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Brewing in Owatonna: It's about more than beer

Did you know that the Foremost Brewing Cooperative is a part of Steele County’s rich brewing history?

Beer label from Ganser's City Brewery in Owatonna MN
Lager beer label from Peter Ganser's City Brewery

In recent years, the rise of craft beer and breweries might give the impression that locally brewed, small-batch beer is a novel concept. However, the brewing tradition in Owatonna dates back to the mid-19th century. This was a time when German immigrants, famed for their brewing expertise, made Steele County their home. Among these brewers, Peter Ganser stands out.

In 1865, German immigrant brothers Peter and Adam Ganser purchased the City Brewery. At that time, Owatonna was a budding town nestled on the banks of the Straight River. The Ganser brothers jointly managed the brewery until 1872 when Adam tragically passed away. Despite this loss, Peter persevered and continued to operate the brewery until it was forced to close during Prohibition. Over the years, Peter faced numerous challenges, including two devastating fires in 1878 and 1884 that destroyed his brewery. However, demonstrating remarkable resilience, he rebuilt the brewery each time. Unfortunately, the City Brewery had to close its doors during Prohibition.

But Peter Ganser was more than just a brewer; he was a pillar of the community. He served as the mayor of Owatonna and as an alderman, significantly contributing to the city’s development.

Today, the Foremost Brewing Cooperative continues the work that Peter began over 150 years ago. We take pride in not only brewing excellent beer but also in supporting this historic and  wonderful town we all call home. We strive to enhance the vibrancy of downtown Owatonna and support those organizations that uplift our neighbors. We do this by hosting community events like the Bob Fest, OktoberFest, and the Halloween Bash; by providing local musicians a stage for their music; by donating to local fundraisers; and by hosting our monthly “Pints for a Purpose”—among other things.

In both brewing and community involvement, we are honored to follow in Peter’s footsteps. As our motto says, “Foremost. It’s about more than beer.”








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