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Downtown Dubuque, Iowa Walking Tour
Item 11 of 12
Located on the Mississippi riverfront, the Dubuque Star Brewery has been operating since 1898. Today, the City of Dubuque leases the building out to various businesses. One of its current main attractions is the Stone Cliff Winery, which operates on its ground floor. The brewery was built in 1898 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places

  • The old brewery is now home to Stone Cliff Winery. It was built in 1898 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
The Dubuque Star Brewery was originally opened in 1898 by Joseph Rhomberg. At the time, it was known simply as the Dubuque Star. Before prohibition, the brewery was known for the production of its signature beer, the Dubuque Star Beer. Like most other breweries, the Dubuque Star was forced to close because of prohibition. Later, it was one of the few breweries in Iowa to reopen post-prohibition.

The Dubuque Star had some rough patches after this point. Due to its proximity to the Mississippi River, there was always a risk of flooding. Precautions were taken, and physical protections were put in place, but later flooding still overcame these. After a very turbulent flooding season in 1965, the brewery sustained considerable flooding damage.

The going was tough from that point onwards. Ownership of the brewery changed many times, but none of its new owners were able to successfully sustain their business for more than a handful of years. Eventually, Dubuque leveraged eminent domain to acquire the building for the city's purposes as part of a larger project to renovate the riverfront. The plan was to lease parts of the building to tenants.

For some time, the city was unable to draw tenants to the building, as had been their hope. The Dubuque Star Brewery was empty for some years. This finally changed in 2006, when Stone Cliff Winery agreed to accept the city's offer and lease a significant portion of the building's ground floor. At the opening of Stone Cliffy Winery in 2007, this area was used as a winery and wine tasting center. In the present day, the Dubuque Star is still used by Stone Cliff Winery. The upper floors are occupied by various other businesses.
"Dubuque Star Brewery." Encyclopedia Dubuque. Accessed February 15, 2019.