56 Walter’s


Walters beer is a drink with a rich impact on the history of brewing and bringing a different look to North America, on how a beer tastes and is made. The Walters Brewing company was founded in 1874 in Spencer Wisconsin by a German man named Johannes Walter. Johannes Walter and his family thrived to make the refreshing beverage the best of its time by bringing a very different look to beer in Wisconsin, The Walters brought their heritage of beer from Germany over with them by producing a lager in a place that is accustomed to ales. The Walters family had their ups and downs in their history of brewing and this chapter is going to go over all of them.



Walters brewing company originated in Spencer Wisconsin and was created by a German man named Johannes Walter and his family. The Walters started the business of brewing Walters Beer in 1874. Johannes Walter and his brothers migrated from their hometown of Bergfelden, Germany in search of a better life in America, this lead them into producing a more German view on their beer bringing Wisconsin a delicious lager,  in a place where people were accustomed to ales and ports. Using the brewing techniques they learned in German the Walters beer became a fan favorite in Wisconsin Fast as it was nothing like the rest of the beer being brewed in Wisconsin at the time. The Walters Brewing company faced many challenges throughout the history of their brewing passion, some of these included multiple fires and prohibitions.


Key Milestones

The Walters family saw many key milestones in the time they were brewing Walters beer, as starting the brewing company in 1874. they faced many different struggles but one of the most challenging being the federal Prohibition in 1915 causing the plant to close down during this period of time. During the prohibition, Johannes Walter passed away so in 1933 when the prohibition ended, The Walters Brewing Company in Eau Clair would go under new management when it was purchased by some of Johannes’s relatives Martin, Edgar, and Charles Walter. Walters Beer started to thrive and overcome its struggles between the brewery fires and prohibition it was not enough to keep the Walters family down by 1950 they were the largest brewer in America.


Brewing Science and Industrialization

The industrial revolution had a great impact on the whole brewing industry and can even be said to be one of the best things that happened for the advance of beer as we know it today. Today we take a closer look into how the revolution affected Walter’s beer company in Spencer Wisconsin.  Walters beer was created shortly after the industrial revolution but that does change how they were affected by it, The Walters family took full advantage of the perks that came with the revolution. Walters beer took advantage of the bottling process, steam engines, refrigeration, and many more inventions that came with the industrial revolution. these helped them become the brand that they were by giving them the ability to produce beer faster, bottle it for transportation, and then distribute it from their brewery. As for Wisconsin, they were a little farther behind in the race for the revolution as very little happened until the revolution started gaining speed in the 1840s by the 1860s the brewing industry finally got their taste of the revolution allowing companies and future companies like our very own walters beer to thrive and have factory’s and put themselves on the national market.

Beer Style

Walters beer is a classic lager, with 4% alcohol. it is no surprise that walters beer produces a nice clean, crisp lager with the german background the Walter family has.  Walters beer is aged for 40 days and is left to ferment at near freezing temperatures to achieve the wonderful smooth taste and great aroma. This beer style became very popular in the Wisconsin area from the Walters family as this was an area that had never seen a lager yet and mostly had ales and ports.

 The WW1 and WW2 Era 

Beer had a much bigger impact than some may think, in WW1 they focused on the anti-alcohol movement in soldiers and civilians. this was to save grain and other resources needed for the war although not the only reason the government saw an opportunity to limit the consumption of alcohol to reduce drunkness and increase productivity. This was a hard hit for all breweries including Walters beer, the Eau Claire Walters brewery even had to shut down until 1933 when the prohibitions ended. In WW2 the prohibitions weren’t in place but still had a huge impact on the production of beer through North America. Taxes on beer were increased and production was limited. almost all the beer was getting shipped overseas to go and help support the troops this caused a short-term shortage at the home front as a consequence of the war. sales started to rise and the brewery was up and running in full effect once the war was over, beer became an American drink, and views on it were greatly changed this was a long-term consequence that positively affected walters from the war.

Consolidation and globalization

The Walters beer company opened in 1874 and has seen some of the best and worst times in beer history like WW1 and WW2, today we are going to look at how The Walters Brewing Company began to thrive after these times and how they took to the globalization of beer. Walters beer company struggled a lot during war times and shortly after for their German roots but it didn’t stay all grey clouds and rain and  “by 1950 the Walter’s family was the largest brewer in America”(https://walters.beer/our-history/). Walters beer company’s downfall really started with the globalization of the beer industry, where companies like Labatt, Busch and Pabst began to really thrive and grow. This made Walters beer close all its breweries but the Eau Claire brewery by the 1970s. Walters beer simply just couldn’t keep up and in 1989 the last brewery closed its doors. 

Marketing and branding 

Marketing and Branding in the brewing industry is very important, This is what separates your brewery and beer, apart from all the other options on the market. The Walters beer companies had a very good understanding of how to brand their beer. They did this in many different ways but one that stood out was their catchphrase or slogan which is “ Beer that is Beer”. This hits the “ brand elements” in many different ways for example brand positioning. The statement made in their slogan “Beer that is Beer” makes their customer view their beer as a strong original beer that is everything you think when you hear the word beer. This slogan also hits the mark on the “brand promise” by exclaiming “Beer that is Beer” is a brand promise that their beer is beer and nothing more than a nice crisp authentic lager.

Modern Era

The modern era of beer has seen many different and constantly changing contemporary trends, unfortunately, The Walters Beer company did not make it to see them with the last brewery closing in Eau Claire in 1989 as stated by (https://walters.beer/our-history/). They may not have made it to see them but in my opinion here are some they would have taken advantage of. I think they would have capitalized on beer tourism as they have a very interesting origin story on how they immigrated to the USA from Germany and opened a brewery, I think this would bring in lots of people looking for a taste of a German lager. I believe neolocalism would be another contemporary trend they could use to help their business as they would have deep roots and lots of history in the town of Eau Claire.


Lee. (1970, January 1). The George Walter Brewing Company – Brewers of adler brau beer, by Brian Zenefski. The George Walter Brewing Company – Brewers of Adler Brau Beer, By Brian Zenefski. Retrieved February 3, 2022, from http://oshkoshbeer.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-george-walter-brewing-company.html

Manufacturing in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Historical Society. (2012, August 3). Retrieved March 10, 2022, from https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Article/CS1713

Our history. Walters Beer. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://walters.beer/our-history/

Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, October 13). Walter Brewing Company. Wikipedia. Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Brewing_Company



Image 1-https://walters.beer/our-history/

Image 2-http://oshkoshbeer.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-george-walter-brewing-company.html

Image 3 – https://walters.beer/the-beers/




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Beer Through the Ages Copyright © by Jordanne Christie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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