Nevada's longest-operating brewery was established in Carson City by John
Wagner in 1860 during the rush to Virginia City. Business was prospering
by 1864, so a new two-story brewery was built in 1865 in the commercial
form of Classical Revival, on the corner of Division and King streets,
where it stands today. The brewery and a bar were on the main floor and
the upper floor served as the Masonic Lodge from 1865 to 1919. The Carson
Brewery made steam beer, a bottom-fermenting brew produced without the
constant cold temperatures required by lagers. The pure water came from
King's Canyon Creek west of town. Hops and barley were mostly imported
from California. The brewery delivered barrels, kegs and bottles of beer
to local saloons, Comstock tap rooms and other towns around the state.
Five kegs a week were also shipped to San Francisco for some Nevada-based
customers who would drink no other brand.
Carson Brewing Company
Photo by Terri McBride,
Courtesy of Nevada State Historic Preservation Office
The brewery was sold in 1900 to James Raycraft and Frank Golden, who incorporated
and changed the name to Carson Brewing Company. In 1910, brewmaster Fritz
Hagmeyer persuaded his brother-in-law, Max Stenz, to purchase the operation.
Stenz converted from steam beer to lager in 1913, and labeled his new
product Tahoe Beer, "Famous as the Lake." He made several major improvements,
including adding a cold storage room and new boiler, and expanding the
bottling operation, by bottling soft drinks and mineral water from Carson
Hot Springs, as well as packaging artificial ice.
Historic images of the Carson City
Photos courtesy of Carson City Planning and Community Development
By the 1940s, large brewing companies were buying local beer businesses
throughout the country. Arnold Millard, who bought the brewery in 1926
from his father-in-law Stenz, liquidated the business in 1948. After
88 years of continuous operation, this was the end of the longest-running
brewery in the state and one of Nevada's oldest businesses. After 1948,
the building was the home of the Nevada Appeal newspaper, and
today, is the site of the Brewery Arts Center, which received grant
funds from the National Park Service's Historic Preservation Fund for
its restoration program. An exhibit on the history of the Carson Brewing
Company is located at the Arts Center.
The Carson Brewing Company is located at 449 W. King St., on the
southwest corner of King and Division sts. in Carson City. The building
is open to the public 10:00am to 4:00pm, Monday-Saturday. Call 775-883-1976
or visit the Brewery
Arts Center website for a schedule of events and performances.