January 6, 1881: C. D. Kreimer advertises “For Sale Cheap: Brewery at Duluth”

On this day in Duluth in 1881, merchant Charles D. Kreimer advertised in the Lake Superior News that he was selling a “brewery at Duluth” and that the price was “cheap.” Kreimer’s brothers August and Paul established the brewery in 1872, when Duluth’s future looked very bright. The precise location is unknown, as early newspaper accounts place it at both Fourth Street and 12th Avenue West and  Fourth Street and 8th Avenue West, and a 1933 pioneer recollection said it was at “Seventh Avenue West and Fourth street on a sparkling cascade which still trickles down near the foot of Mesaba Avenue.” The 12th Street location may be most accurate, as Buckingham Creek, which once trickled down to the Bay, comes very close to that intersection. The Kreimer Brothers Brewery, also known as the Western Brewery, never produced much beer. The financial panic of 1873 put an end to brewing operations, and August moved to Minneapolis. In September 1876 the Minneapolis Tribune reported that August had, years earlier, transferred his interest in the brewery to Charles to prevent his estranged wife from collecting alimony. The paper described August as “a man much given to intellectual pursuits [who] read a great deal—hardly the image of a frontier brewer.” That month Kreimer had visited Duluth, hoping his brother would return his financial interest in the brewery, which he valued at $4,000. Charles Kreimer, with his retail customers fleeing town in the wake of the Panic, likely didn’t have the money on hand to pay his brother even a fraction of that amount. Angry, disappointed, and empty handed, August headed back to his rooms in Minneapolis where he shot himself in the head. Following August’s suicide, Charles Kreimer retained possession of the brewery, but it sat idle throughout the rest of the 1870s and into the 1880s. It is unclear who, if anyone, purchased the brewery or its equipment. Naturally Brewed, Naturally Better: The Historic Breweries of Duluth & Superior is due out September 2018. In the meantime, read a brief history of beer brewing in Duluth here.

This advertisement ran in the Lake Superior News January 6, 1881. (Image: Zenith City Press)