logo2

27 Aug 2021, last revised 04 Jul 2024

The Calumet Branch of the Minneapolis Brewing Co. was listed in the Unknown Brewers and Bottlers section of the bottle book, Old Copper Country Bottles. It is now clear that the Calumet Branch was a local distributor of the Minneapolis Brewing Co.

Minneapolis Brewing Co. – On 16 Jul 1890, the Minneapolis Brewing and Malting Co. was incorporated (1) by consolidating the four leading breweries in Minneapolis (2): the John Orth Brewing Co., the Heinrich Brewing Association, the Fred D. Noerenberg Brewery, and the Germania Brewing Co. (3). The capital stock was $1 million and members of the old firms were the sole stockholders (2). They merged so that a larger capital could enable them to more successfully compete (2) with breweries from Milwaukee, St. Louis, La Crosse, and other cities that had established bottling works and agencies in Minneapolis (3). By Nov 1890, the company had recently established agencies in Duluth, Mankato, Sauk Center, St. Cloud, Arlington, Norwood, Merton, and Gaylord (4). A new mammoth brewery (4) commenced construction in early 1891 (5) and opened in Sep 1892 (6). By Jan 1892, five carloads of beer were being shipping daily to agencies principally in Minnesota and Wisconsin (7). On 01 Apr 1893 (8), the company reorganized as the Minneapolis Brewing Co. with the capital stock increased to $1.5 million (9). In Aug 1895, the company solicited entries to name "a new beer of unsurpassed excellence" and offered a $50 prize (10). After thousands of suggestions, the winning entry was announced on 01 Nov 1895 with the name Golden Grain Belt (11). The company produced 131,400 barrels of beer in 1895 (12).

Newspaper ad - <i>Morris Tribune</i> - 01 Mar 1893
Newspaper ad - Mar 1893
Newspaper ad - <i>The Minneapolis Times</i> - 16 Dec 1893
Newspaper ad - Dec 1893
Newspaper ad - <i>The Minneapolis Times</i> - 01 Nov 1895
Newspaper ad - Nov 1895

In Oct 1899, a representative of the Minneapolis Brewing Co. visited Lake Linden with the intent to establish a branch office (13). The branch, however, was established in Calumet (14). A warehouse near the Duluth, South Shore, and Atlantic railroad yards was nearly completed on 12 Mar 1900 (14). It was expected to have a capacity for handling several carloads of Minneapolis beer (14). By Oct 1900, business expanded to such an extent that the company found it necessary to build an addition onto the warehouse (15). The 1901 Polk directory specified the location to be at the corner of Hecla & Torch Lake Railroad, west of Osceola Rd (16). The Sep 1900 Sanborn map labeled a small building "Beer Depot" at that location.

Sanborn map - Sep 1900
Sanborn map - Sep 1900

Given the population growth supporting the success of the C & H Mining Co., Calumet must have appeared to be a promising location for the Minneapolis Brewing Co. to further its shipping network. But with only one listing in the Polk directory (16) and only two known bottles, the Calumet branch was evidently short-lived. The Calumet branch was noted to have been the brewery's farthest branch (17), so higher shipping costs would have reduced profits per barrel (18). Furthermore, there was no shortage of competition during this period. Bosch, Haas, and Scheuermann had branches in Calumet, and the Calumet Brewing Co. had just started production in 1900 (14).

Other regional breweries, especially from Milwaukee, also established branches in the Copper Country. Holland's 1887 directory listed a Houghton branch of the Phillip Best Brewing Co. (19). The 1893 Sanborn maps showed depots for Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, and Miller in Red Jacket, and Schlitz in Ontonagon. The 1897 Polk directory listed a Val Blatz Brewing Co. branch in Hancock (20), but their Red Jacket branch closed in 1897 (21). In later years, the 1916 directory listed Pabst and Schlitz in Calumet and Blatz in Hancock (22); and the 1917 Sanborn map showed a Duluth Brewing Co. beer depot in Hancock.

