Where the Name Came From...
However, Rublein soon got out of the beer business, and in 1879 sold the brewery to Peter White. White, in turn, leased the operation to a pair of brewers from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Charles Meeske and Reiner Hoch. Under their leadership, the brewery prospered. Within two years, the partners found that their manufacturing couldn't meet demand, so in 1881 they built a second brewery in Negaunee, with Hoch taking personal charge of the Negaunee plant and Meeske remaining at the Marquette brewery. The next year, they had made enough money to buy the operation from White. With their purchase, Meeske and Hoch formed a company with Hoch as president, Meeske as secretary-treasurer, and two other men filling out the board of directors. That company was known as the Upper Peninsula Brewing Company.
German brewer George Rublein immigrated to the United States in the mid-19th century, arriving in Marquette, Michigan in 1849, not long after the city itself was founded. Rublein created the Franklin Brewery just outside Marquette. The brewery burned down twice, and in 1875 Rublein moved his operation to what is now the corner of Meeske Street and US41 near a natural spring, changing the name to "Concordia Brewery" in the process. Rublein built a series of frame buildings on the site which including ponds, outdoor seating and an area for live entertainment, replicating a German Biergarten.
In the 1890s, Meeske replaced the earlier frame structures at the Marquette plant with a complex of sandstone buildings, constructed to resemble small castles. The 42-acre (170,000 m2) complex included warehouses, residences, a tower, and a bottling plant. Meeske retained the German Biergarten landscaping the Rublein had initiated. The structure at the corner of Meeske and US41 was built in 1894, and served as Meeske's home and office, as well as the entrance to the brewery grounds.
In 1895, the brewery had a production capacity of between 20,000 and 25,000 barrels per year, sold under the name of Drei Kaiser (Three Kings) beer. With the onset of World War I in 1913, the name was changed to "Castle Brew."
Local prohibition groups pressured Marquette County to enact dry ordinances in 1916, four years before the beginning of country-wide Prohibition. When these ordinances were passed, the Upper Peninsula Brewing Company ended its beer production and went out of business, and Meeske moved to Duluth, Minnesota.
The current brewery building in Negaunee, was originally built as a slaughter house during Negaunee's industrial revolution. It has sat vacant for many years until it was recently purchased by Jim and Ann Kantola. Surprisingly the building was still in beautiful condition and in the fall of 2017, restoration and remodeling began. Today the rich heritage of the craft brewing industry is alive and well where it all started over 140 years ago.