Oldest Breweries in America

10 Oldest Breweries in America

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Beer is probably the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world and Americans consume an estimated 6.3 billion gallons of beer annually. To keep up with demand, there are numerous breweries around the country, with many dating back to the mid-19th century. While most of the breweries on this list are owned by the largest brewing companies in the world, a few have remained owned by their founding families. All of these breweries are still operational and many of them produce beverages for other brands in addition to their own.

Please note that any brewery that is now defunct, but still has products produced by other breweries – such as Schaefer Beer – has been omitted from this list.

10. Coors Brewing Company

Year Founded: 1873
Founder(s):  Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler
Location:  Golden, Colorado
Current Owner:  Molson Coors Brewing Company (MillerCoors)
Current Products:  Coors Original; Coors Light; Killian’s Irish Red; and many others, including regional brands

photo source: Wikimedia Commons via Yassie

Today, the Coors Brewing Company is a regional division of the world’s third-largest brewing company, the Molson Coors Brewing Company (MillerCoors). Coors was founded in 1873 by German immigrants Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler, who bought Pilsner-style beer recipe from Czech immigrant William Silhan.

For much of its first century of existence, Coors beer was sold solely in the American West. Coors finally established a nationwide market presence in the 1980s and eventually became one of the most recognized beer brands in the U.S.

Did You Know?

The Coors Brewing Company facility in Golden, Colorado is the largest single-site brewery in the world.


9. Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company

Year Founded: 1867
Founder(s):  Jacob Mathias Leinenkugel and John Miller
Location:  Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Current Owner:  MillerCoors (Molson Coors Brewing Company)
Current Products:  Coors Original; Honey Weiss; Sunset Wheat; Berry Weiss; Harvest Patch Shandy (pumpkin spice, fall seasonal)

photo source: Wikimedia Commons via cfalc0n

The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company was founded in 1867 by Prussian immigrant Jacob Mathias Leinenkugel and John Miller. The original beer produced by the company was based on a recipe that Leinenkugel brought with him when he came to America. For much of Leinenkugel Brewing’s history its beer was sold only in the Upper Midwest.

The brewery remained owned by the Leinenkugel family until 1988 when it was sold to the Miller Brewing Company in an effort to stay solvent. Surprisingly, Miller decided to allow the Leinenkugel family to stay on and a member of the family has remained as the company’s president ever since.

Did You Know?

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company finally went national when a Summer Shandy ale was added to the brand’s lineup. Leinenkugel is now known for its shandies and a majority of shandies consumed in the U.S. are brewed by Leinenkugel.


8. Frankenmuth Brewery

Year Founded: 1862
Founder(s):  William Knaust and Martin Heubisch
Location:  Frankenmuth, Michigan
Current Owner:  Haithem and Anmar Sarafa
Current Products:  about 36 different craft beers including – The Hef (Hefeweizen); Frankemuth Pilsner; American Blonde Ale; Banzai Red Eye Ale;

photo source: TripAdvisor

The Frankemuth Brewery dates back to 1862 when William Knaust and Martin Heubisch opened the Cass River Brewery. In addition to being the oldest brewery in Michigan, Frankenmuth claims it is also America’s oldest microbrewery.

In 1874, Johann Geyer purchased the brewery and renamed it Frankenmuth Brewing Co. The Frankenmuth Brewery remained in the Geyer family for the next 112 years. The brewery then changed ownership a few times before it was closed down for several years after it was severely damaged by an F3 tornado in 1996. Frankenmuth Brewery reopened with a restaurant in 2003, but closed again in 2006 due to financial struggles. However, Frankenmuth Brewery has been open since 2009 after being purchased by Haithem and Anmar Sarafa.

Did You Know?

The tornado in 1996 was not the only time that the Frankenmuth Brewery was heavily damaged – it was nearly burnt to the ground in the late 1980s.


7. August Schell Brewing Company

Year Founded: 1860
Founder(s):  August Schell and Jacob Bernhardt
Location:  New Ulm, Minnesota
Current Owner:  The Marti Family (descendants of August Schell)
Current Products:  Schell’s Deer Brand; Schell’s Light; Schell’s Firebrick; Schell’s Keller Pils; various seasonal beers

photo source: Flickr via Steve Moses

The August Schell Brewing Company is the second oldest family-owned American brewery after Yuenling. Schell’s was founded in 1860 by August Schell and Jacob Bernhardt, both German immigrants. Schell bought out Bernhardt in 1866 to take sole ownership of the brewery and his descendants have been running the company since then.

In 2002, the August Schell Brewing Company expanded after it acquired the recipe and branding for Grain Belt Beer. Schell’s is now the oldest and largest brewery in Minnesota.

Did You Know?

During the 1970s when the beer industry going through a period of consolidation and upheaval, the August Schell Brewing Company was nearly shut down, but managed to stay afloat by cutting down a large black walnut tree located on the grounds of the brewery and selling the lumber.


6. Stevens Point Brewery

Year Founded: 1857
Founder(s):  George Ruder and Frank Wahle
Location:  Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Current Owner:  Unspecified (privately owned)
Current Products:  Point Special Lager; Point Amber Classic; Point Belgian White Wheat Ale; Bamboo Brewing Company Brand Beers produced for Hy-Vee supermarkets; Gourmet Sodas

Stevens Point Breweryphoto source: Explore Central Wisconsin

The Stevens Point Brewery is one of the few remaining breweries on this list that is still privately owned. The brewery was founded in 1857 by George Ruder and Frank Wahle who ran the Stevens Point Brewery for the next decade. The company was then sold to the Lutz family in 1867 who ran Stevens Point for the next few decades. Stevens Point Brewery has changed ownership several times, but has always remained relatively small. Besides its own branded beers, the Stevens Point Brewery manufactures alcoholic beverages for several small brands as well as a line of gourmet sodas.

