Carver County has long had beer due to the talents of its early German immigrants, who were master brewers.
The first recorded brewery in Carver County was the Fritz and Ulmer Brewery in Chaska, owned by Joseph Fritz and George Ulmer, which was in business no later than the end of 1862, but the partnership dissolved within the year. The brewery passed through several owners before landing in the hands of Bernard Leiverman, Sr. in 1897. In 1904, Leiverman’s son August took over, and the brewery was credited with producing Chaska’s first lager beer and bottled beer. Prohibition in 1919 put an end to Leiverman Brewery, and the building was razed to make way for Highway 212 in 1922.
The Union Brewery in Chaska was founded by Henry Young and Charley May 1868, (by some accounts 1866). It passed through the hands of Peter Iltis, George Karcher and Gottlieb Beurlen, who sold it in 1906 to Fred Beyrer, Sr. The Beyrer family had passed down the art of brewing for more than 200 years in Germany. About the time he returned from his training, WWI broke out, and he returned to Europe—this time as an American soldier. And just as he returned home from WWI, prohibition was about to start. The Union Brewery was transformed into the Castle Rock soft drink company.
In Carver County, it wasn’t the wine or hard alcohol that would be missed, it was the beer.
Wendy Petersen Biorn is the executive director of the Carver County Historical Society.