Christoph Kusterer immigrated from Germany to Grand Rapids in 1844. He was a braumeister trained in the traditions of the old country, and upon his arrival in Grand Rapids, he set up a brewery on the city's West Side. Kusterer formed a partnership with the only other brewer in town, Englishman John Pannell, and together they kept Grand Rapids well supplied with beer. In 1849, Kusterer bought out Pannell, and built the City Brewery on the Southwest corner of Michigan Street and Ionia Avenue. He chose this site because it sat directly above a spring of pure water fed from an aquifer beneath the Grand River. As a result, Kusterer's beer was likely of a significantly higher quality than his competitors, who did not have access to high quality water.
Over the years Kusterer became a prominent member of his local community. Kusterer's life came to a tragic end in October 1880 when he, along with all others on board, went down with the steamer Alpena in a violent Lake Michigan storm. His brewing business, however, was carried on by his sons and grandsons, and the Kusterer name remained linked to the brewing of lager beer in Grand Rapids well into the twentieth century.
Grand Rapids Brewing Company Consolidation
The City Brewery operated independently until 1893, when it became one of the six breweries which consolidated to form the Grand Rapids Brewing Company. Following the consolidation, Charles F. Kusterer, the son of Christoph Kusterer, became the President of the new Grand Rapids Brewing Company.
In 1893, these six Grand Rapids Breweries consolidated to form the Grand Rapids Brewing Company.
- Kusterer Brewing Company's City Brewery
- George Brandt and Company's Union Brewery
- Frey Brothers Coldbrook Brewery
- Veit and Rathman's Eagle Brewery
- Tusch Brothers Cincinnati Brewery
- Adolph Goetz's National Brewery
1. Wilhelm W. Seeger. The Braumeisters of Old Grand Rapids. Grand River Valley Review, Volume VIII, Number 1. 1988
2. Original photograph is part of the Grand Rapids History & Special Collections, Archives, Grand Rapids Public Library