It is evident that at least some branches were bottlers, but brewing did not occur locally. The Sanborn maps labelled the branches as depots, not breweries. Pabst beer was shipped from Milwaukee in barrels and kept in cold storage until bottled as needed (23). By Aug 1909, Blatz installed machinery in its new bottling plant in Hancock (24). The 1908 Sanborn map of Red Jacket showed Schultz at a building labeled, "Bottling Works".

We suspect that the Calumet Branch of the Minneapolis Brewing Co. was also a local bottler, given that the bottles have signature embossing for Calumet. Bottles from Blatz, Schlitz, and Pabst have been found locally, but they lack embossing of a local town name. Thus, they cannot be distinguished from the bottles of other branches. The Calumet name on the Minneapolis Brewing Co. bottles is what solidifies them as Copper Country bottles.

References

  1. anonymous. (1890, Jul 17). Pooled their interest. The Minneapolis Times (Minneapolis, MN). p. 4.
  2. anonymous. (1890, Jul 16). Brewers combine. The Minneapolis Tribune (Minneapolis, MN). p. 5.
  3. anonymous. (1980, Jul 16). Will consolidate. Saint Paul Daily Globe (St. Paul, MN). p. 3.
  4. anonymous. (1890, Nov 18). That mammoth brewery. The Minneapolis Tribune (Minneapolis, MN). p. 5.
  5. anonymous. (1892, Jan 01). The building work. The Minneapolis Times (Minneapolis, MN). p. 4.
  6. anonymous. (1892, Sep 08). A popular opening. The Minneapolis Times (Minneapolis, MN). p. 8.
  7. anonymous. (1892, Jan 01). Their new home. The Minneapolis Times (Minneapolis, MN). p. 5.
  8. anonymous. (1893, Apr 02). Beer makers re-incorporate. Saint Paul Daily Globe (Saint Paul, MN). p. 11.
  9. anonymous. (1893, May 30). A brewery deal. The Minneapolis Tribune (Minneapolis, MN). p. 5.
  10. anonymous. (1895, Aug 06). $50. The Minneapolis Journal (Minneapolis, MN). p. 6.
  11. anonymous. (1895, Nov 01). Golden "Grain Belt" ad. The Minneapolis Times (Minneapolis, MN). p. 3.
  12. anonymous. (1896, Jan 01). Manufacturing is increasing. The Minneapolis Times (Minneapolis, MN). p. 14.
  13. anonymous. (1899, Oct 14). New brewery agency. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 7.
  14. anonymous. (1900, Mar 12). A big beer town. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  15. anonymous. (1900, Oct 23). Calumet-Laurium brevities. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 6.
  16. R. L. Polk & Co. 1901. Houghton County Directory 1901-02. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  17. Worcester, M. R. 1992. From the land of the Golden grain: The origins and early years of the Minneapolis Brewing Company. Hennepin History 51. hennepinhistory.org/from-the-magazine-from-the-land-of-the-golden-grain/
  18. Stack, M. 2000. Local and regional breweries in America’s brewing industry, 1865 to 1920. The Business Insider Review 74: 435-463.
  19. Holland, A. H. 1887. 1887-8 Hand-book and Guide to Houghton, Mich. Mining Journal Book and Job Print, Marquette, MI.
  20. R. L. Polk & Co. 1897. Houghton County Directory 1897-98. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  21. anonymous. (1897, Jan 16). Business card. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 4.
  22. RL Polk & Co. 1916. Polk's Houghton Country Directory 1916-17. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  23. anonymous. (1902, Apr 25). Bottles by the carload. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 6.
  24. anonymous. Aug 15, 1909. New plants and improvements. The Western Brewer vol. 34 (8)

128
Calumet Branch Minneapolis Brewing Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: amber
top: Baltimore loop seal - tooled
base: post-bottom
maker's mark: S B & G Co (base)
other marks: (none)
date: 1900-1901
rarity: rare
  • same plate for 128 and 129

129
Calumet Branch Minneapolis Brewing Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: amber
top: crown top - tooled
base: post-bottom
maker's mark: S B & G Co (base)
other marks: (none)
date: 1900-1901
rarity: rare
  • same plate for 128 and 129
  • different top