December 4, 1902: Superior’s Northern Brewery announces major expansion

On this day across the bay in 1902, Northern Brewing Company manager L. A. Erhart announced that the company would be expanding its beer brewing facility. When all the work was done, the brewery promised, its brewing capacity would be doubled and “it will be among the best in this section of the country.” The brewery was founded as the Klinkert Brewing Company in 1890 by by John Klinkert and Louis Rueping. The pair had recently closed their Red River Brewing Company in Fargo, North Dakota, because when the territory became a state the previous November, it voted to prohibit the sale and manufacture of alcohol. By July 1, 1890, every saloon, distillery, and brewer in North Dakota would be out of business, and so Klinkert & Rueping moved to Superior, which was rapidly expanding at the time and had just one other brewery in operation, the West Superior Brewery. In 1898 Klinkert sold his half to Rueping to establish Kilnkert Brewing & Malting, and the next year Rueping renamed his operation Northern Brewing Company. By 1909 Northern was the only brewery operating in Superior. Northern brewed 25,000 barrels of its Blue Label beer, introduced in 1912, every year until Prohibition shut it down. The business produced near beer until 1924 when an employee was caught transporting beer with an alcohol rate higher than .5 percent, and it closed. Rudolph Peterson reopened the brewery in 1933. Northern managed to survive post-war conglomeration, which creating national brewing giants and killed off small regional operations, until 1967. Zenith City Press is currently at work on a book about the historic breweries of Duluth and Superior, which we hope to release September 2018. In the meantime, you can read a brief account of Duluth’s historic breweries here.

A label for Northern’s Select Beer, made after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. (Image: Jeff Lemke)

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