Monday, October 13, 2014

Forgotten Brewery Caves - News from Here and There

If you ponder the number of breweries in America between 1850 and 1880, there were a lot of them. Something like 4,000 circa 1870.  A few went on to become the "Prohibition Survivors". Many were either small town operations or even over grown home breweries.  They all needed some means of keeping lager beer cold which involved a combination of underground storage and ice harvesting.

This makes for a lot of brewery caves out there.  I suspect most of them are in the northern half of the country, and of course places with hills and bluffs would be ideal for them.  Considering that some breweries had more than one cave I feel confident in saying that there were at various points in time thousands of brewery caves in existence.  So, where are they now?

Many are still in deep hiding.  Some have been obliterated by "progress"  But every once in a while I run across a tidbit of news that gives us a fleeting clue about a cave...all too often just before it gets filled in/sealed off forever.

Dateline Cedar Rapids Iowa, fall of 2014.

Up to 14 beer caves?

The article mentions an extensive study that had been commissioned when this cave complex was found under a highway.  Note the big steel beams supporting same.  I think the concept of 14 caves is misleading.  14 rooms connected into a couple of cave systems makes more sense. Note that this report appeared in the local news media in Iowa.  So I am not putting new temptation in front of anybody who has a computer.  But these are certainly not safe caves to try and enter.  And they have already been mostly filled in.

Bed, Breakfast and Brewery Cave

Taylors Falls Minnesota is a very pretty town and the Bed and Breakfast linked above looks cute.  A fellow cave enthusiast stayed there once and gave me this image.  The archway leads into a remnant of a cave system.  There is a Jacuzzi set up back there which seems pretty relaxing.  There are of course a few rumors about later uses of the building that you might want to explore before getting too comfortable....

The Caves of Faribault

This is about the closest any historic brewery cave comes to being used as intended.  Cheese, not beer but still the same concept.  I guess one entrance is visible but the caves proper are off limits.  Bleu cheese needs a very specific micro environment and you are not going to help it. This is a shame, the photos suggest it is a very impressive cave system.

Here is a story that really pleased me.  A cave from the first brewery in Nebraska, later re-purposed as a coffee house for folk music!

Fun stories from caves that I will most likely never have the opportunity to visit.

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