Dubuque Star Brewery

500 E. Fifth St., Dubuque, Iowa

A multi-story building on the banks of the Mississippi River that has served as a brewery since its inception


Overview Looking Northwest

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in June 2012




Joseph Rhomberg founded the Star Brewery in 1898, one of over 100 small brewers in Iowa at the time. It was one of the few that reopened after the repeal of the 18th Amendment. The brewery reopened in 1933 as the Dubuque Star Brewery.

In 1971, Joseph Pickett took ownership of the brewery. It was in bad shape, flooding in 1965 had taken its toll, but the brewery was ill-equipped for the modern market, the equipment went back to the depression era and did not have a can line. Pickett began a modernization program that was nearly complete when Hollywood came calling. Part of the brewery was used in the filming of the Sylvester Stalone vehicle F.I.S.T. when Dubuque became a stand-in for Pittsburgh. Later, the bottling line was used in the 1981 comedy Take This Job and Shove It.

Pickett sold the brewery in 1980. It has changed hands and brands several times since then.

Today, it is a micro-brewery, the old brew kettle is in place but acts as decor for the restaurant and not for brewing beer. Some of the original equipment remains on display as museum pieces. The building overlooks, and is a feature of, Dubuque's river walk.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on April 24, 2007
Reference number
Architectural style
Victorian: Romanesque
Areas of significance
Industry; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Periods of significance
1875-1899; 1900-1924; 1925-1949; 1950-1974
Significant years
1899; 1935; 1946


19th Century (36,806)
Brewery (13)
Brick (42,459)
Building (4,188)
Built 1899 (541)
Built during 1890s (7,316)
Dubuque County, Iowa (71)
Dubuque, Iowa (51)
Dubuque, Iowa MPS (6)
Fred Rautert (1)
Iowa (2,477)
Private owner (54,396)
Romanesque (2,714)
Victorian (19,696)

Update Log 

  • September 15, 2012: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated GPS and added description