3100 Gallon "Bright Beer" Tank
"Bright beer" storage tank made by Dunck Tank Works of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, c. 1910 and used by the Stevens Point Brewery, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, c. 1915-1995.
(Museum object #2007.83.2)
Wisconsin has always been popularly conceived of as having a strong cultural connection to beer and brewing. This huge, wooden tank, manufactured by the Dunck Tank Works, Inc. of Milwaukee, goes a long way to reinforcing that connection. Made from oak around 1910, the tank was acquired by the Stevens Point Brewery of Stevens Point, Wisconsin soon after. For eighty years, this tank was the last stop in the brewing process before its contents filled bottles and kegs for public consumption.
Unfortunately, the tank's original owner is unknown. Although no purchase records exist, the Stevens Point Brewery believes they acquired the tank around World War I, when the brewery expanded. The company built a new, brick bottling house in 1914 and an addition in 1917. At that time, the brewery would have needed additional aging and storage tanks to meet its expanded capacity. This tank stored the filtered beer ("bright beer"), under pressure, until it was racked or bottled for sale. It remained in use at the Stevens Point Brewery until 1995 when it and many other bright beer tanks and even larger aging tanks were retired from use.
The Stevens Point Brewery has a long and storied history. George Ruder and Frank Wahle first brewed beer on the current site of the brewery in 1857. Two years later Ruder moved to Wausau to establish his own brewery, while Wahle stayed on until he sold the brewery to Andrew and Jacob Lutz in 1867. The Lutz family ran the operation until they sold it to Gustav Kuenzel in 1897. Kuenzel formed the Gustav Kuenzel Brewing Company in 1901, and the next year it was reorganized as the Stevens Point Brewing Company. In 1924, in the midst of prohibition, Ludwig Korfmann purchased controlling interest and reorganized the company as the Stevens Point Beverage Company. Ownership changed hands over the years and today, the Stevens Point Brewery is the fifth oldest continuously operating brewery in the United States.
John Dunck began working as a carpenter in Milwaukee in the late 1860s. By the 1870s he was making pumps, and in the 1880s he manufactured cisterns. In the late 1890s his business expanded to the manufacture of larger vats and tanks. In 1900 his sons, Henry and John, Jr., took over the family business and formed the Dunck Brothers Company. By 1906 Henry was listed as proprietor and the company had become the Dunck Tank Works, Inc. The business expanded to multiple Milwaukee locations and stayed in the family over the generations until around 1960.
[Sources: "Stevens Point Brewers of the Past" online content; Stevens Point Brewery website at www.pointbeer.com.]
Posted on June 28, 2007
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- Business, Technology, & Labor