Duluth Brewing History

Uncovering Duluth’s Storied Peoples Brewing Co.

By Melissa Maki

Reposted with permission from Growler Magazine

Peoples Brewing Company of Duluth was ahead of its time. Founded on socialist principles in 1907 by Martin Smith, F.G. Sandstedt, and Michael J. Gleeson, the brewery stood up to big beer long before it was hip to do so.

Peoples Brewing Co. 1933 Image

Peoples Brewing Company operated in Duluth from 1908–1957 (this photo was taken sometime between 1934–1937) // Image Detail, Archives and Special Collections, Kathryn A. Martin Library, University of Minnesota Duluth.

At that time, Duluth had two other breweries, Fitger’s Brewery (unaffiliated with Fitger’s Brewhouse) and Duluth Brewing and Malting Company, but heavyweights from the Twin Cities and Wisconsin—such as Pabst and Miller—had a strong foothold in the Duluth–Superior market, according to author and beer historian Doug Hoverson.

Hoverson says that Peoples Brewing Company was one of a number of breweries around the country in the early 1900s operating on the fringe of socialism. “They were not all necessarily socialist politically, but they were out to try to break the monopoly of big brewers,” Hoverson explains. Producing better beer and getting a cheaper beer supply may have been part of the plan, but the central idea was to control profits—and to keep the resulting revenue local.

Read the rest of the story from our partners at Growler Magazine.

Peoples Brewing Co Image

Brewery workers fill kegs at Peoples Brewing sometime between 1934–1938 // Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, Kathryn A. Martin Library, University of Minnesota Duluth

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