January 30

  • Dan H.

    Have a work-related conflict. I hope the next on the waiting list is able to attend. Cheers!

    January 29

  • A former member
    A former member

    Baby sitter canceled when I called to confirm :-( I hope I can join next time.

    January 29

  • A former member
    A former member

    Not going , hope someone has fun!!

    January 29

  • Emily

    Sorry to miss it, I hope someone on the wait list can go!

    January 29

  • Kathleen C.

    Perfect! ...thanks for wait list opening

    January 28

  • Mike U.

    I'm really looking forward to the event. Since this is my first do I just show up and sit at a table?

    January 28

    • Mary G.

      Yep! They are fun. DDHS is a fun group and the events are entertaining!

      January 28

  • Karen De C.

    Am I not allowed to bring someone because this is sold out?

    January 28

  • Adrienne

    What is the capacity of the Dakota Inn? I'm worried that it will be too full for me to hear and see what is going on.

    January 28

    • Brad W.

      But you have 300 attendees on the list & countless others on the wait list. I'm tryin' to do the math but running out of fingers & toes to count on :-)

      1 · January 28

    • Brian M.

      We've learned that no matter how many reminders we send for our fellow drinker-historians to update their RSVPs that we get between 30-50% no-shows, depending on the weather. It's not a perfect science, but we think we have the right size attendee/waiting list for the venue and the likelihood of polar vortices.

      3 · January 28

  • Craig R.

    I've changed my RSVP as my daytime activities on Thursday would likely delay my getting to the Rathskeller until sometime after 7pm and I'd hate to think some people were left out in the cold due to my tardiness.
    Miss the old place - used to work conveniently just down the street from their location and still recall many happy times there.

    1 · January 25, 2014

  • Erika

    Detroit Brew and Beer history will be my first meet up and I am so looking forward to it! I grew up in Detroit and still love it. Looking at the photos of past excursions I am so sorry I have missed all the fun!

    January 25, 2014

  • Kathy Mouzakis H.

    Hey Peter koenig.found this photo online! Any relation to family history??

    1 · January 24, 2014

    • Peter K.

      Thanks Kathy. That is a photo of the Peter J. Koenig which was used as a sand dredge for the family company to make concrete from[masked]

      1 · January 24, 2014

  • Peter K.

    I would very much like to attend this event. My great, great grandfather owned the Phoenix Brewing Company from[masked] at Gratiot and Russell Street as a side venture to his Coal & Wood business which is one of the oldest remaining Detroit companies.

    2 · January 23, 2014

    • Peter K.

      @ Craig, yes the family business is Koenig Fuel & Supply. Back then it was Koenig Coal & Wood at Gratiot & Jay St.

      January 24, 2014

    • Peter K.

      @ Gabe. I would love to join in the conversation. I am currently on the waiting list to attend as it appears to be sold out.

      January 24, 2014

  • Kathy Mouzakis H.

    Please let me come!

    January 20, 2014

  • Kathy Mouzakis H.

    Please let me come!

    January 20, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    How does one disenroll when NOT interested?

    December 26, 2013

    • Jim

      Go to YOUR account .. on the drop down menue look at email and notifications. find the group and leave it.

      1 · January 17, 2014

    • Jim

      Good luck

      January 17, 2014

  • Robert K.

    I used to work with James Tottis at the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1990's when he was curator of American art. Great guy. If I was in town would love to see this. Have fun!

    2 · December 22, 2013

  • John

    This sounds like a blast!!

    December 8, 2013

  • Tim R.

    Stroh's is Shorts spelled backwards - two great Michigan brewers

    4 · December 7, 2013

  • Greg

    oops... wrong night. The Stroh night is Jan 30. Like I said, everything you read on the internet has gotta be true -)

    1 · December 5, 2013

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