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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Early Brewers

Early Brewers

GRHC - May 26th, 2010

John Pannel and Christoph Kusterer tap Grand Rapids' first kegs.



John Pannell, the first brewer in Grand Rapids, arrived from England in 1836. He erected a small brewing house on the east side of Kent Street, just north of Lyon, by the base of Prospect Hill, and over a brook which came round the its north end. There he began making English hop beer. By 1847 it had become a fairly successful business.

Then, along came Christoph Kusterer, who had been reared a brewer in Germany, and began to work on the west side of the Grand River. Soon afterward the two brewers entered into partnership, and about 1849 Mr. Kusterer bought Mr. Pannell's stock in trade and manufacture, and moved the establishment to the corner of Michigan and Ionia Streets where there was a good source of excellent spring water.

Christoph Kusterer is credited as the first in the city to make lager beer. Those expert in German beer thought it was not of a quality that they would boast about, and some of the older Germans wished that they could again sip the original beverage. However, Kusterer’s lager found favor with those who had a taste for light malt liquor.

On October 16, 1880 the worst storm in recorded history, at that time, struck Lake Michigan in the middle of the night with a combination of rain, hail, snow, and high winds. The steamer Alpena, on its way to Chicago from Grand Haven went down and over eighty hands and passengers were lost, including Christoph Kusterer, the city’s foremost brewer.


Full Details

TitleEarly Brewers
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, beer, brewing, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringMay 26th, 2010

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