A documentary about Duluth's beer history is in the works – but needs your stories

There's a beer history meet-up on Wednesday.
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A documentary about the history of beer in Duluth is in the works, but filmmakers need beer-lovers' help.

The project will look at the history of beer making in the area during the 20th century and how it connects to the brewers there today, write Karen Sunderman on Instagram. She's the producer of The PlayList at Duluth's PBS station, and is behind the beer documentary project.

The history of beer in the Northland

The first production brewery in the Northland got its start in 1857, with brewers capitalizing on the "great water" from Lake Superior, Sunderman told the Duluth News Tribune, adding: "It was a whole bunch of entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity, and people who had a passion for beer" – much like the brewers in the area today.

By the early 20th century, Duluth had three major production breweries – Duluth Brewing and Malting, People's Brewing Company and Fitger's Brewery, the TV station's website says.

They were the three most successful breweries in the city at that time, according to ZenithCity.com, even after surviving prohibition by making other goods. (For example Sunderman posted in the Facebook event that Duluth Brewing and Malting rebranded as "The Sobriety Company" during the 1930s, and to stay afloat it bottled soft drinks.)

By the 1950s, Duluth was the only Minnesota city to have three breweries, MNBeerActivists noted. But by 1972 all the breweries had closed, and Duluth was without a brewery for 22 years.

Come share your stories

Sunderman is hoping people who are familiar with the Northland's first breweries will come share their stories and photos at a beer history meet-up event. It's from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday at Clyde Iron Works in Duluth.

They could be included in the the TV station's beer history documentary, which is due out in March.

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