In 2012, the storied Frankenmuth Brewery will be 150-years-old. In anticipation of this monumental occasion, we decided to take a brief look at the history of the original Michigan microbrewery.
The Frankenmuth story begins in 1857 when John Matthias Falliers founded the first brewery in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Five years later in 1862, William Knaust and Martin Heubisch opened the Cass River Brewery just north of the Falliers’ Frankenmuth site. In 1874, Johann Geyer purchased the Cass River Brewery from Knaust and Heubisch, eventually renaming it Frankenmuth Brewing Co.
The brewery remained in the Geyer family for the next 112 years before being sold to a German businessman named Ferdinand Schumacher. Tragically, the brewery was nearly burned to the ground just one year after Schumacher purchased it. Some of the original structure was salvaged and by 1990, Frankenmuth was sold to Randall Heine.
Heine was able to steer Frankenmuth back on track, eventually hitting a production peak of 30,000 barrels distributed across 25 states in 1996. Then, on June 21, 1996 tragedy struck again. This time, in the form of an F3 tornado that tore into the brewery causing millions of dollars in damage. Frankenmuth Brewery was essentially crippled until 2003 when a brew pub was opened, only to be closed three years later when the Heine family was denied a loan necessary to keep the brewery open.
In January 2009, Haithem and Anmar Sarafa purchased Frankenmuth Brewery and had it back up and running by that summer. Today, the brewery and adjoining restaurant are bustling once more, making Frankenmuth not only Michigan’s longest running craft brewery, but also one of its most celebrated.