North Star Beer

In the late 1800s, the state of Minnesota was home to 112 different breweries. With one of the largest German populations in the country, the Germans provided both the demand for beer as well as the knowledge to brew it — and brew it well!

The largest concentration of breweries was in St. Paul, which also had the highest population of Germans in the state.  This area “provided three essentials necessary for lager brewing: (1) climate and soil well-suited for growing hops and barley, beer’s key ingredients; (2) ample fresh water supply, obviously beer’s main ingredient; and (3) a larger number of cool, natural caves, ideal for aging beer.”*

However, North Star Brewery was opened in 1855 by Edward Drewry and George Scotten, Scottish and English immigrants who, unlike the Germans, favored the production of ales. Beginning in 1866 the brewery was sold few times, and the German influence soon predominated with their preference for making lager beer which had a cool, light, foaming quality that appealed to many consumers.

In the late 1860s, Jacob Schmidt was brought in as an experienced brewmaster. He was the key to success and built North Star into the second largest brewery west of Chicago. In 1884 he became the sole owner of the brewery and continued operations until 1900, when a fire destroyed the plant.

He rebuilt as Jacob Schmidt Brewing Co. and continued his brewing success until his death in 1911. At that time Scmidt’s son-in-law Adolph Bremer and Adolph’s brother Otto became owners. The brewery was the only one in the state to stay open throughout prohibition (1920-1933), so when prohibition ended, Schmidt Brewing Co. was the best prepared to fill the need for beer! By 1936, the brewery was the seventh largest in the nation. They produced both flat tops and cone tops, and also secured a contract to supply beer to the troops stationed abroad during the war years.

Despite its clear success, the brewing industry saw much competition, and in 1954 the Bremer brothers sold out to Detroit-based brewer, Pfeiffer Brewing Co.

*Beer Capital of the State – – St. Paul’s Historic Family Breweries, by Gary J. Brueggeman