In the Beginning…

Grand Teton Brewing Company was founded in 1988 by Charlie and Ernie Otto as Otto Brothers’ Brewing Company.  It was the first modern “micro” brewery in the state of Wyoming. After returning from a ski and bike trip in Germany Charlie started brewing beer and experimenting with popular recipes in the kitchen of his historic log cabin at the base of Teton Pass in Wilson, Wyoming.

In the beginning the brothers scoured old brew houses and dairy farms for equipment. Their first fermentation tank was a stainless steel dairy bulk tank.  It wasn’t long before his home was overrun with friends stopping by to “sample” their beer.  The high demand led Charlie to send their friends home with a questionnaire.  Which beers do you like, and don’t like, and why?  The overwhelming positive feedback prompted Charlie, at the time an environmental educator for handicapped children, to travel to UC Davis were he took classes in Brewing Science.

In 1988 they founded Otto Brother’s’ Brewing out of a newly built shed in their back yard.  They launched Teton Ale as their flagship beer.  Soon to follow was Old Faithful Ale and Moose Juice Stout (retired).

In 1989 their father told them about a pre-prohibition container called a growler. The New England lidded tin pail was refillable at the local pub or bar by the consumer.  Charlie wanted to reintroduce the growler in a modern way and so came up with the 64oz glass jug still used by breweries today.  Through letter campaigns and ardent communication with legislature the brothers succeeded in legalizing the brewpub in Wyoming in 1992.  Thus allowing Otto Brother’s Brewing to sell beer directly to consumers from their brewery and prompting Charlie to move out of the cabin and convert it into a retail space and tasting room.  Shortly after they set up a six head hand bottling line for silk screen 22 oz. bottles.

In the spring of 1998 ground was broken on a new brewery on the other side of Teton Pass in Victor, ID.  Two years later they changed their name to Grand Teton Brewing Company.

Today Grand Teton Brewing Company is known for their renowned Cellar Reserve program.  The Cellar Reserve series of beers are unique, different even from other craft beers. They are brewed with specialty hops and malts and unique strains of yeast. Most ales and lagers are produced in 2-4 weeks. However, 3 to 8 months are spent on each of the Cellar Reserve specialty brews. They are also bottle and keg-conditioned, which produces natural carbonation that will blend and smooth the flavors with age. These beers have a long shelf life and don’t need to be rapidly consumed. Proper aging of these bottles creates beers to be cherished in the years to come.

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4 thoughts on “In the Beginning…

  1. We still have our Otto Brothers Growlers that we refilled regularly in the winters from 96-02 when we lived in JH. LOVED the Huckleberry Ale and the Porter so much!

  2. I remember in the summer of 1992 we took a trip from Michigan to the west coast, traveled to Yellowstone and made our way to Jackson Hole,Wyoming where we found out about Otto Brothers Brewery company. We were invited in for a tour by Charlie and Ernie and really enjoyed it. I inquired about purchasing a mirror if they had one and they found one lying around and dusted it off and I bought it. Don’t see to many of the first original mirrors which says Otto Brothers Brewing Co. Teton Ale Brewed in Jackson Hole Since 1988. Still have the mirror hanging along with other mirrors in my recreation bar room .

  3. Pingback: | Great Moments in Craft Beer History: The 64-Ounce Growler

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