James Page Brewing Company
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (March 2009)|
|Headquarters||Stevens Point, Wisconsin, United States|
James Page Brewing Company was one the earliest craft breweries to come out of the late-1980s American micro-brewing explosion and one of the first craft brewery in the US to package its beer in cans starting in 1998. The brand is currently produced at the Stevens Point Brewing Company in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
The brewery was founded by Minneapolis attorney James Page in 1986. The brewery was located on Quincy Street in Northeast Minneapolis, in an aging industrial warehouse building. The brewery's infrastructure was cobbled together from secondhand equipment. Despite the fact that James Page started brewing operations at almost the same time as the Summit Brewing Company, Page never exceeded more than about 1500 barrels per year of production until it was sold to new owners in the mid 1990s.
In addition to operating a brewery, James Page was also known as a home brewing retailer. They operated a retail store out of their tap room, and had a large mail order shipping/catalog operation. It is rumored that revenue from the home brewing operation exceeded that of the brewery in the early 90s.
In October 1995, James Page sold the brewery to a group of investors with a background in food marketing. Mr. Page continued to operate a home brew supply company until 1998 under the name "James Page Brewing", although there was no longer any tie to the brewery.
The new owners of the brewery, led by President David Anderson, thoroughly re-invented the brand. They created a fictional character to personify "James Page". This new James Page bore little resemblance to the founder of the company—he was something of a rugged American frontiersman. They also stopped the unusual practice of trucking the beer to distant bottling lines. Instead, they produced the bottled product as a contract brew at various regional breweries (Minnesota Brewing Company in St. Paul, and then Stroh's in St. Paul). The draught product continued to be brewed at the Quincy Street brewery.
In 1998, Page became one of the first American craft brewery to package their beer in cans. The canned product was brewed and packaged under contract at the August Schell Brewery in New Ulm, Minnesota. They won a contract with Northwest Airlines to feature the canned beer on certain domestic flights.
Despite a more aggressive marketing push, the brewery's new management was not able to turn a profit. The James Page Brewing Company suffered from an identity crisis: although the Quincy Street brewery produced beer for their draught accounts, the bottled product was a contract brew. The beer in the bottles was not the same product as the beer in the kegs, and this could not help their reputation among beer aficionados. This was obviously perceived as a problem by Page management, as they made the acquisition of a bottling line a top priority during the late 1990s/early 2000s.
In 2000, James Page had a stock offering, and the first $400,000 was specifically earmarked for the bottling line. [Modern Brewery Age, October 4, 1999] They advertised their stock offering on their six-packs, and solicited investments as small as $285. They announced that they had successfully raised the maximum $855,000 from over 1,000 supporters in January, 2000. [Modern Brewery Age, January 17, 2000] But the money was never used to fund expansion—instead it was used to lower their substantial debt burdens, and the bottling line was never built. 2001 proved to be a killer year for the company, as they continued to lose money. In 2002, the brewery was shut down. The company continued to contract-brew the beers at other regional breweries.
In 2005, the company's final asset was liquidated when the Page brand name was purchased by the Stevens Point Brewery in Steven's Point, Wisconsin.
James Page's most popular beers in the early period included Private Stock (an amber lager), Boundary Waters Lager (possibly the first commercially-produced beer made with wild rice), Boundary Waters Bock, Burly Brown Ale, and Mill City Wheat. James Page Private Stock and Boundary Waters Lager were available in six-packs year-round, even though the brewery never had a bottling line. In one of the more unusual bottling operations in brewing history, they would pump their beer into a sanitized milk truck and drive the beer to be bottled at the Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm, MN (1.5 hours south).