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  • Writer's picturePaige Latham Didora

Joseph Wolf Brewing 2.0


Joseph Wolf and Company became the largest of the three breweries to be founded in Stillwater in the mid-1800’s and was the largest brewing operation in Minnesota outside of the Twin Cities proper. Joseph Wolf himself was a man about town. He valued what his company could contribute to the local economy, not just to his own pocket. He sponsored local events and the 12-man brewery even had its own baseball team.

credit: Stillwater Patch

credit: Stillwater Patch

Not only was Wolf the largest brewery in the area, it also lasted the longest, all the way until prohibition. After producing beer from 1868 to 1920, the founder died and the company disbanded.

The building was never repurposed as another brewery after prohibiton, as the intent once was, but was briefly used as a brewpub in the 1990s.

Enter sisters Pat Wolf and Kathy Wolf Swanson, about 90 years later. With no brewing experience but the strong desire to revive the century-old family business, the two worked for about three years in order for the reincarnation to come to fruition.

According to Kathy, Joseph Wolf had 14 children. Why were these two unlikely ladies the ones behind the revival? They both have incredible business skills, persistence, and an extended family that supports their vision.


The Golden and Berlin Style Weisse were released at the same time, and the darker, wheaty Weizenbock came more recently.


Tart Berliner Weisses really do it for me lately, and I enjoyed sipping this one with and without some sour cherry syrup.

As of this writing, their beers are brewed at Dubrue in Duluth, by Brian Schanzenbach. They do not use the former recipes brewed by the original Joseph Wolf, because, well…no one would want to drink that in 2013. I thank them for that important discretionary decision!

The Weizenbock was a great addition to their collection, with the traditional soft wheat and slightly spicy yeast character resulting from at least 50% wheat and a relatively high ABV – over 8% in this case.

I enjoyed observing, pouring, and tasting with the new Joseph Wolf Brewing Company. There is something contagious about their non-traditional story and business model. They did not start out as homebrewers wanting to make it big. They were already two successful, independent women who were interested in reviving a beer legacy, asking for help along the way. Their story is unlike any other brewery start-up that I am aware of, and I applaud them for it.

Source: Doug Hoverson’s Land of Amber Waters


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