December 12, 2008

Schmidt Brewery History

Originally the Stahlmann Brewery, but built as the Cave Brewery in 1855 was sold the the Jacob Schmidt and family in 1900. They purchased the old Stahlmann Brewery because the North Star Brewery which Jacob Schmidt had half interest in burned to the ground and a new location was needed. In 1901 it became the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company. They built a new facility and malt house along side the existing structures. In 1955, the plant was sold to the Pfeiffer Brewing Company of Detroit, but continued to use the very popular Schmidt name and logo. In 1972, G. Heilemann Brewing Company of LaCrosse, Wisconsin brought the brewery. I believe the plant closed briefly in 1987 when Heilemann's was purchased by an Australian company. The plant did reopen in 1991 when the Minnesota Brewing Company moved in and produced the strangely named beer labeled 'Pig's Eye'. If however you are a local, Pig's Eye is a very familiar name as it has quite a history in the early days of St Paul. [I believe they wanted to name St Paul 'Pig's Eye' at one point]

The plant struggled in the late 1990's financially. To help keep the plant alive, it sold part of the plant to Gopher State Ethanol and it became the nations first urban ethanol processing plant. Those of you in the Ethanol business are familiar with the foul oder it can produce. As you can image, the neighborhood was full of complaints. In reality, having an ethanol process plant in a neighborhood turn into a very bad idea. In 2002, beer production unfortunately ended at the Schmidt Brewery. The bitter smell continued to stink up the neighborhood. In May of 2004, the ethanol side of things closed for good, not due to the complaints and many court battles that lasted for years. It was closed do to financial reasoning.

Now the plant sits vacant. Though in doing some research tonight, I'm reading the plant may have been sold for 7.5 million and parts of the plant will be reconstructed in to art studio's and perhaps more. It would be nice to see the castle like structure that has stood in St Paul for 150 years to live on versus being torn down.

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