Call it beer nostalgia. What else would motivate home brewer Jeff Faith to spend hours researching and resurrecting the long-dormant Fehr’s Beer brand, last brewed at Jackson and Liberty in 1964?
Faith, an airplane mechanic and local musician, chose to learn the intricacies of trademark and patent law to acquire rights to the brand back in 2011. He then found a recipe and brewed a batch of beer that he claims is a very close relative to the liquid sold under the Fehr’s brand from 1872 to 1964. Of course, he’s followed closely the resurrection of other local brands, including Falls City, Oertel’s 92 and Sterling.
“I found my way to the patent office and trademark site,” he said. “I realized a few people had tried to get the rights and screwed up the process. I managed to acquire the rights, then i did a little more research and found the original recipe from the turn of the century.”
That process took a few years, but today beer fans are enjoying Faith’s Fehr’s XL at Akasha Brewing Co. in NuLu. Faith made a deal with the Akasha team — he would buy a tank to brew his Fehr’s in, and they would provide space and equipment. In December, Fehr’s started flowing from taps there. Faith said it’s been a big seller in its first few months.
“It’s a pre-Probition lager,” he said. “A hundred years ago, lagers had a lot more flavor. It’s made with barley from the upper midwest and about 30 percent rice, which was pretty common back at the turn of the century. They were trying to find ways to produce alcohol inexpensively and rice was pretty inexpensive at the time.”
In fact, he said the next batch of Fehr’s is going out for distribution to a select number of bars around town. Faith said he hopes to be able to start making and marketing Fehr’s in cans in the near future.
“When you put it in cans, you put it in a lot of people’s reach,” said Faith.
He said another part of the fun is finding artifacts and relics from the original Fehr’s, and actually making new items, like t-shirts, available for the beer’s fans.
Plus, there’s a slogan Faith recites, one that started out as an old drinking song in the 1880s. He says it fits the brand.
“It’s always Fehr weather when good fellows get together.”