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WCCO Viewers' Choice For The Best Brewery In Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The story of Schell's Brewery in New Ulm reads like a book that you just can't put down.

If you are a history buff, know that a tour through the museum is much more than a walk down memory lane.

The country's second-oldest brewery, this place is literally a time capsule of beer-brewing history in the New World.

August Schell started it all back in 1860. Two years later, turmoil came New Ulm's way during the Dakota Uprising.

During the Battles of New Ulm, the Dakota were burning homes and businesses in and around the city, and the Schell's family reluctantly evacuated.

"Kind of expected nothing to be here, but it survived," said Ted Marti, the president of Schell's Brewing, and August Schell's great, great grandson. "And part of that was Mrs. Schell was very good to the Dakota."

And being good neighbors to the people in and around New Ulm is one of the reasons they were one of the few breweries to make it through prohibition, and then the Great Depression.

Schell's Brewery
(credit: CBS)

"I don't know that we would have survived if it weren't from New Ulm," Marti said.

It's easy to see that Marti's roots run deep in New Ulm. And no doubt, he has a passion for the history.

"They don't make me do tours much anymore because I talk too much!" Marti said.

But it was Marti's business sense that brought Schell's out of the doldrums in the early 90s, by introducing a lineup of German-inspired craft beers -- before "craft beer" was even a phrase.

And then he reintroduced us to an old friend: Grain Belt Beer.

"The distributors loved [when we announced we were buying Grain Belt] because they knew we would take care of the brand," Marti said.

And that he did. And with the highly-successful launch of Grain Belt Nordeast, it's pretty much a forgone conclusion that Schell's will be brewing beer for perhaps another 150 years.

"There's a lot of breweries that have grown up that don't know hardship yet," Marti said. "We do and we appreciate every glass of beer we sell."

Summer brewery tours run seven days a week. Tickets are sold first come-first serve for $5 when the museum opens.

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