Grain Belt Bottle Cap Sign – Minneapolis, Minnesota - Atlas Obscura

Grain Belt Bottle Cap Sign

This landmark honoring a local beer brand is an iconic part of the Minneapolis skyline. 


Located next to the Hennepin Avenue Bridge over Nicollet Island stands this beloved sign that has stood the test of time. Built in 1941 and measuring 50 feet wide by 40 feet tall, the sign advertises Grain Belt Brewery. In operation in the Twin Cities since 1860, the bottle cap design is a nod to the brewery’s prevalence in local packaged beer sales.

It was one of the largest freestanding neon signs in the Midwest—until the lights went out in 1976. Years of relocations, weathering, and hungry squirrels chewing up wires took a toll on the classic sign.

Restoration efforts were rocky and expensive, marred by financial disputes and changing brewery leadership. The lights didn’t come on again until 1989. That success was short-lived, however, and the sign only worked intermittently for a few years. It went dark once again in 1996 and remained so for 20 years.

After another campaign to rehabilitate the sign, it was finally relit in 2017 with more reliable LEDs replacing the neon tubes. The original bottlecap design remained unchanged.

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