Fitger’s Brewery (through 1910)

The 1882 M. Fink & Co.-Lake Superior Brewery, which would become the first home of Fitger’s Brewery. (Image: Zenith City Press)

There are no exact records of the first attempts of brewing beer in Duluth, but diverse small breweries were started in the 60s and early 70s, with wavering success. Notable among these was the brewery of Nicholas Decker, which was located on East First street, between Seventh and Eighth avenues east, where a row of fine fiat buildings is now standing. The creek which ran past this brewery was named Brewery creek, and retains that name to the present day. In 1877 this Decker brewery was leased to Michael Fink, who conducted it successfully for several years. Mr. Fink was a well-known figure in Duluth in those years, being connected with much of the development of the city, and serving as alderman in the old village council for several terms.

In 1881 Mr. Fink started to build a new brewery on East Superior street, but sold it in 1883 to August Fitger and Percy S.Anneke, under whose management it has remained during these twenty-seven years, under the name of Fitger Brewing Company.

The village of Duluth had about 3,500 inhabitants in 1883, and the sales of the brewery were naturally confined to the village only. But as Duluth grew, so grew the brewery. Nothing demonstrates the progressive spirit of the Fitger Company better than the fact that in 1890 it erected the first refrigerator machine in the state of Minnesota. One by one new buildings were erected and equipped with modern apparatus, cooperage and machinery, and the whole plant now occupies a commanding position on the city’s main business thoroughfare. The massive front of the buildings, especially, built of native stone, is unique and picturesque. The company is now enlarging its plant by the building of a large barn and a spacious automobile garage at the foot of Fifth avenue east, the front constructed of the same kind of stone as the main buildings on Superior street. The office of the company at the foot of Sixth avenue east, is considered one of the most artistic in the city. In its interior appointments it resembles a bank.

This firm gives steady employment to about 100 people; its beer sales have grown from 1, 800 barrels of beer a year in old village times, to almost 100, 000 barrels a year. Its trade covers not only the entire northern part of Minnesota, but also extends into adjacent states. Railroad tracks run directly into its grounds and cars are loaded, iced and sent on their journeys directly from the brewery’s doors.

Sources:

  • Woodbridge, Dwight and John Pardee, eds. History of Duluth and St. Louis County Past and Present Vols. 1 – 2. C. F. Cooper & Company, Chicago: 1922.
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