the hammer family

The Legacy of Hammer Beer

Born 1806 – 3rd Great Grandfather – Zacharias Egger – Muhlehorn, Switzerland (Swiss German)
Although his full time profession was an engineer, Zacharias was secretly knows as a great distiller, wine and beer maker. He had a passion and lust for life. He developed strong beer and wine for close family members and friends. Originally this was done merely as a hobby and for his enjoyment. Eventually his recipes gained the admiration of local community members. After the death of his beloved young wife, Elsbeth, Zacharias and his 2 sons immigrated to the United States, arriving in New York in 1856 aboard the ship “Atalanta”. Out of necessity, the family brews beer and wine and sells it to make a living.

Born 1842 – 2nd Great Grandfather – Jacob Egger – Muhlehorn, Switzerland (Swiss German)
In 1858 at the age of 16, the youngest son of Zacharias, Jacob, quickly develops the passion for brewing and learns the craft. Using the recipes from his father, Jacob now takes over the responsibility and family tradition of brewing beer. Using new techniques, he boils the mash longer than normal developing a unique flavor. Young, stubborn and ignorant of his father’s methods, he mashes the grains and material for so long and at such a high temperature that when finished he actually needed a hammer to remove the mash out of the boiling vessel. The bottom and sides of the kettle are so charred and dented that family and friends start calling the beverage “Hammer drink”. The term “Hammer” is now used to refer to him and his process as a nickname. “HAMMER” beer is sold to local townships.
01/08/1862 – Jacob Egger enlists in the Civil War fighting for the Union in Company “G”. Within 6 months of his enlistment he is wounded and returns home to recuperate and recover.
03/11/1864 – Jacob, still stubborn, reenlists in the Civil War.

07/22/1864 – Jacob Egger was listed as MIA and eventually taken prisoner in Atlanta, Georgia by the Confederate Army. What kept him alive and in good comfort was his ability to make strong “HAMMER” beer for the thirsty Confederates. The term get “Hammered” originates because beer provided comfort over the miserable conditions.

Born 1871 – Great Grandfather – Henry Egger, Sr. – Casey, Iowa, United States
The son of Jacob Egger, he continues to make beer, wine and now gin. He follows the methods similar to that of his father, but without the “hammering” of the pot because he used a copper kettle with lower temperatures. Still the family tradition and the name “HAMMER” is used to describe the feeling you get when you drink “HAMMER” alcohol. The term “Hammer Time” is used to describe the actual brewing and distilling process in front of the children and other people.
Henry would be asked by his wife, Hannah, “Where are you off to?” He simply replied that it was “Hammer Time”, meaning that he had work to do.

Born 1905 – Grandfather – John Clifford Egger – Casey, Iowa, United States
Now a farmer by trade, John Egger still carries on the tradition of brewing. This fact is kept very quiet during the prohibition era. He still produces beer and gin in small batches to make a little extra money to keep the family comfortable.
05/15/1944 – John Egger was struck by lightning and killed. He was 39. During a spring storm he went out to shut the “Barn” door and when he grabbed the large iron handles he was struck by the lightning. My father and grandmother watched in horror from the kitchen window.

Born 1937 – Father – Richard (Egger) Juels – Casey, Iowa, United States
Years after the death of his father, his mother remarries and takes her new husband’s name. Richard and his siblings are adopted by the new “father” and their surname becomes Juels. Richard and his 3 brothers and sister continue the farm and work hard to keep things rolling. The term “HAMMER” is still used, but it is now more commonly referred to as hard work and/or being exhausted. Support of the family is provided by a “HAMMER” in hand, hard work and dedication to family, craftsmanship and the American way of life. Richard served in the United States Navy “Construction Battalion”. A “HAMMER” in hand is an everyday way of life. Along with stubbornness, Richard instilled a strong work ethic and the “you can do anything as long as you work hard” attitude in his family. Eventually Richard and his family returns to his farming roots, this time in Staples, Minnesota.

Born 1969 – Gary Juels – Fremont, California, United States
After completing high school at the age of 17, I left the farm and joined the Marine Corps. By the age of 24 I had traveled the world 2 times and serves during “Desert Storm”.
As a youngster I remember my father coming home from work and helping him take off his boots. He was physically exhausted from construction work. He would be covered from head to toe with sweat, dirt and whatever material he was using that day. He never ate the snack from his lunch box that my mother packed for him and he told me I could have it if I helped him get his boots off first. I would grab the heel and toe of the first boot with both my hands and he would put his other foot on my chest and push. I would fall backwards on my butt when the boot finally gave way. Then we would repeat the process with the other boot. As I would grab for the lunch box to get my treat he would tell me to “Wait, grab me a beer first”. I would eagerly run as fast as I could to get one for him.
At a very young age I developed an interest and passion for beer, possibly for the same reason as my 2nd Great Grandfather, Jacob. I started home brewing at the age of 25 for the simple reason of saving money. When I was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1994 I, too, started working in construction. I realized that beer was part of my heritage, tradition and history…..something I could not let go of. I could not let go of the “HAMMER”.

2007 – Attended U.C. Davis Brewers Course

2008 – The recipes of “HAMMER” beer begins again. “HAMMER” beer is not just about my life. “HAMMER” beer represents the history of most people in the United States and what can be created with drive, passion and ingenuity. “HAMMER” beer is something to be proud of; it’s not lazy, nor does it have its hand out waiting for charity. “HAMMER” beer is strong and makes life pay what is expected of it. “HAMMER” beer is the feeling we get when we have worked as hard and as long as we possibly could endure and not once saying “I can’t” or “It’s too hard” or “It’s too hot”.
At the end of the day if you have nothing left and you can barely get your boots off, THEN and only then should you even think about grabbing a “HAMMER”.

American history, American heritage and an American way of life since 1858.