Thursday, June 23, 2011

Anton Steffen Brewery

Anton Steffen Brewery

What qualifies as a Historical Home?  Does it have to have servant quarters in it, or gables and fancy wood lacework in the windows and eaves? Or does it have to have a front terrace or Gothic towers, or elaborate  Oriental wood designs or Victorian Picturesque towers? Perhaps a Historical home needs to have parquet flooring or stained glass windows to qualify.  Perhaps, one could consider a home, made of Kasota stone walls. Perhaps a Brewery can also qualify as a historical home....

Sleepy Eye has its own Brewery here in town long long ago.  More familiar to folks as the Steffen Brewery....

The brewery was established in 1873 by German-born G.W. Krammer, a year after the town of Sleepy Eye was platted.  Several years later, former Prussian sea captain Frank Burginger and his Chilean wife bought the brewery from Krammer.  Burginger sold the brewery to Anton Steffen in 1888 and committed suicide two days later.

Anton Steffen was born in Luxemburg , August 17, 1844. Anton Steffen came to America with his parents in 1847.  He operated the brewery until 1914, when it closed.  The brewery sold beer by the keg and never bottled it commercially.

Anton Guldan, became the Steffen Brewery's brew master in 1893 after working several years at Schell's and Hauenstein breweries in New Ulm.  He would bottle small amounts of the (Steffen Brewery's) beer in his own home.

Well over 2,000 barrels of beer were produced at the brewery every year.  It did have the capacity of five thousand barrels a year and shipped annually about eleven hundred barrels.. The Brewery brewed Pale, Wiener, Kulmbacher, and Lager beer.

A huge mug of beer sold for a nickel; twelve bottles sold for a $1.00;  and a four gallon “pony” or keg was $1.00.  The malt used in the brewing process was spread on the floor of the malting room until dry (or sprouted), after which it was ground and placed in large copper kettles where it was brewed, with a kiss of the hopes was added and placed in kegs.  It was then placed in vats to be lagered in chips for several weeks.  It was then hauled by teams of horses to the saloons in Sleepy Eye, Evan, and Cobden. 

In 1871 Anton married Miss Lizzie Kiefer, a native of St. Paul and a daughter of John Kiefer, who was born in Germany, and resided in Wisconsin before locating in St. Paul.  Their children are Charles, Mary, Barney, Lucy, Leona, Lena, John and Annie.  Anton and Lizzie were members of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Sleepy Eye. Lizzie passed away in 1911.  Remarried to Mrs. K. Conley, who died on Mar 5, 1915.

Known simply as Steffen Beer, it became a popular brew in the area; it also won a blue ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair. Some of the old timers still smack their lips when they talk about it. For abour 26 years, Anton Steffen, under all kinds of difficulties, tried to build up a profitable business, but with greed competition never made any money.  Always generous and agreeable to his fellow men, Anton The Brewery was sold to Barney Schueller of Wabasso in 1914 when Anton retired. Presently the Brewery is the home of Julie and Brian Cook.


  1. Anton Steffen was my Great Grandfather. Do you have any other information on the Steffen Brewery or the History of the Steffen Family?

    1. I do have some additional information. If you like you can email me at and I can send you some PDF information on the Brewery and the Steffen family.

  2. A co-worker of mine is the great grandson of Frank and Rosa Burginger. I wonder if you happen to know where Frank (aka Franz) is buried.