Pt. 3: Repeal and World
Some rumors suggest that the Post-Prohibition Pfeiffer Brewing Co. was run by elements of the Detroit Mafia including "Black Tony Toco." While most people dispute this, it is likely that at least some breweries were unable to survive through Prohibition and World War II by "conventional means." Alfred Epstein helped reshape Pfeiffer into one of the Midwest's most popular brands. Rumor has it that even though Alfred Esptein was one of the younger family members, he was the only one to escape a run-in with police while moving goods over the Detroit River during Prohibition (he was very young during this incident.) Because law states that no person with a federal criminal record can run a brewery, Alfred Epstein was chosen to control the Pfeiffer Brewing Co. This marked one of the rare instances when a brewery was run by a Jewish family. This is only based on oral history and was mostly likely started as a result of anti-Semitic attitudes of the day.
The City of Detroit renumbered many of its streets during the late teens and
early 1920's. Because of this, the area occupied by the Pfeiffer Brewing Company
was now referred to as the 3700
block of Bellevue Ave. After extensive post-Prohibition construction and
expansion, the Pfeiffer Brewing Co. now occupied nearly the entire block.
included the brewery
itself, a brewhouse, office space, truck-bays and the usual brewery extras.
comprised of red brick walls reaching three stories tall with cement accents at
the peaks. In the 1940's, a bottling facility and office building were
built. The northwest corner housed the bottling facility and had large windows and walkways
connected some of the separate buildings. This structure still stands today with
"Pfeiffer Brewing Company" in large yellow letters written on the
side. The block has been divided into several sections with a bus repair shop
shipping company each using sections of the former Pfeiffer
Brewing Company. The large "castle" building that has adorned
the Pfeiffer Famous Beer bottles until the 1990's has been demolished. The
office building has been torn down and all that stands of the C. Pfeiffer
Brewing Co. is the stables with a small adjoining office area. That
building is now used by a pallet shop.
What is known about Alfred Epstein is that he did an excellent job managing the company and secured funds through a stock offering allowing the company to expand. To this day, many people admire the dedication and ethics with which he lived by. In 1935, Alfred Epstein was appointed president of the Pfeiffer Brewing Company. The rest of the management team contributed heavily to the success of the Pfeiffer Brewing Company. The vice-president during this time, M. J. Boyd, was a former F.B.I. agent that served under J. Edgar Hoover and was the arresting officer of Bruno Haupmann of Lindberg kidnapping fame. The secretary and treasurer, Gilbert "Gil" Delaney, was also a major factor in the company's financial performance. The company became involved in an extensive marketing campaing centered around their maskot Johnny Fifer. Johnny was designed by none other than the Walt Disney studios. Pfeiffer had their own late night radio show as well as their own blimp and professional bowling team. The bowling team was headed by the hall-of-famer Don Carter. Their "home alley" was owned by Fred Wolfe of WXYZ fame, who also bowled for the team. Advertisements could also be found on billboards, trolleys and buses. One of the largest billboards stood for many years in Grand Circus Park in Detroit.