Grain Belt Beer sign at night, Nicollet Island, 1970s
An image from the Municipal Information Library slide collection which we are in the process of digitizing.
This sign was built in 1940 and faces downtown. It was lit until 1976 when Grain Belt Brewery was sold to G. Heileman Brewing Company. Convinced by the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (Nicollet Island is in the St. Anthony Falls Historic District) and the Eastman family (that own the land the sign sits on) to renovate it and relight it, Heileman did so in 1989. The sign went dark again in 1991 when Grain Belt was sold to Minnesota Brewing Company (the maker of Pig’s Eye Pilsner). It was re-lit briefly in 1992 by Minnesota Brewing and stayed lit until 1996 when the financially strapped brewery could no longer afford the maintenance contract. When lit it contains 1,400 light bulbs and 800 feet of neon tubes. In 2010 a developer proposed converting the sign to LED lights and current Grain Belt owner August Schell Brewing was on board to contribute to the renovation but it did not go forward.