User:Colonel Warden/Dakota Malting and Brewing Company

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Dakota Malting and Brewing Company The Dakota Malting and Brewing Company was a company that was located at Bismarck, North Dakota. The company was created in November 1959 and started brewing at April 1961.[1] It was operated by eleven directors.

The dream of North Dakotans[edit]

The Dakota Malting and Brewing Company, unlike most breweries which started operations in the 1800’s, began in April 1961.[1] However, similar to numerous other breweries, financial difficulties soon forced it to close. A brewery in the heart of North Dakota was a dream of many North Dakota residents. In the heart of the barley country, plans began in 1959 to build a brewery in Bismarck. One million dollars worth of stock was sold only to residents of North Dakota. Stockholders numbered about 3,500 including 267 tavern owners. The brewery was initially managed and operated by Frank Bauer, who had been the vice president in charge of production for Goebel Brewing Co., which operated breweries in Detroit, Michigan; Muskegon, Wisconsin; and Oakland, California. Bauer was one of the few brew masters to have his name on the top of the can. Under Bauer’s supervision,the plant was built with a 241 barrel copper brew kettle and a capacity of producing between 70,000 and 100,000 barrels per year.

The first taste[edit]

The first beer came off the line on July 1, 1961. The product was good when fresh. However it soon broke down and was not palatable, causing drinkers to have diarrhea. This was due to not adequately filtering the water through an activated carbon filter to remove phenol which was in the oil-tar based water from the Missouri River. Bauer was told it was mandatory to filter the water but he thought the phenol would steam off in the boiling process. Thus the filter had not been installed. The initial batch was recalled and dumped with holes punched in the top of all recalled cans.[2]

Bauer was unable to pay the bills and was replaced by Emmerich Zarek, a former master brewer at Caribou Brewing Company, Ltd, in Prince George, BC, Canada. At the same time Clyde Johnson, who was president of the brewing company, took over as manager. A filter system was installed and the brewery began producing a good quality product by June 1962. However the damage was done. People could not forget the initial product. Advertising was to no avail. People had to taste the product to know it was good. Arrangements were made to provide samples at various meetings throughout the state. This helped and sales did increase. The first year after the change in management produced 8,000 barrels, followed by 12,000 and 20,500. Increased production was due to two things: the good product and obtaining two labels (Butte and Western) from the bankrupt Montana Brewery.

Financial woes[edit]

Since about 18,000 barrels was the breakeven point the brewery actually made a profit in its third year after the filter was installed. However, day to day operations were difficult as all supplies had to purchased on a cash basis as well as the Federal beer taxes paid at $9.00 per barrel paid on the 1st and 15th of each month. In the final year of production, the plant paid $180,000 compared to gross income of $520,000.

Eventually an advertising firm obtained a judgment against the Dakota Brewery for a debt owed from the first year of operation. The sheriff tied up 5,000 cases that were ready to ship. They were auctioned and brought a very low $1.00 per case. Having other substantial debts and with other judgments evident, the brewery was closed. The last 2,200 cases were sold without the sheriff’s levy and the doors were closed September 30, 1965.

Can and Label Designs[edit]

The Dakota can underwent only one basic design change during its’ short lifetime. The original can with “Dakota” in red was used for approximately 18 months. This was the can with Frank Bauer’s name on the top. After the change in management and the original supply of cans was depleted, the redesigned can featured “Dakota” in white. Both of these cans were flat-tops. The latter can was subsequently produced as a tab-top and used for the last 15 months of the operation.


  • Clyde Johnson, Manager Dakota Malting and Brewing Company
  • Beer Can Collectors of America, Newsletter, September, 1976

Category:Companies disestablished in 1965 Category:Bismarck-Mandan Category:Companies established in 1959 Category:Defunct companies of the United States Category:Companies based in North Dakota