Winona had a brewery before the town had its own flour mill. The history of Winona breweries can be traced back 170 years.
That first brewery in the area was Gilmore Valley Brewing which started in the 1850s shortly after Winona was settled by immigrants. Later Gilmore Valley Brewing became C.C. Beck.
The Rochester Post Bulletin reported the first breweries had a few things in common.
One was that all of them changed owners and names a few times before they closed.
The other was that most of them were founded by a German immigrant.
Bub’s Brewing Company, which exists today but in the form of a bar restaurant, was started after the Gilmore Valley Brewing Company. The company does not make beer anymore.
Originally the brewery was named Weisbrod Brewing Company and was run by Jacob Weisbord.
Peter Bub, who would eventually own the company started as a brew master and foreman.
When Weisbrod died of Typhoid fever in 1870, Bub became the manager of the brewery.
Bub later married Weisbrod’s widow and became owner of the brewery, changing the name to Bub’s Brewing.
This was the only brewing company that was able to survive during the prohibition because they sold soft drinks and near-beer, which had an alcohol content of less than one percent, according to the Post Bulletin.
The brewery eventually closed because of lack of an advertising budget and struggle to find cans and bottles to fit the volume discount, according to the Post Bulletin.
The most recent brewery to open in Winona is Island City Brewing Company. The taproom and brewery opened in 2017 on St. Patrick’s Day.
There were some issues for partners ,Colton Altobell and Tommy Rodengen, when renovating their section of the building they share with Jefferson’s Pub and Grill.
Renovations started in May of 2016, according to the Island City Brewing Company’s blog.
Altobell and Rodengen started the process hoping for a fall opening date. The partners were caught in the licensing process for longer than they hoped.
In a video on the company’s blog, the two owners stated they wanted to be a part of the community and by 2021 they wanted to be selling their beer regionally.
“As a member of the community of Winona we hope to exist as a landmark and destination in town. A place where families, friends and neighbors can gather to enjoy good conversation and enjoy fresh local made beers and house made sodas,” Altobell said in the video. “We hope to give back to the community too and be a part of Winona in every way we can.”
The brewery now hosts events like “The Battle of the Brushes” and a drag show with Winona State Full Spectrum, a LGBT club on the Winona State campus.
Altobell and Rodengen do not run the brewery. As of March of 2018, Douglas Irwin became the Chief Effective Officer (CEO) of Island City Brewing Company.
Irwin said in an email that his favorite part about running a taproom and brewery is the people who love it.
“I get to share my passion with many more people, and I get to do it as my job,” Irwin said. “The long days are worth it when you have strangers tell you that they love your beer and really enjoy your taproom experience.”