The Grain Belt Beer company once boasted that its proximity to America’s grain fields — along with that sweet Midwestern water — made it the tastiest brew in all the land. Minnesotans have been drinking the Grain Belt’s bounty since the 1890s, back when mule trains delivered it in wooden kegs.
Once Probihition was over, the company triumphantly erected the sign in Nicollet Island. The letters would light up in sequence, spelling out the name of the beverage to everyone crossing the Hennepin Avenue bridge. Grain Belt beer itself has a long and bumpy history — it’s been offered in every possible incarnation, from premium lager to bottled malt liquor.
While the beer is still available in the Twin Cities, the neon sign has been dark and dilapidated for years, while the original brewery building has been converted into a luxury living fortress. It’s unclear who owns the landmark at this point, and how much it would cost to restore it to its former neon glory (though some estimate it would cost a few hundred thousand bucks).
There there is in the process of locating the current owners/realtors so a portion of the proceeds of Grain Belt Beer tee shirt sales can be donated to relighting the aging landmark. In the meantime, our Grain Belt tee pays homage to the sign, the beverage, and the amber waves of Midwestern grain that make it all possible.