Hausmann’s Capital Brewery

Hausmann Brewery Trademark

Hausmann Brewery Trademark

In the early days of Madison, Hausmann’s Capital Brewery served beer and free lunch at the site of their brewery on the corner of State and Gorham streets.  Their operation was quite successful. By the 1880s, the brewery was producing 8,000 barrels of beer per year, and just prior to Prohibition, this reached an astonishing 35,000 barrels per year — that’s about 1 million gallons!

In 1907, local temperance laws were enacted in Madison to protect the public, and more precisely, the University of Wisconsin students, from the evil effects of alcohol. A dry zone of a half-mile was created around the UW campus, but luckily the zone fell just short of the Hausmann’s brewery. Even in the depths of winter, the students ventured out of the dry zone to enjoy five cent beers and free sandwiches at Hausmann’s.

Joseph Hausmann, the owner, and his family lived in a home adjacent to the the back of the brewery property. Sadly, on November 9, 1902, during the peak of his brewery’s success, Mr. Hausmann died at his home after a lingering illness. After his death, many brewery workers reported seeing the old brew master trotting his draught horses to and from the barns.

In 1917, alcohol sales were banned throughout the entire city, and in the 1920s, the national prohibition banned sales throughout the country. During this period, Hausmann’s continued to serve food and near-beer and other nonalcoholic beverages. It was at this point that patrons reported  seeing glimpses of old Mr. Hausmann stacking near-beer empties behind the bar.  Mr. Hausmann bore a very noticeable scar on his cheek from an old saber sword wound, and people were convinced that it was his ghost that haunted the old saloon.

In 1923 the old Hausmann building at the corner of State and Gorham was destroyed by fire. The old mahogony bar was rescued and moved to the tap room of the Memorial Union, but not much else survived. Well, unless you consider the ghost of Mr. Hausmann. Does the stocky German with the scar on his cheek still haunt the area?


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