February 9, 1883: Duluth newspaper thanks local brewery for keg of beer

On this day in Duluth in 1883, the the Duluth Daily Tribune wrote that its staff was “indebted to M. Fink for a sample keg of his new beer, made by a brewer he lately engaged in Milwaukee and they pronounced it excellent.” “M. Fink” was Michael Fink, who came to Duluth in the mid 1870s and leased the city’s original brewery located on brewery Creek along Washington Avenue near First Street. In 1881 he began construction on a brick building along Superior Street near Sixth Avenue East. He had hired that new brewer in the fall of 1882, though the local newspapers made no mention of the change, and the grateful notice of February 9, 1883, also failed to mention the brewer’s name. It turned out to be August Fitger. Despite reports, Mike Fink likely didn’t find his “Milwaukee brewer” in Milwaukee. In 1880 Fitger was in St. Louis, Missouri, working in the malt house of the Samuel Wainwright & Co. Brewery. He had worked his way up to brewer by 1882 when Fink lured him to Duluth. (Fitger had lived in Milwaukee in the 1870s, before he attend Germany’s Weihenstephan Brewing School.) Just six months after Fink hired Fitger, the new brewer purchased half of the Lake Superior Brewery for $18,000. What’s more, the deal involved a third party, Fitger’s friend Percy Anneke, who agreed to buy the other half when he had enough money. In the spring of 1885, Anneke was ready to buy in. That year Fitger and Anneke established the A. Fitger & Co. Lake Superior Brewery. Zenith City Press will release Naturally Brewed, Naturally Better: The Historic Breweries of Duluth & Superior in Fall 2018.  In the meantime, read a brief overview of Duluth’s brewing history here.

Mike Fink’s 1881 Lake Superior Brewery, which became the first home of Fitger’s brewery. (Image: C & R Johnson Collection)