Reading’s Oakbrook Brewing Co. is reviving a historic local beer brand.
Oakbrook announced recently that it is brewing beers that it will market under the Deppen brand. Deppen was a brewery that operated in Reading from 1879 to 1937.
“Reading has an incredibly rich and fascinating brewing history,” said Oakbrook owner and head brewer Kyle Neuheimer. “Our intent in reviving the Deppen Beer brand is to continue to shine a spotlight on that history, which is a huge asset to the city that has essentially sat dormant.”
The idea to revive Deppen started coming together about a year ago. Neuheimer, a self-professed history buff, said he came upon the Deppen story and started looking into it more.
About the same time, he started noticing a trend at Oakbrook where customers were ordering lighter and and more traditional beer styles.
“Not hop bombs,” he said. “Something a little more drinkable and approachable.”
Neuheimer brewed a few more of those styles, and soon he felt they were different enough from Oakbrook’s other beers that they needed to be differentiated in some way. He did some research to find out if anyone was using the Deppen brand and was eventually able to secure it.
“The brewery closed up in 1937 and was abandoned at that time,” he said. “There was no pursuit in using the brand, so we had to go through the steps to secure it, and that’s been done.”
Deppen Brewing Co. was formed when Dr. William Deppen took over operations of Reading’s Spring Garden Brewery at 10th and Chestnut streets in 1879. The brewery later moved to North Third Street.
The Deppen brewery changed hands several times and survived Prohibition before closing in 1937. A Deppen sign is still visible on the old brewery on the east side of North Third street, near Buttonwood Street.
The beers that will be sold under the Deppen brand are not actual historic recipes. Instead, Neuheimer said, they’re influenced by what he was able to find that Deppen was doing at the time based on its advertising.
By looking at old ads and old stories, Neuheimer said he was able to determine Deppen Canadian six-row barley and imported German hops.
“There weren’t many options at the time like there are today, so we have a pretty good idea what was going in those beers,” he said. “We do not have an actual historic recipe, and that’s actually kind of good because a lot of those historic recipes taste terrible by today’s standards. We used the base grains that they would have used, the adjuncts that they would have used, but we are using a more modern hop profile to make it something that consumers today would enjoy drinking.”
The first beer to be released under the Deppen brand will be a traditional cream ale brewed with Canadian six-row barley and contemporary hops. It will be sold only on draft throughout the Reading area.
Neuheimer plans to brew various styles under the Deppen brand, such as a porter and a bock.
“More traditional styles and things that maybe transcend the craft beer market, that’s really where we’re going with this,” he said. “We’re brewing these in a way that a craft beer drinker can enjoy them, but also something that reaches beyond people who consider themselves craft beer drinkers.”
Neuheimer will continue to brew Oakbrook’s beer, including favorites like Blood Orange IPA and Chupacabra Tears.
“This is just a different line of beers, and it’s being brewed with different ingredients and a different brewing style and marketed under the Deppen name,” he said.
Deppen is the second historic local beer brand to be revived this year. In June, Pottstown’s Sly Fox Brewing Co. revived Reading Premium Beer, which was last brewed locally by Reading Brewing Co. in 1976.
Contact Brad Rhen: 610-371-5047 or [email protected].