Downtown Stillwater—the perfect backdrop for a local brewery. That’s what Joseph Wolf and his business partners realized back in 1868 when they founded Joseph Wolf Brewing Company along the bluffs of the St. Croix River. 

Refrigeration, as we know it, did not exist at the time so they decided to build caves into the bluff where they could store the beer and cool it with ice cut fresh from the river. The caves were made using pick axes and dynamite. The process took eight years, and along the way, his partners backed out. They felt that the process was taking too long and they weren’t making money fast enough; so Joseph eventually took sole ownership of the brewery.

Joseph Wolf Brewing would become one of the biggest local breweries, producing over 25,000 barrels of beer in 1919 and shipping south to Chicago and all the way up to Winnipeg, Canada. Sadly the brewery went under during prohibition and Joseph passed away in 1921 leaving those who were close to him believing that it was prohibition that had killed him in the end.

Today, sisters Pat Wolf and Kathy Wolf Swanson are the only 100% female-owned brewery in Minnesota. The two wanted to continue what their great grandfather had started back in 1868 but, now with a focus on craft beer.

Last Wednesday at the Mad Capper in Downtown Stillwater they launched the first two beers: a Berlin Weisse and a Belgian Golden Ale. The beer is temporarily being contract brewed by Dubrue in Duluth, Minnesota until a permanent brewing site is chosen.

The Berlin Weisse was very refreshing on its own and didn’t leave you puckering after each sip. Slightly tart and fruity and lighter in body, this tasty brew was made for the patio and comes in at 4.3% ABV. It can also be served with flavored syrups such as raspberry or blueberry. Though the traditionalist may choose to skip on the syrup as it tends to make the beer a bit too sweet.

The Belgian Golden Ale comes in at 8.4% ABV and is brewed with rose hips, clover honey and chamomile which pair well with the the peppy Belgian yeast. Fruit is apparent in the aroma but it finishes rather light for a Golden Ale. Overall this is a nice beer and is sure to impress at a summer BBQ.

Both varieties are available at the Mad Capper and The Four Firkins with more retail locations in the works for the future.

In a market full of big, hoppy brews, the Wolf sisters have done something creative—and a bit daring—by introducing two styles not commonly found on the local scene. This pioneering spirit is surely something that would make Joseph Wolf proud.




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