Jordan’s History in Beer

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From its earliest days in the 1860′s, the City of Jordan has been synonymous with the finest quality beer.

Frank Nicolin built the first building on this site in 1867. This was the 2nd brewery he built in Jordan. The first one, built in 1861, is no longer standing.

Frank Nicolin sold the Brewery to Sebastian Gehring and Frank Paier in 1867. Doug Hoverson writes in his book“Land of Amber Waters: The History Of Brewing In Minnesota”―the definitive guide to brewing in Minnesota―that by 1879, the brewery was the largest between August Schell’s New Ulm brewery and the Twin Cities.

Peter Schutz and William Kaiser purchased the brewery in 1885 and continued to upgrade by replacing buildings and adding bottling. When Kaiser fell ill in 1902, he sold his shares to Peter Hilgers, forming the Schutz & Hilgers City Brewery.

According to Hoverson, Hilgers “brought renewed vitality to the enterprise. Through the force of Hilgers’ salesmanship, the brewery took the lead in developing a park and pavilion across

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the highway, wired the brewery for electricity and increased business.” There are newspaper reports of Hilgers’ visits to his local accounts on his horse-drawn beer sleigh.

The brewery flourished until it was closed in 1918 with Prohibition looming, and the building became a hatchery where eggs were stored in the caves. It was renovated and reopened in 1934 as the Schutz & Hilgers Jordan Brewery.

Hoverson writes, “The brewery was ready to host an open house to celebrate the return of locally brewed beer to Jordan. The new product was advertised as being lower in hops than the pre-Prohibition brew, and it quickly became popular … at the high point, Jordan Beer, Natural

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Product Beer and Old Style Brew (were) distributed in seven states in addition to Minnesota.”

During World War II, the brewery was purchased by the A-1 Brewing Company of Arizona to obtain its grain allocation, and then was sold to the Mankato Brewing Company , looking to increase that company’s production. Extensive upgrades to the Jordan plant―which by then produced only Jordan and Kato beers―nearly bankrupted Mankato Brewing, and they closed the Jordan Brewery in 1949.

Jordan Beer continued to be brewed in the ‘50s and ‘60s in Mankato and Chicago, and the Jordan Brewery’s caves were used once again to warehouse eggs until the brewery was gutted by fire in 1954.

It languished for years as the “Jordan Brewery Ruins” until Gail Andersen purchased it in 1972 in a tax delinquent auction―she was the only bidder. She took on partners, began cleaning up debris, and eventually, sold her share of the property in 1980. Subsequently, no improvements were made to the property and it languished once again. When the City of Jordan announced plans to demolish the property in 1990, Gail Andersen stepped in and repurchased the property.

She immediately brought in architects, engineers and local tradesmen to completely renovate the property. By 1993, Gail had transformed the building into magnificent apartments on the upper floors and commercial space on the first floor. With the renovation of the brewery complete, she moved two historic Jordan

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houses onto the property. These houses belonged to the original banker and lawyer in town.

Gail’s daughter, Sally Lee, and son-in-law, Jon Lee, managed the property from 2000 to 2011. During this time, they renovated the yellow house on the north side of the property. That building now houses a chiropractor on the first floor and an apartment on the second floor. The house on the south side of the brewery, currently used for storage, sits on top of the brewery’s bottling house.

In 2011, Barbara Lee and Kevin Breeggemann bought the property and spent two years pursuing their goal of seeing beer brewed in these historic walls. The Roets Family is excited to begin this partnership and bring the Craft of Brewing back to the City of Jordan and the historic Jordan Brewery, firing up the brew kettles once again, 65 years since beer was last brewed here and almost 80 years to the day when it was reopened after Prohibition.

2 thoughts on “Jordan’s History in Beer

  1. Craig Walkerman

    The history with the building is awesome, I’m glad to see beer back in Jordan. Can’t wait to head down and try a few pints!

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