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The Minnesota Brewing Company was originally founded as the Cave Brewery in 1855. Its founder, Christopher Stahlmann was a man of German descent who found the brewery in Its current location to take advantage of underground caves. These caves were used as natural refrigeration sources since electrical refrigeration did not yet exist.

The brewery business was thriving in Minnesota in the late 1800's with 112 breweries being located in Minnesota. It was during this time frame that Stahlmann sold his company. After a short stint as St. Paul Brewing Company, it was sold again and became the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company. This brewery became the producer of Schmidt beer and continued under the Schmidt name until 1955.

During the Schmidt era, the brewery flourished. It managed to survive prohibition by introducing non-alcoholic beer. By 1936, Schmidt had become the seventh largest brewing company in the United States. In 1955, the brewery again underwent an unsteady period of ownership changes which culminated in the purchasing of the company by G. Heileman Brewing Company in 1972.

In 1987, due to a declining market and in an effort to consolidate operations, Heileman announced that they would be closing the St. Paul Brewery. Faced with creating an unemployement problem, public pressure caused Heileman to agree to sell the brewery to help save the livelihoods of the employees. In 1991, a sale was agreed on and the brewery reopened as The Minnesota Brewing Company. As part of the purchase, the company was able to acquire the rights to the Grain Belt Premium label, which has won many awards on the regional and national level.

The brewery continued to do well, winning more awards for Its Grain Belt Premium, micro-brews, and non-alcoholic beverages. Alas, the successes were short lived. Due to the increasing market share of national beers such as Budweiser, Coors, and Miller, the company was encountering problems with staying competitive. In an effort to help meet overhead cost needs, Gopher State Ethanol was brought in to help support the brewery. However, it was all in vain as the brewing company was unable to stay afloat.

In June of 2002, the brewery appeared to shut Its doors for the last time. Now all that is left where the brewery once stood is an ethanol factory that has recieved constant criticism for Its foul odor. The future of the Grain Belt Premium label is still in doubt, but some other local brewers such as Schell and Summit have expressed interest in the product. However, the fact that Grain Belt Premium may never again be produced is a fact that weighs heavy on the heart of many sentimental Minnesotans.


www.grainbelt.com
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