Naturally Brewed, Naturally Better

The Historic Breweries of Duluth & Superior

by Tony Dierckins and Pete Clure

In 1859 an out-of-work German immigrant barrel-maker and three of his friends with carpentry skills borrowed some lumber and built a brewery along a stream at the northwestern tip of Lake Superior. Meanwhile, across the bay in Superior, Wisconsin, two French brothers had the same idea and began making beer to sell to the few pioneers that remained after the Financial Panic of 1857 decimated the local population. As the region experienced booms and busts over the next forty years, the beer brewing industry would boom and bust right along with the local economy. By 1885 brewing had ceased in Superior, but that tiny brewery on the creek had become Duluth’s A. Fitger’s Lake Superior Brewery. Twenty years later Duluth had three majors breweries and Superior had one of its own. These four historic breweries somehow weathered the Temperance Movement and Prohibition to emerge in the 1930s to once again serve not only beer, but their communities as major employers—only to face stiff competition following World War II when industry giants began swallowing up up small, regional breweries. By 1972, the Twin Ports brewing industry was dead. Today, thanks to the craft brewing industry, the Twin Ports are home to more breweries than ever. Filled with hundreds of historic and modern photos, Naturally Brewed, Naturally Better traces the history of the Twin Ports brewing industry from the 1850s to the 1970s and introduces readers to today’s brewers. The book is still a work in progress, so in the meantime enjoy a brief history of brewing in Duluth from our book Lost Duluth.