Did You Know?

During the American Civil War, Steven Points Brewery provided beer to the troops.


5. Miller Brewing Company

Year Founded: 1855
Founder(s):  Frederick Miller
Location:  Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Current Owner:  Molson Coors Brewing Company (MillerCoors)
Current Products:  Miller Midnight; Sharp’s; Frederick Miller Classic Chocolate Lager; Mickey’s; Olde English 800; Milwaukee’s Best Lite;

photo source: Wikimedia Commons via Spaluch1

The Miller Brewing Company is yet another American brewery founded by a German immigrant in the mid-19th century. A year after Frederick Miller immigrated to Milwaukee with a unique brewer’s yeast, he purchased the small Plank Road Brewery. Miller changed its name to the Miller Brewing Company and it remained in the Miller family until 1966.

Since then, the Miller Brewing Company has changed ownership a few times and is currently owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company. A year after Anheuser-Busch Inbev was formed in 2015, Molson Coors gained the rights to the Miller Brewing Company from SABMiller, which is now defunct.

Did You Know?

Although the Miller Brewing Company now has brewing facilities around the country, the main Miller brewery has remained in its original location since its founding.


4. Anheuser-Busch

Year Founded: 1852
Founder(s):  Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch
Location:  St. Louis, Missouri
Current Owner:  Anheuser-Busch InBev
Current Products:  Landshark Lager; all Budweiser products; all Stella Artois products; all Beck’s products

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Anheuser-Busch traces its history back to 1852 when a Bavarian Brewery was opened in St. Louis by German American brewer and saloon operator George Schneider. In 1860, Eberhard Anheuser saved the brewery from bankruptcy along with silent business partner William D’Oench. Anheuser turned the company around and was eventually joined by Adolphus Busch, who married Anheuser’s daughter in 1861.

Together, Anheuser and Busch made several innovations and turned Anheuser-Busch into the largest brewery in the United States. After Anheuser-Busch was acquired by InBev in 2008, Anheuser-Busch InBev became the world’s largest brewing company and produces a wide array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages from several brands.

Did You Know?

Up until 2009, Anheuser-Busch was also one of the largest theme park owners/operators in the United States, with ten parks throughout the country through its entertainment division, Busch Entertainment Corporation (now SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment), including its three SeaWorld locations.


3. Minhas Craft Brewery

Year Founded: 1845
Founder(s):  Mr. Bissinger
Location:  Monroe, Wisconsin
Current Owner:  Ravinder Minhas and Manjit Minhas
Current Products:  Boxer Lager and other varieties under the Boxer line; Boatswain series for Trader Joe’s; private label bottler of the Costco Brand Beer.

photo source: Wikimedia Commons via Corey Coyle

Not too much is known about the history of the Minhas Craft Brewery, formerly the Joseph Huber Brewing Company and Blumer Brewing Company, other than the fact that the brewery was founded at its present site in 1845 by a Mr. Bissinger. The brewery has changed ownership about ten times and over the years it has had various names. Currently, the brewery is known as the Minhas Craft Brewery after the company was acquired by siblings Ravinder and Manjit Minhas in 2006.

Did You Know?

In addition to brewing a variety of over 233beers, spirits, liqueurs, and wines, the Minhas Craft Brewery is home to the largest brewery memorabilia museum in the United States, which opened in 2010.


2. Pabst Brewing Company

Year Founded: 1844
Founder(s):  Jacob Best
Location:  Los Angeles, California (formerly Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Current Owner:  TSG Consumer Partners and Eugene Kashpar
Current Products:  Pabst Blue Ribbon; Jacob Best; Ballantine; Schliz; Blatz; Old Milwaukee; Schmidt Beer; National Bohemian

photo source: Wikimedia Commons via Jeremy Jannene

Pabst Brewing Company began as a small brewery founded by German brewer Jacob Best in 1844 not long after he immigrated to Milwaukee. Best named initially named the company The Empire Brewery and later changed its name to Best and Company. Pabst received its current name after Best’s grandson-in-law, Frederick Pabst, around 1866.

Since then, Pabst Brewing Company has grown into a large holding company that not only produces its own beer, but also several brands from now defunct breweries. About half of the beer produced under Pabst’s ownership is Pabst Blue Ribbon brand, with the other half coming from the other brands the company now owns.

Did You Know?

By 1893, Pabst Brewing Company had become so successful that it became the first brewery in the United States to sell more than a million barrels of beer in a year.


1. Yeungling

Year Founded: 1829
Founder(s):  David Yuengling
Location:  Pottsville, Pennsylvania
Current Owner:  Richard Yuengling Jr.
Current Products:  Traditional Lager; Light Lager; Yuengling Premium Beer; Yeungling Premium Light Beer; Original Black & Tan;

Yuenglingphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

 

D.G. Yeungling & Son, typically known as just Yuengling, has been in continuous operation since 1829, making Yuengling the oldest brewery in America. Yuengling was founded by David Gottlieb Yuengling (formerly Jüngling; he anglicized his last name), who had immigrated from Germany. Originally, Yuengling’s brewery was called Eagle Brewery, which is why the company’s logo is an eagle. Today, Yuengling is still run David Yuengling’s descendants.

Did You Know?

In October 2019, Yuengling released its first collaborative beer ever in its history after the brewery partnered with Hershey’s to produce a limited release beer titled Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter.


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