A lost tradition that was part of what made St. Paul’s East Side the East Side is likely to return once 11 Wells Spirits opens its distillery in January.

One of the reasons Theodore Hamm built his brewery in 1865 on Minnehaha Avenue near Swede Hollow was that it stood on the site of artesian wells that produced the pure, crystalline water that became its marketing slogan: “From the Land of Sky-Blue Waters.”

And for years — in the days before the proliferation of bottled water — the Hamm’s (later Stroh’s and Olympia) Brewery made that water, free and fresh, available to its neighbors and workers. Kids would bring big jugs in wagons to fill from the outdoor spigots, workers would stop by and fill up their containers before heading home.

When co-owner Bob McManus gets the company’s still up and running, likely in January, he plans to let the taps flow again.

“We’re really excited about reviving a lot of things there,” McManus said.