Brainerd Brewing Co., Boom Lake, 1890's

Ad from 1903 Ley's Brainerd City Directory, P. 5



[The following may not be in correct chronological order, rather listed just as I find it in different publications. The above photo came to me with the copy including "1890's", but I am not sure that it was BBC that far back.]

The first brewery apparently started just about as soon as there was thirst in Brainerd. Records then show no evidence of its whereabouts, or if it was the same location as the one below. John Hoffman establishes the first brewery, E side of boom Lake.

1875: Brewery closes. Hoffman may have gone to Fergus Falls to set up a brewery.

Peter Ort, local saloonkeeper, operates the brewery to supply his own beer. The Peter Ort brewery was on the east side of Boom Lake. This brewery soon became idle. The 60' dug well was on-premise, and for years this was Brainerd's main source of water during a fire emergency, until the first water tower was built in 1922. I am also searching for a bottle from Brainerd Brewing Co., many of which have been recovered from the depths of the river nearby (Bill?)

1883: Ort expands business, by late 1883 registered as a brewer of more than 500 barrels.

1882 or 1883:
On the same location; George Donant reopened it.

Brewery purchased by Fred Hoffman, and he expands it. However, the 1884 Brainerd Dispatch lists Ort as owner and was refurbishing the brewery saloon and added a bottling department.

1887: Ort still listed as owner in Wing's Brewer's Handbook.

Late 1880's: DBA Brainerd Brewing Co., Ort selling out to Donant in 1887 or shortly thereafter.

1894: People's Gazette (St. Paul) Oct. 20, lists Tac Dobmeier, Joseph Kerner, and Frank Stumpp as principals in the firm, offering lager and export beer.

1900: Fred Hoffman and Edward Boppel expands to 6,000-10,000 barrels. Hoffman & Boppel turned out beer used mainly for local consumption. Boppel learned the beer-making business in Germany.

1903: Brewery has 4 employees and 2 drivers working under foreman Theodore Skreypek. In the 1903 Brainerd City Directory/John H. Ley, Vol. 2, there is an advertisement for Brainerd Brewing Co. on page (5), Fred Hoffman and Edward Boppel, proprietors (see above image).

Brainerd Brewing Company is incorporated, headed by Boppel and [Dr.] Werner Hemstead. The [below-mentioned] map reads "Hemstead and Boppel, Prop'rs.", Aug. 1913.

1907: Brainerd City Directory ad by Brainerd Brewing Company: "Patronize Home Industry. Beer that is absolutely pure---Brewed in the City of the Pines. We fill orders for Miller's Milwaukee Bottled Beer."

1914 or 1915:
All operations shut down due to clamping down of an 1859 Indian Treaty restricting liquor manufacture within a certain distance of an Indian reservation.

1933: 2 employees of BBC, Arthur Boppel, son of Edward, and brewer John Hoerner attempt to start a brewery in Shakopee after repeal, unsuccessfully.

-5/2/01: I found what appears to be the footings and slab floor for this structure, although this is not confirmed, nor do I know if it CAN be. (A photo I have shows what appears to be a brick building.) It is visible from the paved hiking trail, just 21' from the eastern-most side of it. It is at the trail's highest point, where there is a large flat spot covered with Sumac, and strangely no large trees. I have long suspected this location since it's the only logical, and large/high enough flat area to support an operation of any considerable size. Earlier I found the remains of a man-made, mortarless stone retaining wall at its entrance, but missed the footings as the dirt from the hill above has been spilling down the bank for 87 some years.

-5/3/01: Using a copy of an insurance map from the CWCHS, I found that what I was seeing as a slab was only the tip of the iceberg. It is merely the 12 X 16' Bottling House, which was in front of the main structure, which housed the Wash House, Racking Room, Brew House including Mash Tub and Kettles, Beer Cellar, Ice House, and Coal Room. This structure was directly behind the Bottling House another 15' or so, and was about 36 X 40'. 6 outbuildings included an Office and a Buggy Shed, none of which were made of brick. Likely this explains strange large area of Sumac devoid of large trees, as under the area lies several feet of brick rubble, or more concrete slabs, allowing no footings for large trees.

-From the insurance map, Aug. 13, 1913:
--Located 1 1/2 Miles S. of Court Ho.
--Aug. 1913, Brainerd, Minn.
--Brainerd Brewing Co., Hemstead & Boppel, Prop'rs.

2009: If all goes well, in the spring of 2009 Brainerd will be brewing beer again after a 94 year hiatus, as the Brainerd Lakes Brewery, in the NP Center, building #7. Keep posted!

