Granite City, Illinois
Reprinted from the May-June 1999 edition of American Breweriana Journal.
Written by Kevin Kious and Donald Roussin.
Today a gritty, predominately blue-collar town that in the past few decades has shrunk to just over 35,000 inhabitants, Granite City, Illinois, was the final city to develop in Madison County. It rose from farmer's fields and swampland in the last decade of the nineteenth century, largely through the efforts of the Neidringhaus family, industrialists from across the Mississippi River in St. Louis. Lured by cheap land and the lack of smoke regulations, they established a metal stamping works, the primary product of which was the kitchen graniteware from which the city derived its name.
The steel industry was and still is a significant part of Granite City. The breweries of St. Louis and nearby Illinois towns initially satisfied the local working man's demand for cold beer, but it didn't take long for aspiring beermakers to establish a plant for producing hometown brew. The last brewery to be opened in southern Illinois prior to Prohibition, it would also be among the first to close afterwards, but not before an interesting history and the production of desirable breweriana!
THE OLD WAGNER BREWERY
Money for starting the brewery in Granite City, like that of other local industries, came from the Missouri side of the Mississippi River. In July 1903, articles of incorporation were filed establishing the Wagner Brewing Company. Capital stock of $100,000 was divided into 1,000 shares, which were purchased by the partners in the corporation, Edward Wagner, Sr., Edward Wagner, Jr., Henry Koehler, Jr., and E. C. Janssen. According to a July 16 newspaper article, "the object of the corporation is to brew, manufacture and make porter, ale, lager beer and other kinds of malt liquor."