A little more than 100 years ago, most of the beer brewed in Columbus was made in a place we still call the Brewery District, west of High Street and immediately south of downtown.

A little more than 100 years ago, most of the beer brewed in Columbus was made in a place we still call the Brewery District, west of High Street and immediately south of downtown.

Several local breweries were located there and many of their former buildings still can be found along the Front Street corridor. One of the oldest and best of the Columbus brewers was Louis Hoster.

Hoster was born in Rheinpfalz in southern Germany in 1807. Educated in local schools, he found himself increasingly interested in making a new life in America. Arriving in 1833, he aimed to settle with friends and acquaintances in Brown County, Ohio. Along the way, he had one of those unexpected experiences that changed his life.

As a later account put it, "On his way there he arrived in Columbus, on the Fourth of July, 1833, remaining there over the nation's holiday."

Columbus in 1833 was something of a boom town. Founded in 1812 to be the state capital, it was little more than a frontier village of a few hundred people for most of its early history. Then, in 1831, the National Road reached Columbus and stopped here for a time until construction resumed.

Shortly thereafter, Columbus was linked by a feeder canal to the main line of the Ohio and Erie Canal. Suddenly it became a lot easier to travel to and from central Ohio. This was the bustling town Hoster found in 1833.

"In later days he often referred to this incident of his life. Dining as he did, at the same hotel where the governor and other state officials took their midday repast. He heard their orations and conversation, all of a patriotic character, and as he was sufficiently acquainted with the English language to understand it all, the experience was a novel one to the immigrant."

Hoster continued on to Brown County, but it must have been a bit anticlimactic after his time in Columbus. He returned to the capital city in 1834. Columbus was now a city of 5,000 people. Hoster decided to stay.

In 1836, knowing something of the brewing business, he opened a small brewery along Peters Run in partnership with two men named G.M. Horancourt and Jacob Silbernagle. He later bought out both men and became sole owner of his brewery.

In 1839, Hoster married Philopena Ambos. The Ambos family was in the confectionary business and doing quite well. One might suppose beer and candy made for quite a combination.

Hoster was married for 51 years and the couple had five children, three of whom lived to adulthood.

In 1839, Hoster bought a lot on West Livingston Avenue along the creek and overlooking the site of his brewery. He lived in the imposing brick home for the rest of his life.

Perhaps as a nod to his frugality or as a reminder of his start, he kept the small one-room frame home he originally built on the site as an attachment to his large house along the street.

The brewery became a highly successful business. An article in 1903 described it in some detail:

"From a few hundred barrels of common beer the capacity has increased to 300,000 barrels per annum, the business being still under the management of members of the same family. The brewery has always done its own malting, but its capacity in that line has increased from small proportions to a figure which exceeds one thousand bushels per day. Refrigerating machinery (ammonia system) was adopted by the establishment as early as 1883, when two 25 ton machines were installed, and it was successful from the first, although, with the progress of inventions, they have gradually discarded some of the earlier patents and have now three 200-ton machines of the modern type. The bottling works with a present capacity of sixty thousand barrels, was erected in 1876."

With the success of his business, Hoster found time to become involved in civic affairs.

"During the Civil War Mr. Hoster was active in all measures to raise funds for the aid of the Union forces. ... He was a valued member of Columbus City Council from 1846 to 1855 and also a member of the Columbus Board of Education from 1869 to 1873.

"A gentleman long associated with Mr. Hoster says of him: 'I never knew a more perfectly honorable man or a more perfect gentleman. He was quiet and unobtrusive, always attending carefully to his own business affairs but never meddling in those of others. He made every cent of his large fortune honorably, and he was a model citizen in every way.'"

Hoster died in 1892, three years after his wife. He is buried in Green Lawn Cemetery. The brewery was closed during the Prohibition years.

A craft brewery carries on the name and legacy of what once was a leading brewery in Columbus.

Local historian and author Ed Lentz writes the As it were column for ThisWeek News.