The Brainerd History Group is engaging in an effort to clean up and mark the old Brainerd Brewing Co. site. Here is where we are at. Please see the BHG site for more and look on the Brewery Project link:

5/20/2009: The BHG's project is done and you can read about it in an article by the Brainerd Dispatch here:

11/26/2008: Today I did some foot work in the general area of the old brewery. I have been there a few times but not with any implements other than a probe rod, so this time I brought along a long-handled ice scraper/chisel. At the brewery site I probed down to 4’ which was the length of the probe, and still found concrete slab, 50’ from the bottling house slab towards the hill, so there is more than one slab. In other areas I could detect something harder than sand, but it would go clink then move lower, then clink again, so I think it was brick rubble. I found this 4’ mark while heading NE from the bottling house slab. Using the ice scraper I was able to easily remove earth from the slab, that is what wasn’t frozen. Moving a bit to the east one find finds a nice stand of mature Norway pine, and under them lots of small spruce. There are areas where it is clear that if some brush was cleared these spruce would flourish. Heading north there was a well-travelled deer trail. There are lots of stones in the area to the NE, or at the base of the bluff, the easternmost part of the flat buildable ground. According to the Sanborn maps there are buildings covering most of this flat area, and all the way to that bluff base. Some stones were either piled up by some kids or are remnants of foundations. The whole area is littered with good sized boulders of about a foot around, the size commonly used for stone foundations. These stones do not appear to be indigenous to the area. It is reasonable to believe that a lot of stones were used for foundations even where slabs were poured. Often the slab floor came after the fact, years later. There are also a lot of concrete block pieces in the area, but these could be just rubble from demolition from the houses on the top of the bluff. I could see evidence of some garbage dumping over the years, from above. The whole place is littered with plenty of bricks, mostly reds but a few creams. The reds are rarely intact as unbroken ones. There is a nice vantage point overlooking the lake, and just above the paved trail, that would make a dandy scenic overlook.

Leaving the brewery site, across the trail towards the lake there are some huge boulders in a pile, almost in a circular pile. I could not help think what a nice fire pit area this would make. One much larger boulder had quarry marks on it (drill holes) so it may have been part of a foundation, but how it got way down by the lake is a mystery. It was only 30’ from the lake, in an area that has been under water many a year. Some type of heavy machinery must have moved these boulders to this location. Leaving this area and moving south along the lake I jumped a nice white tail deer, and it headed south towards the pump house.

I then moved to the next project, scraping off the dirt and roots from the base of the stairway going south and up the hill. This is what I think was the return path for the ski jumper to get back to the top of the hill. It does seem to go a lot south when the jump was east however, so I’m just not sure this was its intended use. Either way, it is a substantial poured concrete structure indeed. The risers are 6” and the treads about 18” X 30” wide. The entire stairway is then framed in 4” sides that rise above the steps. The entire length is accompanied by a hearty railing of steel tubing about 4” in diameter, threaded together, and factory bent in two locations. Going up there are 27 steps, then a bend and 2 flat treads to conform to the rise, then 14 more, then a bend and a steeper rise with yet another 14, so it’s a good hoof to get to the top! This brings you to about Ύ of the way to the top of the hill road. This stairway appears to be about 95% intact and just as it was built. The railings seem to be of a 1930’s or 40’s vintage, complete with ball finials. Only one 10’ section at the top was broken, likely by a snow plow, that would need a metal stake driven and a couple of welds done. The ice scraper took off all the debris from the bottom 3 steps in less than a half hour, and most of it was frozen at that. There are a few 1-4” trees growing up through it so there must be some broken up concrete, but from what I cleared off and could see there was not even so much as a crack in the concrete. A bit of clearing will need to be done just adjacent to it to get the branches out of the way.

11/27/2008: I went back to the site to do some pondering as to where all the debris might have gone when they razed the building in 1924; and where are all the bottles??? As with most demolitions over the centuries, scavengers must have come in before and during the process, and bricks are always on the list of usable building materials. So I didn't expect to find tons of full bricks, but lots of broken ones, which so far had been the case. But where did all the rest of the rubble go, the boilers, vats, pipes, roofing, and fixtures? So trying to think like the guy on the bulldozer, I thought it would be natural to move rubble from high to low ground, which would be from the base of the bluff to the lake area. So walking across the paved path I noticed some outcroppings of unnaturally piled earth. Mixed in these piles were lots of boulders, some slab remnants, pipes, hinges, lots of bricks, and bottle fragments galore! It was getting late but I got on my hands and knees for an hour poring throught the leaves and what dirt was not frozen, and did find several bottle shards labeleled with the words Brewing and Bottling and Brainerd, but not one big enough to connect the dots to the Brainerd Brewing Company, those 3 words together, all on one pieces of glass. In other words, until I found that, they could have been Minneapolis Brewing Company, or Brainerd Bottling Works (pop). This digging was only surface scratching, and I was kneeling on a rather precarious 45 degree slope. Darkeness sent me home.

