Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Forgotten Brewery Caves - With Antiques

Winona Minnesota, summer of 2013.

A fine old brewery building, re-purposed as an antique emporium.

The brewery was established in 1856 by a Jacob Weisbord.  It moved to this site a couple of years later with a frame brewery being completed in 1862.  As is often the case, they had a fire in 1872 that destroyed the brewery.  The buildings above are mostly early 1870s, although the shop owner thought some of the 1860s building might still be in there.

Weisbord had died in 1870 and his brewmaster a Peter Bub purchased it from Weisbord's widow.  He also married her.  This happens pretty often in 19th century brewery transactions.

Bub had a good run, surviving prohibition and keeping the place operational long enough to hand it off to subsequent generations.  In fact they were still brewing long enough that a few of my slightly older friends recall drinking Bub's Beer.  They finally went under circa 1973, with a couple of years as a "shadow brewery", a contract outfit in Wisconsin making their products for a dwindling clientele.

There are three ageing caves built into Sugar Loaf Bluff behind the brewery.  Two are at present open for viewing.  Actually for shopping.

Some antiques.  Some crafts.  Some...stuff.  Note the gourds on the left.  Caves are great places for storing produce.

Swirly stone formation and incandescent lights.  Also decor for Christmas and lamps you could use if you start a 70's theme vintage motel.

Cross passage and stairs from what I think is the older cave down into the newer one.

Modern cinder block walls in an old brewery cave.  Not enough antiques to fill the entire space I guess. Of course there is also a 25,000 square foot building attached.  I am not sure what these walls were for.  You could have a bunker for storing grain or hops, I have seen that before.  But everything would have to be trundled through the brewery on hand carts which seems inefficient.  Winona is a town full of grain elevators, so why bother?  I also wonder if these caves that were used post Prohibition were retrofitted for refrigeration machinery.  But I am not seeing enough evidence for that.  There should be a lot more pipes, electrical services, maybe some remaining machinery "foot prints" on the floor.

The antiques shop owner mentioned that her father knew a lot more about the history of the place but he had just left on an errand.  She also said that there had been serious discussion about turning the place into a brew pub/eatery.  The relative pristine nature of the walls above makes me wonder if this was supposed to be a kitchen at some point.  Diners like atmospheric stone walls.  Health Department inspectors, not so much.

An interesting tour of the caves, well two of the three, associated with a mid sized brewery.  The owner was most gracious.  Sugar Loaf Antiques.  The building is for sale if you want to start your own brewery/hotel/whatever.

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