Top 8 facts about Minnesota's brewing history

Beer historian Doug Hoverson on brewing in Minnesota.


Animated map of breweries in Minnesota from 1846-2013:
Data from "Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota" by Doug Hoverson and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
by Michael Olson, MPR News

Minnesota is experiencing a beer boom, thanks in part to the "Surly Bill" that passed in 2011, making it possible for smaller breweries to sell their beer on site.

But during the drought before the boom it could have been easy to forget that brewing has long been an important presence in the state.

The first heyday of Minnesota brewing came in the 1870s, when the largest number of breweries were producing beer. These, however, were mostly small family businesses that provided beer for a small area or town.

The large number of breweries began to consolidate in the 1890s and the number started to shrink more dramatically starting in 1914 as the temperance movement started to take hold. A number of Minnesota counties went dry before prohibition started in 1920 causing breweries to close. A small number of breweries were able to keep operating during prohibition, making near beer and other products, and these breweries were able to start production fairly quickly after prohibition ended in 1933.

The second heyday of Minnesota beer occurred in the 1940s and '50s when brewers like Hamm's, Schmitt, Grain Belt and others had a major regional influence. But as breweries continued to consolidate nationally, it was harder for Minnesota's brewers to keep up. The advent of light beer and major advertising from national beer companies in the 1970s spelled the end for most of Minnesota's remaining brewers.

View a complete chat with Minnesota beer historian Doug Hoverson below:
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