The building was constructed for the Worth County
State Bank in fall 1886, with the ground floor occupied as a bank for 20
years until the new bank was built on the lot adjoining on the west.
Butler Land Co. moved into the storefront after the bank vacated around
1907 and remained through the teens, but utility companies owned the
building from 1921 until 2006.
The first utility was the Northwood-Kensett
Electric Company, which severely altered the building in a major
“modernization” in 1935. A one-story addition doubled the length of the
structure but the most dramatic work was on the building front. The old
ornate metal cornice was removed, as were brick arches over the second
story windows that were replaced in straight lines. New backlit stained
glass panels replaced the former stained-glass-trimmed transom windows.
Black vitrolite and aluminum were used in the construction of the new
front of the building to the second floor line. The floors of the
offices and merchandise room were covered with heavy, noiseless cork
linoleum in green and black.
Lawyers had offices on the second level. The
building takes its historic name from People’s Gas and Electric, which
later became Interstate Power Company and, finally, Alliant Energy, in
the late 1990s. Peter Ausenhus and Margaret Bishop bought the building
in November 2006 and Worth Brewing Company opened its doors on St.
Patrick’s Day 2007.
Worth Brewing Company has been rehabilitated to its 1935
“modernization.” On the building front, the 1935 blue and white
flash-glass panels were a pleasant surprise underneath a plywood sign. A
bricked up front was removed and replaced with one of the largest panes
of glass in Worth County. The retractable awnings replicate those of
mid-century. Inside, most of the rehabilitation involved removing late
20th century remodeling. A false ceiling, walls and interior
rooms were removed, exposing the hand-crafted plaster walls and ceiling
molding. The innovative 1935 cork floors in the bathroom/kitchen area
were restored. The only obvious remnants of the 1886 bank are the tile
and wood floor in the front of the tap room, which were buried under
layers of plywood, linoleum and carpet.
The Bar was most likely the original bank teller cage, which
was moved to the basement of the new bank next door in 1906-07. It was
used by a veterinarian there and in the stables, later Chevrolet garage,
on the site of the current fire station. It spent several years in the
garage of Gary and Nancy Hengesteg before they donated it to the Worth
County Historical Society. The Society had no permanent space large
enough for display and decided to loan it to Worth Brewing Company. It
was moved inside by forklift just before the new storefront window was
installed. Ann Johnson and family spent several weeks refinishing the
teller cage. The cage was raised, supported by old bookshelves salvaged
from another historic building on Central. The bar top and supports are
Northwood Central Avenue Historic Distric
Our building is one of about 50 in the Northwood
Central Avenue Historic District. Most contributing buildings have
historic plaques and we hope you’ll tour the district on your next
Worth Brewing Company may be the smallest licensed
brewery in the country, making beer in 10-gallon batches for local
The brewery’s workhorse is the Sabco recirculating
mash system. This three-vessel brewhouse on a stand includes the sparge
kettle, a mash tun and boiling kettle. Malted barley is milled, mashed
and lautered (strained) into the boiling kettle, where hops are added in
at least three additions. After boiling, the sweet wort is pumped
through a plate heat exchanger to 27-gallon cylindro-conical fermenters.
Yeast is added and the wort is allowed to ferment at controlled
After fermentation the young beer is transferred to
serving kegs and kept at 35 F until tapped for consumption in our Tap
informal tours whenever it’s convenient, but don't schedule formal tours.