Johann Stephan Becker was born in Baden Germany. His family emigrated to America at age 16 years because of a "hatred of imperialism" and eventually settled in Winona, Minnesota. The city of Winona at the time had only a few hundred residents but it was growing quickly with immigrants from Germany, Poland and the Slavic countries.
In around 1860 Becker and (Frederick?) Neufer established a small brewery in Sugar Loaf Village, just outside of town. In 1867, 38 year old Becker joined in marriage with 25 year old Katharine Marie Foehr, the only daughter of Lorenz Foehr, the superintendent of the Melms Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their marriage produced seven children. In around 1874 Becker bought out Neufer's partnership and continued the brewery as sole proprietor. Soon after he began putting his sons, Gustav Lorenz and Albert Ernest, to work in the business.
In 1882 Becker sold a partnership to William Schellhas, a brewer from Michigan. After participating as a partner in the brewery for ten years Schellhas apparently grew restless in his position and in 1890 went out to Utah to scout a new location for a brewery of his own. He chose Ogden, and began to build. The Schellhas brewery in Ogden opened in the Spring of 1891.
In the fall of that year Schellhas, perhaps growing homesick for the bluffs along the Mississippi, made an arrangement with the Becker family in which the Becker Brewery would relocate to Schellhas's facility in Ogden and Schellhas would assume complete control of the brewery in Winona. So it was in the summer of 1892, 63 year old John Becker left his home at Sugar Loaf and moved across the country to a dusty railroad town in Utah.
On June 6th, 1892 the Becker Brewing & Malting Company was established in Ogden with $50,000 in capital stock, of which Johann and Gustav Becker controlled about $15,000. Albert Becker, who had become the superintendent of the West Side Brewery in Chicago, Illinois joined his brothers in Utah the following January and rounded out the management team. On April 1st 1893 Becker's Bohemian Beer was debuted at saloons throughout the city.
Johann Stephan Becker died on April 21st of 1918 at 90 years of age. The brewery he founded in Winona was put out of business in 1920 by National Prohibition and never returned. Despite strict Utah temperance laws the Becker Brewing & Malting Co. reopened after Prohibition and thrived for another 30 years, closing finally in 1965. Their flagship Becker Beer brand was sold to the Tivoli Brewery in Denver, Colorado which produced it into the mid 1970s.