Historic Faribault Stop 11 Fleckenstein Brewery

Historic Faribault Stop 11 Fleckenstein Brewery


This stone building is one of the few remaining landmarks associated with the brewing industry in Faribault. In 1857, two brothers from Germany, Ernst and Gottfried Fleckenstein moved to Faribault and constructed a brewery along the bluffs at Oak and 3rd Street. There, they could take advantage of the natural and manmade caverns in the limestone and sandstone bluffs along the Straight River that provided an ideal climate to store and age their beer. After several years in partnership, however, the two brothers parted ways and became competitors. Gottfried’s was the more successful enterprise in those early years. He razed the original brewery and built a new, larger operation in 1872. It burned down in 1892, but was immediately rebuilt. Four years later, Gottfried’s son Louis joined him, but soon after Gottfried’s death in 1900, the business closed for good. Ernst Fleckenstein’s brewery opened in 1872. In the closing years of the century, it was the smallest of the three Faribault companies, doing less than half the business of his brother’s plant. But the brewery continued to grow steadily, especially after it began to bottle and sell Ernst Beer. When Ernst Fleckenstein died in 1901, his four sons took over the brewery and expanded the product line — not just beer, but soft drinks like Choco-Malt and Golden Dew. The year 1917 was not a good one for the Fleckensteins In October of that year, the brewery suffered a fire that gutted the interior of the building, but rebuilding began the next day. Then, following with the entry of the United States into World War I, the federal government began placing restrictions on saloon hours and the sale of liquor, culminating in the Nineteenth Amendment — Prohibition — in 1919. The company proved adaptable, and began bottling popular brands such as Orange Crush and Hires Root Beer in addition to its own brands. Since they remained in operation, the equipment was ready when repeal came at midnight, April 7th, 1933. The local newspaper reported: At midnight, hundreds of cars were parked at the Fleckenstein Beverage Company as thirsty crowds anxiously awaited the zero hour. Traffic became exceedingly congested about the brewery. At the proper minute, three large trucks, heavily loaded with cases of beer left the brewery, and quickly delivered the load to various parts of town. Scarcely had the throng departed, than telephone calls began coming in from restaurants and cafes. These were not the only visitors that day. When evening came, thieves broke into the brewery office, anticipating a vault full of cash. The burglars cut telephone wires and tied up one casual passerby to a chair. But they left disappointed, since the brewery had a habit of making daily deposits. On the day that prohibition ended, Fleckensteins ran ads, claiming: “Our hand has never lost its skill,” and it proved to be true. The business continued to be successful, developing a strong regional niche market, but after World War II, big corporate breweries squeezed out small producers. When Fleckenstein closed in 1964, it was the smallest remaining brewery in the country. When Gottfried Fleckenstein’s brewery closed in 1907, it became the site of various enterprises until purchased by Felix Frederiksen in 1936 — and this is what remains from Faribault’s great age of brewing. Frederiksen founded the Treasure Cave Cheese Company, the first commercial producer of blue cheese in the United States, and that cheese-making tradition continues today in the caves of Faribault.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *