Things that Matter: Elfenbrau: “Wholesome as Sunshine”

Caroline Morris

Catalog Number: 2011.014.138

© La Crosse County Historical Society

© La Crosse County Historical Society

The weather’s been gloomy, college basketball took a turn for the worse, and taxes are due next week.  Perhaps it’s time for an elf party where the libations are “Wholesome as Sunshine.”

Elfenbrau, or “elf beer,” was the most popular beer that C. and J. Michel Company brewed in the years before Prohibition, bringing prestige and profit to La Crosse.  “There is something attractive about the new beer,” wrote a reporter for the La Crosse Tribune in Sept. 1908 – “a dainty appropriateness to its label which leaves as good a taste in the mind as the fine brew it announces leaves in the mouth.”  You will have to decide for yourself whether this lithograph from the La Crosse County Historical Society’s collection is “daintily appropriate,” but I think we can agree that elf parties in brewery basements look intriguing.  Peer closely at the print and you will see elaborate beer steins, pretzels, turnips, a four-piece band, and a sign on the wall encouraging party-goers to “Play, Drink, Love, Sing.”  What do turnips have to do with beer and elves?  We’re stumped; share your thoughts in the comment section online. 

This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune on April 11, 2015.

This object can be viewed in our online collections database by clicking here.