Benwood

A Touch of Wheeling History with SEOdog, Benwood Brewing Co.

By Justin Seibert| 2 Min Read | November 8, 2010

SEOdog and I were taking one of our strategy walks along the Ohio River today when we came upon a brick building. Nothing too remarkable other than a hideous choice in paint.

Before you go any further, be aware this post has virtually nothing to do with search engine marketing – just some interesting information for people who care about Wheeling, WV, history, gold coins, or old breweries.

Well, being the curious type who likes to pee on new things he finds, SEOdog walked over to get a closer look at the cornerstone on the lower left:

Since you can’t see the date because of horrible lighting and my inadequate camera, SEOdog wanted to make sure you knew the building was over 100 years old.

Having never seen this beer down at Kroger or the incomparable (around here anyway) Cappelli’s, SEOdog decided to do a little Googling.  Fortunately, one good soul wrote up quite a bit about this now-defunct brewery.  Of note:

G.D. Ridenour was placed in charge of the plant during receivership, and immediately launched several innovative campaigns to promote the beer. Corks on the caps of their Cream Top brand were imprinted with letters. When the customer had enough caps to spell out the company name, they could redeem them for a $40 gift certificate at the brewery. The certificates were good at many stores in the Benwood-Wheeling area. Another gimmick used by Ridenour was to place $5 gold pieces in random bottles of Diamond Brew. [T]he ideas were good, but not enough to save the brewery.

Gold coins – that’s pretty smart, although pretty expensive.  A $5 gold piece – or half-eagle – would be worth over $100 today based on official inflation statistics.  (The coin itself, if preserved, would be worth much more than $100 as a collectible coin today.)  Perhaps that’s why the brewer only lasted seven years.

While we’re on the subject of beer and Wheeling, here’s another thing to ponder.  There were 20-some breweries in operation in the 1800s, making it a major brew-center of the United States at the time.  Today, none exist.

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