Minhas Brewery in Monroe re-opens after devastating fire - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Minhas Brewery in Monroe re-opens after devastating fire


MONROE (WKOW)-- Two days after a massive fire that caused more than $500,000 in damage, crews work to rebuild the damaged side of the brewery. On the other side nearly a hundred tourists stopped stopping by for a visit on Saturday. Some had no clue about Thursday's fire until they stepped in the front door.

"The damage from the fire is one thing, but the secondary damage from t he smoke and the debris was kind of an unpleasent surprise the next day," Minhas Brewery President Gary Olson says.

Three daily tours on Saturday carried on as planned, but parts of the brewery are still dark with electricity still out in certain sections of the building.

"The section where the fire was, if there is such a thing as a good place to have a fire, it was there. It wasn't in the really old section of our brewery. The older section is a lot more wood construction," Olson says.

Owners say the fire started when a crew of workers from a third party company came into spray foam insulation. Some chemicals were ignited and the flames quickly spread through the rafters of the brewery. Nearly a dozen fire departments came to put out the flames.

Thursday's fire wasn't the first to happen at the brewery. Over their long history they've had several fires with varying degrees of destruction, but they say the worst one actually happened in 1855.

To put out the flames workers dumped hundreds of gallons of beer over the fire or so the story goes. The setback owners faced then is reminiscent to the one owners now face today. They're adamant that the recent fire won't affect their plans to grow the company in the near future.

"It's a bump in the road surely and it's an unpleasant event, but it's not going to stop our growth by any means," Olson says.

The brewery has been owned by six different families and has undergone several name changes since it opened in 1845. The brewery was built before the city of Monroe even existed. The state of Wisconsin wasn't officially declared a state until three years after the brewery opened its doors.

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