Street view of the new Becker Brewing and Malting Company at the corner of 19th Street and Lincoln Avenue in Ogden, Utah
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Gustav Lorenz Becker Photograph Collection, P0361 Box 010, Book 01)
With the expansion of the factory came the growth of production and sales. When brewing first began in 1890, the Ogden plant was capable of producing an estimated 3,000 barrels, or 93,000 gallons, of beer a year (a barrel is roughly 31 gallons). By 1917 the Beckers produced 65,000 barrels, or just over two million gallons of beer, annually. During roughly this same time frame, the company’s worth increased twenty times over from the original $50,000 investment to an estimated value of one million dollars. Such growth required more employees, and the company responded by increasing the payroll from a dozen individuals in the beginning to more than 100 full-time workers by 1917. Other Utah companies benefitted indirectly, thanks to the Beckers’ commitment to supporting local farmers and businesses. Becker beer soon made a name for itself not only in Utah, but in the surrounding states of Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, and Arizona. One of the company’s slogans reflected this expansion: “Out West it’s Becker’s.”
Gustav Becker giving a speech to the American Legion, c. 1930
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Gustav Lorenz Becker Photograph Collection, P0361 Box 001, Folder 01, Item 008)
Success was just one reason the Beckers and their company developed a positive reputation around the city of Ogden and throughout Utah. Locals viewed John, Gus, and Albert as good, hardworking people who supported their community and the local economy. Gus, in particular, became somewhat of a local hero thanks to his legendary accuracy with a rifle and his outspoken support for the American Legion, deeds that were both regularly covered in Ogden’s The Standard newspaper. For nearly thirty years, the Beckers enjoyed this wave of business growth and local goodwill, but the new legislation of Prohibition would change things for the Becker Brewing and Malting Company in a dramatic way.