Date in History: 1850 to 1950

In 1850 the first commercial brewery in Fort Atkinson was started by Canadian-born Henry Pritchard. Pritchard’s Ale was produced and bottled in buildings located on the south bank of the Rock River just west of the current Robert Street Bridge.

In the years to come many breweries would operate along the banks of the Rock. When German-born William Spaeth came to Fort Atkinson in 1883, he immediately began brewing beer here for Blatz of Milwaukee. After a fire destroyed the Blatz brewery in 1886, Spaeth began his own business, City Brewery on South Water Street just west of the current Café Carpe. He started small, adding buildings as his business continued to grow. By 1910 his small staff, including two sons, produced 4,000 barrels of beer a year. Prohibition shut Spaeth down in 1919 and the business was sold. Breweries continued in Fort Atkinson until 1954.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 01/16/2006.