By Tony Dierckins and Pete Clure
Beer brewing was the first industry at the Head of the Lakes, started in 1859 by German and French immigrants. Pioneer breweries bounced between economic booms and busts until 1885, when August Fitger took charge of the Lake Superior Brewery. Four major breweries– Fitger’s, Duluth Brewing & Malting, Northern, and People’s– served Duluth and Superior through their boom times, struggled during Prohibition, and thrived after its repeal– but could not survive the post-war consolidation that put an end to most regional breweries. Fitger’s closed in 1972, marking the end of Duluth’s oldest manufacturer– but the historic facility survived to incubate the area’s craft-brewing industry, helping to make the Twin Ports the beer-lover’s paradise it is today.