The beginnings: Noel’s Brewery was Lethbridge’s earliest brewery and produced “hop beer,” a mild, 4% brew that sold for $1.50 per dozen. Hop beer can be fermented in 10 days; the beer was probably bottled and sold as soon as a batch was made. It was not aged, sediment free, or pasteurized. Noel’s Brewery was in the river bottom, just south of today’s Whoop-Up Bridge.
The next step: Fritz Sick came from Germany. He married Louise Frank in 1889 and the couple had 5 children: Louise, Fred, Emil, Helene and Leo. Fritz learned the brewing trade in breweries in Cincinnati, California and Washington. He owned or worked in breweries in Trail, Fort Steele and Fernie before coming to Lethbridge in 1901.
Fritz Sick arrived in Lethbridge with $8000 and started the Alberta Brewery. The brewery’s first brew was a lager called Alberta’s Pride. This “beer without a peer” was advertised as “concentrated liquid food” and families were encouraged to serve the beverage at meals to help maintain strong digestive organs and encourage the appetite. In 1905, the brewery began to make malt beer and changed its name to Lethbridge Brewing and Malting Co. In 1918, the brewery became Lethbridge Breweries Limited.
Fritz and his son Emil formed the Associated Breweries of Canada in 1928. This new company was an amalgamation of Lethbridge Breweries Ltd., the Prince Albert Breweries Ltd., the Regina Brewing Co. Ltd. and the New Edmonton Breweries Ltd. At the time, this was the largest brewing company amalgamation in the history of Western Canada, and resulted in the second largest brewing company in Canada. The amalgamation brought “greater economies and methods of efficiency.” This holding company became Sick’s Breweries Limited in 1944.
Fritz Sick left a lasting legacy in Lethbridge beyond his breweries. In 1943, he donated $100,000 to the City of Lethbridge for a community center and modern swimming pool. The funds provided the core facilities for the Civic Sports Center and Fritz Sick Memorial Swimming Pool although war restrictions prevented completion of the project before April 1950.