February 19, 1898: Superior’s Klinkert Brewing Reorganized as Northern Brewing

On this day across the bay in 1898, the Superior Inter-Ocean declared that “The old Klinkert Brewing Company has been entirely reorganized under the name Northern Brewing Company.” Founders John Klinkert and Louis Rueping had established Klinkert Brewing in 1890 after closing down their Red River Valley Brewing Company in Fargo after North Dakota became a not only a state, but a dry state at that. Klinkert set up shop in Superior at 702 North Eight Street and boarded nearby at 815 Catlin Avenue in Superior. (Rueping never lived in Superior, but in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where his family had a tannery and malt plant—essential for making beer.) Several early descriptions of the facility, estimated to cost $50,000—painted a picture of success in its early years. By 1893 it would consist of five buildings, powered by an 80 h.p. power plant, including an ice machine that made thirty-five tons of ice a day. Between fifteen and twenty men worked at the plant, producing 25,000 barrels of beer in four varieties—lager for kegs and an export, wiener, and “special stock” in bottles. Early on Klinkert established “a very large local trade…with the leading families and saloons.” The 1898 reorganization came in the wake of Klinkert’s retirement. But Klinkert’s retirement was very brief. That year he purchased the former Kenyon Woolen Mill at Twenty-fourth Street and Scranton Avenue and set up Klinkert Brewing & Malt. Along with the West Superior Brewery, established in 1889, Superior had three breweries. By 1909, only Northern would remain. There’s much more to the  history of brewing in Superior, and it will appear in Naturally Brewed, Naturally Better: The Historic Breweries of Duluth & Superior is due out September 2018. In the meantime, you can read a brief history of beer brewing in Duluth here.

The 1898 certificate of incorporation for Superior’s Northern Brewery. (Image courtesy Bob Byrne)