Beer Barons & Ice Sailing – The Ruppert Brewery of NY

Oshkosh ice sailor Rosie McDonald getting ready to tap a Fauerbach beer on Lake Monona c 1955. Note the Fauerbach Brewery in the background. Photo: Carl Bernard slide collection.

Vassar Brewery, Iceboating’s First Iceboat Bar
Fauerbach Brewery Archives

After a day pulling sheet, there’s nothing quite like the camaraderie of fellow iceboaters reliving the day’s races over a cold dipper.

In 19th and 20th-century America, a unique correlation emerged among a specific industry – second-generation German beer brewers who had a passion for sports, all things fast, and ice sailing.

Besides the Vassar Brewery in New York (which had English roots), Pabst* in Milwaukee, and Madison’s favorite Fauerbach Brewery, Henry Bossett told me about another famous brewer who loved ice sailing: New York brewer George Ruppert. Furthermore, Jacob, George’s brother, owned the New York Yankees and famously signed Babe Ruth in 1919. In addition to being Vice President of the Yankees and president of the Ruppert Brewery, George was an active officer of New Jersey’s North Shrewsbury Iceboat and Yacht Club. In 1938, he organized a meeting at the brewery where 170 ice sailors attended and formed the Eastern Ice Yachting Association.

The newspapers of the time are full of stories about George and his fast, stern-steerer, PIRATE. In 1938, he jumped on the Skeeter bandwagon, one of the first in the East to acquire a front-steering iceboat from the Midwest, THE DARE. (See Skeeter Summit for Skeeter history.)

I couldn’t find any photos of PIRATE or THE DARE, but Brian Reid’s invaluable “White Wings and Black Ice” has pictures of another of Ruppert’s stern-steerers, DASH. In place of a picture of PIRATE, we’ll use a photo of Rosie McDonald getting ready for a cold dipper of Fauerbach beer on Lake Monona with the brewery in the background to represent the connection between breweries and ice sailing.

Learn More:
Jacob Ruppert’s Brewery
A Tour of the Ruppert Brewery in 1939
Jacob Ruppert Wikipedia Page
North Shrewsbury Iceboat & Yacht Club

*Soon to come, a post about the Pabst family and ice sailing.