In 1857 on the bank of the Mississippi River in an area which would someday be known as Minneapolis, German immigrant Gottlieb Gluek started the Mississippi Brewing Company. Soon the name was changed to the Gluek Brewing Company, and by 1964 Gluek became Minneapolis’s oldest continuously-operated business.
In 1858 the company brewed 3,996 barrels of beer, and by 1901 the annual capacity was second only to the two “giants” the Minneapolis Brewing Company (later renamed as the Grain Belt) and the Theo. Hamm Brewery of St. Paul.
The earliest mode of delivery was by horse-drawn wagon, which limited the geographic area that could be served. Prior to Prohibition, 95 percent of Gluek sales were in the city of Minneapolis. The Gluek Brewing Company maintained a stable of huge horses to haul a mammoth beer wagon full of the golden brew. There were 110 draft horses during their heyday. Those sleek, powerful teams of Percheron draft horses, the early trademark of the brewing industry, soon gave way to trucks. The horses reappeared briefly on city streets during WWII, when company vice president Arthur Gluek put them back to work to help conserve gasoline and rubber for the war effort.
Gottlieb Gluek worked hard to keep his dream going and growing. Even a fire in March of 1880 that gutted the brewery could not defer his dream. No life was lost to the fire, but the brewery was insufficiently insured and the Gluek family took a $20,000 loss. Despite the reservations of others, the Gottlieb Gluek used family funds to rebuild the brewery, and it was larger and more modern than its predecessor. The real cost of the tragedy, however, was much greater. The strain of the loss and the effort to rebuild the plant contributed to the unexpected death of it’s founder in October of that year, at the age of fifty-two.
By 1920, of the 114 breweries that started between 1878 and 1920, 51 had survived to be devastated by the “noble experiment” of Prohibition. During that period Gluek did what many other breweries did, turned to “near beer” and soft drinks along with other products. Nearly half of the Minnesota breweries would not survive to celebrate the Repeal.
When Prohibition ended April 7, 1933, Gluek went back into production. Alvin Gluek, then plant superintendent, was concerned about their customers and told the local press that “police protection will be necessary if the lame and the halt are not to be trampled underfoot, and fenders and running boards of family automobiles are not to be squeezed and bumped.”
Gluek kept pace with technology, first by using one-way containers (cans) for their beer. Then by introducing a revolutionary new malt beverage called “Stite,” a forerunner of today’s “light beer”. Some drinkers claimed it had a higher than average alcohol content and the beverage gained the name “Green Lightning”.
Grudgingly, in 1964, the Gluek family bowed to economic reality. The venerable old brewery at 20th and Marshall was sold to the G. Heileman Brewing Company of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. And, in the name of progress, it was demolished two years later.
Although it languished in relative obscurity and changed hands more than once, the Gluek Brand “Family of Beers” finally returned home in 1997.
The Cold Spring Brewing Company of today is much like its namesake, dedicated to brewing the finest beer from the finest ingredients, regardless of cost. The Cold Spring water source is world famous, bubbling from deep within the crystalline granite of Stearns County, Minnesota. The water, which requires no additional filtration, produces a beer of extraordinary taste and purity.