Monday, September 21, 2015

Forgotten Brewery Caves - Strawberry Point Iowa

You might think you couldn't find a more rural, impractical place to build a brewery than Strawberry Point Iowa. Well, how about a little valley several miles outside of Strawberry Point, in a place that at least today has almost no neighbors.  

Welcome to Kleinlein Hollow, circa 1870s

The brewery is on the left, built into the hillside.  The tall structure on the right is a mill. Outbuildings and a farmhouse were in the middle, and in fact are still there.

Gottlieb Kleinlein came here with his father John in the late 1850s. The built a mill first, circa 1858, with the brewery to follow in 1865.
The Kleinlein brewery somehow managed to stay in business until 1904....minus of course the official shut downs during Iowa's intermittent flirtation with state wide Prohibition.  Of its history I can tell you little, other than that it is recorded that its brew master, a fellow named Frederick Zeuch, was killed there in 1879 when a barrel of beer fell on him.

After it went under as a brewery the building was used as a stable.  It is in rather ruinous condition after many years of abandonment.

The brewery today.

Here I peeked into a window. Nice stone work with a hint of an arch in the back of the building. This was probably a support structure as there is no cave associated with it.

As to where the cave actually was, well, eventually I found this image from 1920.  It shows the cave going into the hillside in front of the brewery.  You can just make this out in the 1870s view.  It looks to have been the standard arched vault that you tend to find when there is not a solid stone face. I walked around the brewery building a couple of times scrutinizing all likely spots including this one. No trace was left in the late summer of 2015.

A word on visiting.  It takes a bit of looking to find the place.  Start on Highway 13 north of Strawberry Point.  Turn west on Belgian Road.  After a few lonely miles you find a short street called 350th.  This is the only thing on it.

When we visited I dutifully knocked on the farm house door and went around the various outbuildings to see if I could find anybody home.  Nobody there but some friendly cats.  I did snap a picture or two but technically I guess I was trespassing.  I believe the farm stead is still in the hands of the Kleinlein family after all these years.

The brewery building of course is unsafe.

Some nice professional pictures of it can be found HERE

1 comment:

Retired Nurse said...

Love your post here. I grew up a mile from the brewery and that farm. The Kleinlein family no longer owns or lives on the property but they do reside in the area. How did you find your info. I would love to hear more about your trip to this brewery. Do you live in the area, like in Iowa?