Theodore Hamm was born in Germany in 1825 and came to St. Paul at the age of 31. Nine years later, in 1865, he inherited a mill and the Excelsior Brewery from his friend and business associate, A. F. Kellar. Kellar had built the brewery over deep artesian wells situated in the sandstone bluffs above the Phalen Creek valley (known as Swede's Hollow).
A view of the Hamm Brewery from Swede's Hollow. Mr. Hamm's mansion stands at upper right, like a medieval castle looming over a village of serfs. . .
Hamm hired Chris Figg as masterbrewer, and by the end of his first year had five employees, who churned out 500 barrels of beer. By 1886, Theodore was joined by his son, William, and they employed 75 employees. Turning out 40,000 barrels that year, the T. Hamm Brewing Co. was the second largest in the state.
Theodore Hamm passed away in 1903, leaving the operation to his son and grandson, William Jr. By 1912, the brewery was producing 2000 barrels of beer per day. It continued to prosper up until and through Prohibition, manufacturing near beer, soft drinks, syrups, ice, cigars, and even sardines.
In 1968, after years of takeovers and buyouts in order to become a national brand, Hamm's itself was bought by the Heublein Brewing Company, which in turn sold the brewery to Olympia, which would eventually merge with Pabst. The Stroh Brewing Company acquired the brewery in 1984 and it stands so today. Although little remains of the original structures, the plant is still an impressive place, looming at the head of Phalen Creek.