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February 4, 2011

Minnesota Breweriana

Filed under: Our Favorite Things — Adam Harris @ 11:24 am

Minnesota has a long and proud history in the brewing industry. From the first breweries opened by early German immigrants to Surly Brewing’s latest concoction, the history of brewing in Minnesota is well represented by objects in the Minnesota Historical Society’s collections.  Brewing memorabilia, or “breweriana” as it is called by collectors, takes the form of many types of objects including advertising signs, beer bottles and can openers. Beginning in the 1950s, Minnesota brewers such a Hamm’s pioneered the use of breweriana to widely advertise their products.

The Theodore Hamm Brewing Company was founded in 1865 and emerged from prohibition as one of the top ten brewers in the U.S.  Hamm’s Beer items are among the most numerous in the Society’s collection, but this electric advertising sign is a real highlight.

Hamm's promo

The sign, from the early 1960s, makes the most of Hamm’s famous tag line, “From the Land of Sky Blue Waters,” by depicting a “North-Woods” style cabin with a night scene of a tree-lined lake that lights up from behind and shows twinkling stars, the Hamm’s logo and as seen above, four beer glasses flowing across the sky. (See video of the sign in action.)

Yoerg's BeerThe first commercial brewery in Minnesota was the Yoerg Brewing Company of St. Paul.  Anthony Yoerg moved to Minnesota from Germany in 1848 and quickly started a brewery.  The company survived prohibition by producing soft drinks, but it could not survive a devastating fire in 1958.

This early Yoerg Brewing Company can from the collection is called a “cone top.”  This style of can was invented, in three variations, by several companies to compete with the traditional flat top can and to allow brewers to use their normal bottle caps.Fleck's promos

Before reliable refrigeration, beer was made and consumed locally.  This was true in Minnesota where at one time there were over 200 breweries spread throughout nearly every county in the state.  These salt and pepper shakers were marketing items from the Fleckenstein (Fleck’s) Brewery of Faribault.

A recent casualty in the Minnesota brewing scene is the Gluek’s beer brand.  This recipe card box and set of recipe cards are promotional objects from Minneapolis based Gluek’s.  Made in the early 1960s, the cards feature many different ideas and recipes for cooking with beer, including desserts!  The Gluek Brewing Company and Brand, founded in 1857, was sold to Heileman Brewing of Wisconsin in 1964.  In 1997, Cold Spring Brewing, near St. Cloud, bought the brand, but in late 2010, they decided to retire the name, ending the nearly 150 year history of this Minnesota beer brand.

Gluek's promo

Summit EPASummit Brewing Company is one of Minnesota’s most successful breweries and now sells its beer all over the Upper Midwest.  Started in 1986 by Mark Stutrud, Summit is represented by a wide variety of objects in the collection including this early Extra Pale Ale tap handle given to the Society in 1988.

There are so many items in the collection that it was hard to choose only five, but these are representative examples of large/small, outstate/Twin Cities, and old/new Minnesota breweries.

Jason Onerheim, Collections Assistant

Learn More:

For more information on brewing in Minnesota, see Doug Hoverson’s fantastic book Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota available in the Minnesota History Center Museum Store.

A collection of historic photographs of Minnesota breweries can be found online on the Visual Resources Database.

Minnesota brewed

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5 Responses to “Minnesota Breweriana”

  1. Tweets that mention Minnesota Breweriana | Museum Collections Up Close : MNHS.ORG -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Weyerhaeuser Museum, Collections Up Close. Collections Up Close said: Minnesota Breweriana: Minnesota has a long and proud history in the brewing industry. From… http://goo.gl/fb/yucUO [...]

  2. Jane Rivera Says:

    Every cook needs a recipe card box in their kitchen to hold their secret family recipes that have been passed down through the generations.

  3. Dennis Tarrant Says:

    Thank you for preserving and sharing Minnesota’s history. I started researching my wife’s family tree, which includes two formerly well-known Minnesota families, the Seegers and Yoergs. The Seegers started Seeger Refrigeration Co., which mergerd with Whirlpool in the 1950s; the Yoerg family started the first brewery in Minnesota. Both were Saint Paul businesses.

  4. Amy Kleist Says:

    We have a very unique Yoerg Beer bottle found in White Bear Lake that our son found. He would like o get an appraisal for it. Do you know anywhere we can obtain this ?

  5. Lori Williamson Says:

    Hello. I would recommend finding an antique dealer from this list:
    We cannot do appraisals for monetary value.
    - Lori

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