Friday, September 23, 2016

Forgotten Brewery Caves - Horicon Wisconsin

The best way to get information on local historical sites is to just stroll up and start asking questions.  So weekends when folks are out doing yard work and such are ideal.

We were passing through Horicon Wisconsin on a very warm Saturday afternoon.  So when I went up to 518 South Hubbard Street I found a couple of guys doing renovation work on it. The young man who is the owner of the house was happy to talk about it and when I said I had heard it had been a brewery he immediately took me to the back yard to show off the cave.

The house may not look much like the grand fantasy castle buildings that housed later and more successful brewing enterprises but that just makes it more special.  It recalls an era when anybody with a substantial house, a few outbuildings and a hillside for a storage cave could set themselves up in business.  Most of course only lasted a few years.  There is no way to tell how many of these small enterprises actually existed in odd little corners of the Midwest, lets just say "lots".

The above is the Paul Deierlein brewery.  The house/brewery was built in 1859 and was Horicon's first such enterprise.  It managed to stay in business until 1891 after apparently being owned in succession by Charles and then John Deierlein.  As usual the picture is muddied by family ownership.  Perhaps Father and Sons, perhaps Brothers.  

The storage cave is at the back of the lot on the hillside running down to the river.  It appears to have been reinforced with cement at one point.  It is on private property and should not be visited without permission.  But as I said the owner is happy to share the history of his historic property so asking is not unreasonable.

Supposedly there was at least one other small brewery on Hubbard Street that presumably took advantage of the same hillside.  There is a dam on the river today and I suspect it is an old mill pond. That would make getting ice for the storage caves fairly easy.

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