Frederick Miller, Beer Baron

Frederick Edward John Miller

November 24, 1824, Riedlingen, Wurttemberg, Germany

May 11, 1888, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Many beers have slogans that are memorable—Schlitz with “The beer that made Milwaukee famous!”  Or Budweiser, “the King of Beers.” St. Pauli’s Girl, “You Never Forget Your First Girl!”  Sapporo, “Drink in the world.”  Hamm’s, “The Land of Sky Blue Waters.”

Beer companies were lucky to have ONE slogan that stuck in drinkers’ minds.  But Miller had several.  Who can forget the sound of a can being opened, then hearing the tag line, “It’s Miller Time!”  Or “If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer.” Or during the introduction of “lite” beers, “Everything you always wanted in a beer.  And less.”  But the one stuck on the label says it all, “The Champagne of Bottled Beers.”

The founder of the Miller Brewing company was a German-born brewer named Friedrich Eduard Johannes Müller —anglicized his name became Frederick Edward John Miller.  Miller was born in Riedlingen, a small city in southwest Germany.  Miller learned the brewing trade from his uncle.  In 1854, Miller moved with his wife, Josephine, and their son, Joseph.  The family moved to Milwaukee and Miller founded his iconic brewing company at the Plank Road Brewery which had been built by Jacob Best.  Miller proved to be a brewer of uncompromising quality which was a hallmark of the beer he brewed.

Only five years after the Miller family settled in Milwaukee, Josephine died.  None of their six children lived to adulthood which haunted him for the rest of his life.  Frederick did remarry.  He and his second wife, Lisette, had several children die in infancy and five children who lived to adulthood—Ernst, Emil, Frederick II, Clara, and Elise.

In 1888, Miller died of cancer.  His sons took over the business.  Frederick Miller is buried in the Calvary Cemetery at Milwaukee.  His gravestone is a tall ornamented light gray granite obelisk that rests on an ornate plinth with three bases.

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