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Hops hip again

August 2, 2014

Brownsville was best known in earliest times for its wine maker, Sam Herring,  and wine merchant, Ebenezer Brown.  Later, beer was dispensed at local hotels which included Punch’s Brownsville Hotel, where Michael R Barry tended bar, Katie George’s Surrey Hotel or  Johnnie Wise’s Clarington Hotel – the Blue Mouse in latter days.  While the Brownsville flats could grow almost anything, and better than any place, it does not appear that anyone here was growing hops for beer.

E Brown Wine, Spirits. . .and beer

1871 03 18 E Brown Wine & SpiritEbenezer Brown was the first supplier of wine for New Westminster’s Holy Trinity Anglican church communion table and was the mainland’s best-known wine merchant and saloon-keeper, serving customers on Columbia Street, New Westminster and on Water Street at Granville on Burrard Inlet.
Ebenezer Brown jug





As saloon keeper of  the Liverpool Arms Brown sold a lot of grog off-licence.  One of his stoneware jugs is now in the New Westminster Museum.



SW Herring pioneer of wine industry in BC

Herring's black currant wine label, 1870Samuel W Herring was the first to produce wine commercially on the Mainland. 

At the Victoria exhibition of 1870 Sam Herring came over from his ranch on the Fraser River opposite Sapperton and cleaned up on first prizes, including one for best wine.

"The immortal Herring, of New Westminster, had a crowd around him tasting his wines, — and everybody was surprised that such good wine as he exhibited could be made from currants."




1870 12 28 Herring's currant wine adHerring’s Red Currant Wine and Herring’s Black Currant Wine was sold in Victoria and down the coast into Washington Territory.



Mud Bay and Brownsville farmer John W Stein once supplied wine to the municipal council table at Cloverdale — rhubarb wine.

The brew-masters of Hall’s Prairie

Pendola coffee roaster Barkerville BCOf hop growing, we have nothing at hand relating to Brownsville. However in earlier posts we noted the presence of two of the province’s most famous beer-makers at Hall’s Prairie. 

(See Map of Property Owners, 1880).  

Did these early land owners have barley or hop-growing in mind?

August Pendola, of coffee-roaster of Barkerville fame, and later beer-maker at Savona, took up land there. 


1884 11 05 Riesterer City Brewery Lager BeerAlso present was Robert Riesterer, who took over the City Brewery in New Westminster in 1884 and renamed it the Mainland Brewery.

After a fire in 1886 left his business in ashes, Riesterer established at Vancouver, locating a brewery at 10th Avenue and Ontario Street. 

Riesterer - Mainland Brewery - False Creek - 1888 advertRiesterer later moved on to Kootenays, founding the Nelson Brewery, still ongoing. View Riesterer headstone and biography at Nelson cemetery.

Broe’s pioneer industry

In the previous post we referred to John Lars Broe as the first hop-grower in BC.  That should have read the Fraser Valley, as there were attempts to grow hops commercially on Vancouver Island as early as the 1860’s.

Broe hop kilnJohn Broe had begun raising hops with stock from Puyallup WA in 1884, on his homestead at the northwest quarter of section 1 in township 11, east of the Coast Meridian.

For those interested in hop production there is a photo of Broe’s hop drying kiln at the Langley Centennial Museum, with some additional information, and a better version of the photo is at the BC Archives

Broe’s name appeared sometimes in the Lynden press, which was not to far from his homestead — a half-mile from the Aldergrove border crossing.

After 15 years at Aldergrove, Broe was forced to give up his farm —  "mortgage company closed on me"  he declared, —  and he took up a second homestead at Yarrow where he cultivated fruit trees and walnuts.

In 1933 John Broe’s wife Serena Broe, who was born in Ossian, Iowa, related in a Vancouver Province newspaper article her experiences homesteading in Dakota, travelling by covered wagon to Oregon and northward, finally crossing the Nooksack River by canoe to take up property just north of the border.

John L Broe, born 1858,  died in 1923 at Chilliwack. His wife Serena, born 1864, lived until the age of 93, passing away in 1960 at Vancouver, where she had resided more than 30 years.

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