In my post on forgotten brewery caves in Hastings Minnesota I made brief mention of a brewery on the western shore of Lake Isabella.
This was an establishment called The Lake Brewery, started by a Charles Saille in 1867. It went through the customary ownership changes, being for most of its existence operated by a father-son team of John and Frederick Busch.
In 1879 an ageing cave was excavated into the bank of the lake and lined with concrete.
Fred Busch was a success both as a brewer and in politics, serving several terms on City Council and being elected Mayor of Hastings in 1899.
In 1901 Mayor Busch made a complicated business deal whereby the brewery, two houses, several empty lots, the Bibbins Hotel and a brick malt house were traded to the Minneapolis Brewing Company of Minneapolis in exchange for a large improved farm in Ipswitch South Dakota.
The facilities were then presumably used as a subsidiary of the massive Minneapolis Brewing corporation.
A fire in 1904 destroyed the brewery and it was never rebuilt.
With the above information I had a pretty clear notion of where the caves should be, but on a trip to Hastings last year it was apparent that they were on private property. I could look out towards the lake shore from the road but could see nothing other than a modest lakeside home.
Of course in the winter one can stroll across the ice in perfect compliance with trespass laws!
This is the little blue house from the lake side. It is sitting atop an old stone foundation and has next to it a massive block of stonework. Note the white railing on top. This is very similar to the impromptu patio that we found on top of the brewery cave site on the other side of the lake.
Zooming in closer....
Note the nicely mortared, tight stonework above, and the loose rock slopped in below. This appears to be the remains of an arched entrance, with a great deal of modern embankment further covering it.
I think this is actually two cave entrances, a larger central one where the bigger patch of loose stone is and a smaller one to the right, where the remains of an arch can be faintly seen. There may well have been another small entrance to the left, as a pattern of one large arch flanked by two smaller ones appears to be pretty common and would fit the symmetry of the masonry structure. I think this small-large-small pattern was designed to put ice blocks in the center to cool the caves on either side. The advantages of having this structure next to a frozen lake are obvious.
This may seem like a little too much guess work, but as I finished snapping these photos a small, cutesy-pie white dog appeared and started yipping at me. I walked a few feet and saw a guy in a baseball cap leaning against the side of the house, smoking.
I had the distinct impression that he was not allowed to do this indoors, and as he seemed to be having a moment of relaxation I struck up a conversation.
"Hey, is your house part of the old brewery?"
"Uh, I don't know. But somebody told me there were tunnels underneath it."
"Are they still down there somewhere?"
"Nah, I don't think so."
"Oh, too bad."
Of course the tunnels are still down there, underneath the patio. If it were my house I would for sure excavate them and make a secret connection from the house. (This could be an ice house from back in the day, but the newspaper article makes it sound like the 1904 fire was a total loss).
It would be a too small to launch a fishing boat out of, but think of how cool it would be as a place to keep kayaks and canoes.