Heinrich Ludwig Kreische was born in Saxony, Germany in 1821. In his youth he trained as a stonemason and mastered his craft in Germany at one of the first trade schools in the world. Ready to utilize his skills in a new land, Kreische left Germany for the promises of Texas in late 1846. In 1849 he purchased 172 acres on the bluff. Taking advantage of the abundant sandstone at the base of the bluff, Kreische made a name for himself as a master stonemason throughout Fayette County, winning contracts for the construction of the second county jailhouse in 1853 and the third county courthouse in 1855. 

While building his reputation and affluence, Kreische married Austrian immigrant Josepha Appelt in 1855 and settled in a modest self-built home on the bluff, which he later expanded to accommodate their six children: Henry Louis, Anna Louise, Otto, Franklin, Pauline, and Julia.  

Through the 1850s and 1860s, Kreische’s primary profession was stonemasonry; however, the 1870s census revealed a change in occupation: he listed himself as a “brewer.” By the early 1870s, Kreische began the operation of a three-story brewery, located in a spring-fed ravine behind his home. By 1878, Kreische’s brewery produced 774 barrels of lager, making his operation the third largest in Texas. The Kreisches were well-respected members of the German community. The family leased a portion of their land to the local Bluff Schuetzenverein, or shooting club, for gatherings, competitions, and celebrations. Heinrich also owned and operated the Union Beer Hall in downtown La Grange, where his customers could enjoy a glass of “Bluff Beer.” 

Rapid industrialization, the rise of railroads, and the progression of commercial refrigeration challenged local and small-scale brewing in the late 1800s. Kreische sensed this change and began constructing a local icehouse in town and investing in La Grange’s railroad. Kreische’s untimely death in 1882 was likely the final blow to the brewery—ultimately it shut down in 1884. His family continued to live on the bluff for 70 years after his death until daughter, Julia, passed away in 1952. 

Frisch Auf! Banner, 1870 

In 1860, Heinrich Kreische, a German immigrant and stonemason, built Kreische Brewery in a ravine on his property outside of La Grange. It was one of the first commercial breweries in Texas. By 1879, the brewery was the third largest in the state. The brewery’s Kreische’s Bluff Beer was a favorite with locals. 

The brewery hung the Frisch Auf! Banner to let the local community know that a new batch of beer was ready. It was also an invitation for major social events on the grounds. People gathered to enjoy the beer, shooting competitions, large picnics and dances. 

The large ornate banner is 42 ½ inches tall and 64 ¼ inches wide, has a silk body with muslin backing and silk cording on the edges. “Frisch auf!” is embroidered with silk yarn in the center of a wreath of oak leaves with acorns.