The making of Joseph Wolf Brewing Company begins in 1868 when Joseph Wolf's brother, Martin Wolf, establishes Martin Wolf Brewing Company. Joseph Wolf and Joseph Tanner eventually bought out Martin Wolf in 1871, forming Wolf, Tanner & Associates; but the brothers enjoyed working together to build the business for several years. A year later, the brewery would be brought to rubble by a fire, leaving 2 men dead. Even with the devastation, Joseph Wolf knew he could rebuild a successful brewery and continued on to build a new brewery, retail store and office building. Construction was complete in 1873 and became the first steam powered brewery in the state, then considered as state of the art.
Joseph Wolf became the sole proprietor of the brewery after the other partners sold their shares, dissatisfied with production. After this, the name changed again to The Empire Brewery and business only continued to grow, becoming the largest brewery in the state outside of the Twin Cities by 1879. Wolf was joined in business by his sons and sons-in-law in 1896 and the name changed for a final time at Joseph Wolf Brewing Company. The younger help proved to be prosperous as overall liquor sales were rapidly declining due to a temperance campaign in the county, over 1,000 people took the pledge not to drink. Joseph Wolf managed to stay afloat, as other local breweries were closing their doors, by forming the toughest baseball team in the state. There would be days worth of newspaper coverage in any city after a visit from the Joseph Wolf baseball team, creating essential marketing for the company.
In 1919, the company produced 25,000 barrels of beer making it their best year of business. Unfortunately there was no stopping the Prohibition, and the production of beer ceased on January 16, 1920. A year later Joseph Wolf died at the age of 89, they say of a broken heart after his beloved brewery was forced closed. Joseph Wolf Company continued to produce bottled water, sodas and sparkling water until all production stopped in 1925.
Now, the great-granddaughters of Joseph Wolf are mending his broken heart in spirit and reviving his legacy. After a 93 year dry spell, these women were proud to present the first two artisanal beers under the Joseph Wolf name the summer of 2013. They are continuing to grow, making craft brews that will honor the creative spirit of their great-grandfather and satisfy the expanding thirst of American craft beer drinkers.
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