This is the Chippewa River Distillery and Brewster Brothers Brewing Company on River Street in Chippewa Falls. You could sail a beer coaster from here a few yards down the road and land it where Francis X. set up shop circa 1856. Oh, but there have been some changes.
In addition to the modern exterior - which is a mixture of new construction and the integration of an old video store, tanning salon and rental company - the inside is all high tech and sparkly.
The proprietors got their start in the computer industry and the whole place is highly automated. Schmidmayer would hardly recognize things.
But technology in and of itself is useless unless it puts a good product into the glass or the bottle. And they do.
I had an enjoyable chat with the modern day brewers the other day, telling them a few facts and guesses about their predecessor. It was a hot day so we had a beer first before walking a few steps to where the original Schmidmayer Brewery had been.
Dreary storage buildings now occupy the site. The traces of the early brewery are almost gone. I think I can see where Schmidmayer's storage cave has collapsed. And off on one end of the site I was delighted to find that his original water source, a series of natural springs, have been diverted into a culvert but are still running strong and clear.
Humans have always had a sense that springs and running water have a connection to the spirit world. So it pleases me to think that the spirit of Francis Xavier Schmidmayer still has some faint connection to this place. And that when he inhales the hoppy aroma of brewing beer for the first time in 136 years that it gives his insubstantial spirit some small pleasure.