August Schell Brewing Company Acquires Historic Grain Belt Beer Sign and Release Craft Ale

Grain Belt Beer Sign Original and Today, Minneapolis

NEW ULM, MN, (Feb. 1, 2016) — August Schell Brewing Company, Minnesota-based brewers of Grain Belt beer, has finalized its purchase of an iconic Minneapolis landmark — the Grain Belt Beer sign on Nicollet Island.

The sale marks the culmination of longtime efforts on the part of the brewery to acquire the sign and the land on which it stands. Since purchasing the Grain Belt brand in 2002, August Schell had been in ongoing discussions with the property owners, the Eastman Family Trust, about the sign’s stewardship and restoration.

To help preserve and protect the sign in perpetuity, August Schell has partnered with local historical consultants Hess, Roise and Company to have the sign named to the National Register of Historic Places. Hess Roise worked previously on the rehabilitation of the old Grain Belt brewery in Northeast Minneapolis and was involved with the renovation of the North Star Blankets sign in downtown Minneapolis.

“Everyone at Hess Roise is delighted to be involved,” said Charlene Roise, president of Hess, Roise and Company. “It’s a gem, a bodacious Minneapolis landmark — and a rare survivor among the once common supersized signs that advertised products and attractions across the United States. It deserves to join the iconic Las Vegas sign in Nevada on the National Register of Historic Places.”

The sign was last lit in 1975, and plans are already underway to restore and relight it. The brewery is working with local architects, engineers and preservationists and hopes to have the sign relit by the summer of 2017.

“The Grain Belt Beer sign both reflects and contributes to the downtown Minneapolis character as a historic industrial and commercial city,” said Ted Marti, president and fifth-generation descendant of brewery founder, August Schell. “As a historic Minnesota brewery, we’re committed to preserving our history and the history of our state.”

In celebration of the purchase, Grain Belt is releasing a new brew — Lock & Dam, named for another nearby landmark on the Mississippi River — in April.

About Grain Belt

Grain Belt, “The Friendly Beer®,” has a rich history that traces a 123-year legacy of midwestern brewing. Owned by the Minnesota-based August Schell Brewing Company, Grain Belt produces three American Lagers: Premium, Premium Light, and Nordeast®. Grain Belt’s longevity, dedication to quality, and approachable nature are what make its Minnesota
brews iconic. For more information, visit www.grainbelt.com.

About August Schell Brewing Company

August Schell Brewing Company specializes in brewing quality craft beer and boasts a proud heritage of 156 years of continuous family ownership. Founded in 1860 in New Ulm, MN, Schell’s is the oldest brewery in Minnesota and second oldest family-owned brewery in the United States. It became the largest brewery in Minnesota when the company acquired Grain Belt Beer in 2002. From innovative German brews to award-winning American lagers, the Schell’s brewing process begins and ends with quality-crafted beer. For more information, go to www.schellsbrewery.com.

ABOUT THE GRAIN BELT BEER SIGN

The Grain Belt Beer sign is one of Minneapolis’ best-loved landmarks. It is a reflection of the industrial and commercial history of the St. Anthony Falls area of the city, and it has remained important to the community because of it’s iconic and enduring presence.

• The porcelain-faced sign, which contains more than 800 feet of neon tubing and 1,100 incandescent lamps, is approximately 50 feet wide and 40 feet tall.

• Constructed for $5,000 in 1941, the sign originally stood atop the Marigold Ballroom, (now demolished), at 1330 Nicollet Avenue.

• It is the last remaining of four signs placed around downtown Minneapolis by the Minneapolis Brewing Company, original brewers of Grain Belt Beer.

• The sign was relocated to Nicollet Island, across from the Great Northern Depot, in 1950.

• The lighted portions of the sign include the spelling out GRAIN BELT BEER and displaying one of the GRAIN BELT BEER logos.

DESIGN SIGNIFICANCE

The sign has been noted as a unique and singular example of mid-century design.

• It is one of 100 items included in the Walker Art Center’s Minnesota by Design, a web-based initiative documenting “the rich landscape of design across the state.”

• The Walker Art Center refers to the Grain Belt Beer sign as “a local landmark and an excellent example of the great-lighted signs of the twentieth-century city.”

• The sign’s porcelain facing, use of neon and incandescent lighting were all new technologies for their time and represent the first stages of outdoor advertising as it related to the automobile.

• To help preserve and protect the sign in perpetuity, August Schell has partnered with local historical consultants Hess, Roise and Company to have the sign named to the National Register of Historic Places.

• Hess Roise worked previously on the rehabilitation of the old Grain Belt brewery in Northeast Minneapolis and was involved with the renovation of the North Star Blankets sign in downtown Minneapolis.

• If accepted, the Grain Belt Beer sign will be one of only a handful of iconic freestanding signs on the National Register, including the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and the Shell Oil “Spectacular” sign in Cambridge, MA.

THE PURCHASE OF THE SIGN
After many years of discussion and planning, the August Schell Brewing Company purchased the Grain Belt Beer sign and the land upon which the sign is located from the Eastman Family Trust in January 2016.

• The Eastman family had continuously owned the property since Minneapolis was incorporated in 1867.

• It is the last remaining parcel of property in downtown Minneapolis to be sold by the Eastman family, who once owned the greater part of Nicollet Island.

• Since purchasing the Grain Belt brand in 2002, August Schell had been in ongoing discussions with the Eastman Family Trust about the sign’s stewardship and restoration.

PRESERVATION PLANS

• Plans will begin immediately to restore and relight this piece of illuminated art that has been dark for nearly 20 years, turning it back into the best-known lit sign in Minneapolis.

• The brewery is working in consultation with local architects, engineers, sign experts, preservationists and members of the community on the project.

• August Schell hopes to have the sign relit by the summer of 2017.

Grain Belt Announces New Brew: Lock & Dam Lager
April release celebrates brewery’s acquisition of historic Grain Belt Beer sign
grain belt beer

NEW ULM, MN, (Feb. 1, 2016) — August Schell Brewing Company, Minnesota-based brewers of Grain Belt beer, proudly announces the release of a new beer, Lock & Dam, to be on store shelves in April.

Inspired by the Mississippi River and the hard working lock & dam that powered the original Grain Belt brewery, the latest addition to the Grain Belt lineup also celebrates the brewery’s acquisition of another Minneapolis icon, the Grain Belt Beer sign. August Schell completed the purchase of the Grain Belt sign in January 2016.

The beer will be available year-round. Lock & Dam is a copper lager with a crisp flavor profile. At launch Lock & Dam will be available in six-packs and 12-packs of 12oz bottles, as well as kegs. By summer, it will also be sold in 16-ounce cans.

“Grain Belt got its start right here on the Mississippi, powered by St. Anthony Falls and the dam,” said Ted Marti, president and fifth-generation descendant of brewery founder, August Schell. “We are proud to honor that heritage with a brew inspired by the place and hardworking people who gave us our start.”

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