Philip Zang soothed the Wild West with his brew

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise April 8, 2007.

Ever wonder what those grizzled guys in wild west saloons were guzzling before they brawled and stampeded their horses through town? There’s a good chance it was beer from the Phil Zang Brewing Company in Denver. Though every mining town probably had at least one fellow calling himself a brewer (think pan and wood stove), Zang and a few others (like Coors) kept the bulk of those hard-working miners and gun-slingers lubricated.

Zang came to Denver in 1870 – a few years after the Civil War – having run the Phoenix Brewery in Louisville Kentucky for 16 years. Even though his brewery had thrived through the turmoil of the war, he caught gold fever, sold that brewery and headed west. His gold mining career in Leadville lasted about a month. Soon he found himself back in the more palatable environment of Denver, running the Rocky Mountain Brewery for a “Capitalist” (his official title) called John Good. Within a couple years, Zang bought the brewery from Good and soon increased its capacity ten-fold. From then until the complication of Prohibition in 1920, Zang Brewing Company was the largest beer producer west of the Missouri.

All that fine brew (along with mining, railroad, and other investments) made Philip Zang a very rich man. In 1889, he was listed as one of Denver’s 33 millionaires. He retired that year, sold the brewery, and his only son Adolph took over as manager.

One thing Philip and Adolph spent their money on was land, specifically, 3600 acres north of Denver. They ran a farm called Elmwood Stock Farm, where they raised Percheron draft horses (good for pulling around those beer wagons). The railroad people called the place “Zang’s Spur,” a name that in 1887 was changed to Broomfield.

According to Silvia Pettem’s fine history, “Broomfield: Changes Through Time,” the Zangs at one time owned the land that today comprises the neighborhoods just east of 287 both north and south of Midway, including parts of Broomfield Heights; Eagle Golf Course; Zang’s Spur Park; sections of Interlocken Business Park; and bits of Jefferson County Airport. Adolph Zang, his wife Minnie, and their five children lived for a time at 680 Poppy Way in Broomfield.

Philip died in 1899 and an impressive memorial marks his grave at Denver’s historical Riverside cemetery. According to the American Breweriana Journal, memorabilia from Zang Brewing is highly prized to collectors because of the company’s historical significance and their very cool-looking advertisements. So, if you’re walking your dog around Zang’s Spur Park or driving a few balls out at Eagle Golf Course one day and you happen upon an old beer bottle with the name Zang on it, you might want to snag it. It’s worth a pretty penny.

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