My cousin and investor in the new family business.
John Markel my cousin was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. his mother was Monnie Storz my aunt, daughter of Arthur Storz and he was the son of Gottlieb Storz. Growing up, John spent a lot of time with his grandfather, Art Storz, down at the Storz Brewing Co. It was a playground when he was a kid, he it always a busy and industrious part of Omaha through the peak brewing decades of the 50s and 60s. During the 60s, business conditions and other factors led to the demise of Omaha’s remaining brewing industry. In 1972, the brewery had been closed. A few years later Gottlieb Storz passed away.
John departed Omaha and headed for Alaska. This Alaskan adventure was inspired, in part, by photos, which had hung on the walls of a Storz tasting room, referred to as the “The Trophy Room” in the brewery. These photos showed Art Storz in Alaska, during the late 40s. He was hunting with Alaska’s first and perhaps most famous registered guide, Andy Simons. The black & white photos showed them traveling on horse back into the Alaskan wilderness, where they hunted caribou, moose, sheep and bear. Many of the animals from this trip also hung in the Storz Trophy room. This was inspiration for dreams that proved alluring.
John’s first adventure in Alaska was in the Brooks Range above the Arctic Circle, which is one of the most remote and wild areas in North America. John began with a three-month-long climbing and river trip in the Gates of Arctic and Noatak River. This was the beginning of “a trip of a lifetime.”
When John got back to the civilization in Anchorage, he headed to the Kenai Peninsula where his grandfather Art Storz had explored and hunted. John found a mountain range named after my grandfather’s guide and companion, Andy Simons. John stayed on to work with the US Fish & Wildlife Service at the Kenai National Moose Range and experienced the very same area his grandfather Art Storz had explored three to four decades before. John had the chance to hunt moose with the very same 1903 Springfield rifle his grandfather had used. The horns hang on the side of John’s house to this day.
For the next 40 years, John explored Alaska’s mountains and ran its wild rivers. During this period he guided and ultimately developed a film and television production business, which provided support for film projects in Alaska. This business provided a new means to access some of the most remote and wild areas of the vast landscape. Along this route “and trip of a lifetime,” he raised a daughter who had often wondered about our ancestral connections to the Midwest.
John returned to Omaha with Tom Markel his cousin and visited the site of the old brewery. They both were saddened to find that most of the buildings had been demolished. What remained of the brewery housed an auto chop shop. It was hard to imagine how the former industrial complex had been turned into a junk yard. Rising up above the piled wreckage was the single reminder of what had been here in the past. There was the grand old brick chimney rising hundreds of feet with the STORZ name built right into it. It had made it thru it all. It still remained part of Omaha’s history. It is this Omaha landmark and symbol of a grand history, that is the starting point. This, combined with the inspiration and entrepreneurial expertise from my cousin and partner, Tom Markel it all got started again. First came a dream and then slowly a plan took shape. Along this path, we discovered other people were also interested in the reviving the Storz brand.
So it seems, we have begun another adventure.
Going through the Storz archives, we discovered a collection of pre-prohibition beers. These were beers that had not seen or heard of before. These were beers that had won gold medals at international competitions in Belgium and Paris. These beers had not been in production since prohibition. We discovered the old trademarks and slogans – AGE, PURITY and STRENGTH. Perhaps we need to go back to the roots. Gottlieb had chosen those three words along with a picture that showed what would appear to be monks brewing beer.