By Joe Bachman
Beer, steel and fire — just a small piece of Wisconsin Rapids history.
The Grand Rapids Brewery had a simple philosophy; to brew “absolutely pure bottle beer”. The brewery, built in 1880 was originally known as Lutz Brewery. After a fire took it down 10 years later, it was rebuilt in 1891.
Located on the corner of 1st St. North and Oliver, the brewery was considered top quality with the latest machinery, especially for a small population. The “pure” taste most likely came from the fact that the plant used local spring water for their unique brew. In 1905, the company re-branded itself the ‘Grand Rapids Brewing Company’ and delivered local suds to Grand Rapids resident for 15 years.
That is until prohibition put production to a halt in 1920.
The company never recovered, and soon after declared bankruptcy. However, in 1921, the building was taken over by H.A. Sampson as the ‘Grand Rapids Canning Co’. The plant canned beans, beets and kraut.
In 1985, the building was bought by Northern Steel Castings and history would soon repeat itself for the historic site. In 2003 a fire engulfed the building much like it did over 100 years before then. Northern Steel Castings rebuilt, and remains at the same address, 80 Oliver St., to this day.
In December of 2016, Northern Steel Castings suffered another fire, however at their other location at 9th Ave. South.
According to a 2016 Brewers Association report, microbreweries have seen a 13% increase in 2015. With Wisconsin Rapids holding the title of ‘Best Tasting Water in Wisconsin’ in the same year, perhaps one day a Wisconsin Rapids brewery can once again deliver “absolutely pure bottle beer”.