ST. CLOUD -- Today central Minnesota has a handful of great local beer options, but this history of beer here actually goes way back to the days when the first settlers arrived.

Jacob Laxen is the author of a new book called Central Minnesota Beer A History.

He says the German settlers brought their knowledge of beer making with them from Europe where it was actually safer to drink beer than the untreated water.

Jacob Laxen
Jacob Laxen
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The first brewery in this area was by Lake George.

The first brewery in all of the St. Cloud, Cold Spring area was actually where Lake George is and it used Lake George water.  People at the time said it was the outskirts of town.

Laxen says St. Cloud had a number of breweries in its early days, including down by Cathedral High School practice field.

That actually was a brewery at one time too before Cathedral bought it.  The St. Cloud Brewing Company ran for a number of years and had a famous beer called Heidelberger Beer.

He says pretty much every small town had its own beer including the well-known brewery in New Munich.

It had one of Minnesota's biggest and most successful breweries before prohibition.  During prohibition, they decided to stay open and there was a big brawl that happened when they were raided by federal agents.

Of course, one of the few local breweries to survive prohibition was Cold Spring Brewing Company, which transitioned to selling non-alcoholic beverages.

In more recent years in the 1970s and early 80s, Cold Spring Brewing had a brief brush with fame by making beer for then-President Jimmy Carter's brother Billy.

Billy Carter contracted with a couple breweries across the country, Cold Spring was one of them, and they made Billy Beer.  They did one big batch of it and Billy Carter promoted it, but he never actually came to the Cold Spring Brewing Company, unfortunately.

Laxen has a pair of events coming up to promote his book the first is on October 12th at Beaver Island Brewing Company and the second is on October 13th at the Stearns History Museum Breakfast Club.

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