In 1870, the Kurth Brewery was the largest of three breweries in Columbus. Founded by immigrants from Hesse-Kassel in central Germany, the company produced one hundred barrels of its “creamy, dreamy” beer each day by 1914. It also began marketing malted barley as a sideline, and soon its malting operation ranked among the country’s largest, making it a leading consumer of Wisconsin’s barley crop. But after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, mass-marketed beers began to dominate the industry, weakening small local breweries. In 1949, the Kurths brewed their last barrel of beer.
Only the office building and beer cellar remain from the original brewery complex, which once included a grain elevator, a malt house, two icehouses, an electric plant, a cooperage, a bottling plant, and warehouses. The office building, constructed of yellow quarry-faced limestone, features flat stone lintels and a heavy stone cornice supported by a row of modillions. Along the parapet, a remnant of the original sign spells out “Kurth” in metal letters.
Inside, the taproom looks exactly as it did when it opened in 1903. The cherry and oak bar is trimmed with classical molding and pilasters. At the oak backbar, fluted Doric columns, a heavy entablature, and a shallow cabinet frame a three-part mirror. Oak wain-scoting along the walls, a large oak icebox, original light fixtures, and historic signs complete the period setting.