11/28/2008: Having a bit more time I went back to the motherlode, mostly on the fringe bottom of the piles where the glass was found...maybe the frost brought it up over the years. Today I did find the missing links, the shards with all 3 words on them, so I think in time when we start digging in to the project in the spring with some more hands and eyes we'll find a lot of interesting stuff, maybe even an intact Brainerd Brewing Company bottle! I had a strange feeling somebody had been in there before me and got all the intact bottles and was scrounging through their leftovers.

11/30/2008: This turned out to be the last time I was able to scratch in the dirt since the frost is now too deep and it has snowed. However I did find some new items such as non-magnetic (brass) nickle plated tubing, melted bottles, a self-sealing soda bottle top similar to an Enterprise Bottling Company/Brainerd, and assorted steel nuts and bolts. This would make 2 different soda bottles from Brainerd, so one has to wonder if this plant might have produced soda pop during prohibition like most breweries did.

Here's a list of what I have unearthed so far:

-bottles, Brainerd Brewing Company:

--- one light green

---one larger "quart" in clear glass. I have only ever seen the smaller light green ones, so this is a new find for me.

---bottle necks, some wtih rusted crowns intact

---brown bottles, one with ___Brewing Co., not sure of name

---bottle bottoms, thicker so they survived better. A dozen or so say Brainerd, many more say either AB or A B Co., I assume this is Anheuser Busch. Breweries typically would use any bottle they could find when paper lables came into vogue, and put their beer in to it. BBC was a distributor for Miller BC at least one year, but I know of no connection with AB here.

---bottle bottoms with W F & S MIL (Milwaukee?), no clue who this was, a brewer or a glass manufacturer?

---S B & G Co., brown, several, bottom only

---J. Gund Br'g. Co., LaCrosse, Wis., Estab. 1854, bottom only

---self-sealing bottle neck with rubber stopper and top hanging hook, possible from Enterprise Bottling Company/Brainerd

---Heinz bottle?

---liquor bottles

---melted bottle pieces. Either some of the buildings were burned down whether itentionally as in a demolition, or a mishap, or else some bottles were thrown in to a furnace.

-glass stopper

-bowl shard, ornate gold edged

-mason jars parts (fruit/canning jars)

-Redwing pottery crock piece, marked as such

-tea cup piece

-tubing, some nickle-plated brass, some unplated, but all non-magnetic

-glass pane pieces, most are thick, up to 1/4", some modern-day window thickness

-steel items: hinges, wedges, pipes of all sizes (some solid steel), bolts with 1-1/4" nuts attached

-crowns (bottle caps), no blob top bottle necks found...all crown top

-coal chunks (hard coal)

-cinder "clinkers" from a boiler or wood/coal furnace, mounds of this!

-granite fragments





1880's (?):
Joseph (James?) Cullen started a small pop factory on 2nd. Ave. NE, making just a few cases a day.


Built by James Cullen, who starts a small pop factory on Second Avenue in northeast Brainerd in the 1880’s, later moving it, in 1895, to Meadow Brook/Slaughter House Creek on South Seventh Street and selling it in 1921. (Brainerd 1871-1946, Carl Zapffe, Colwell Press, Incorporated, Minneapolis, Minnesota: 1946; p. 133)

J. Cullen moves his bottling plant to the south END of Seventh St., due to the miserable municipal water used as a source, buying the land from pioneer Adam Brown, who sold his water to peddlers who drove tank wagons for delivering tank water around town [B75, 1946] . Here he found a flowing (artesian) spring, plus sunk a well which produced similar water.

1921, March 1:
Joseph Cibuzar bought the Cullen plant, renaming it Brainerd Carbonated Beverage Company. Friends of mine and grandsons to Joseph Cibuzar, Alan and Paul Cibuzar may want to do a story on the history of the Cibuzar era (they just don't know it yet)! Al, Betty says you are supposed to do this!

1938, March 1:
Cibuzar sells plant to T. A. Holmes, renaming it Brainerd Coca Cola Bottling Company. This plant shut down bottling operations in about 1946-7 (?), when the latter built on NP trackage on 1st. (?) St. The building is no longer there, being demolished in ____. The land was once scheduled for town houses, but later sold to a neighbor to the south. They made a wonderful park-like area out of it, complete with a pond fed by the same artesian well!