Monday, November 21, 2016

Forgotten Brewery Caves - Under the Science Museum

Welcome to St. Paul, capitol of the fine state of Minnesota.  As you can see it is right on the Mississippi River.  Note also that the entire city is perched on some impressive sandstone cliffs.  The combination of cliffs, early settlement and a heavily German citizenry made it a major center for brewing. 

 I have stopped by St. Paul a few time already to look at Forgotten Brewery Caves, for instance:  HERE and HERE.

Today a peek at a well hidden cave site.

The Science Museum of Minnesota is built right into the side of the bluff.  If you go into their parking ramp and peek over the side you will see far below, the characteristic archway of a brewery cave.

But there is no need to admire it from afar, just go down to the lowest level of the ramp.

And a little closer up.

This appears to be the cave used by The City Brewery, which was started by a Dominic Troyer in 1855.  In 1860 Troyer decided to return to Europe and sold the brewery to a partnership of Funk and Schwitzer.  Through a few more ownership shuffles it eventually became the Frederick Emmert Brewery, and at a peak production of 6,000 barrels a year circa 1880 it was a major player.  After his death in 1889 Emmert's sons ran the brewery until the turn of the century after which it was sold to the rival Hamm's Brewery who used it for storage.

A pilgrimage to this cave site is clearly no problem.  I suggest a visit to the Science Museum too, its very well done.  St. Paul of course has many brewery caves.  You can read about some of them in other corners of the Internet but I am not going to publicize any of the more famous ones.  

The problem is that brewing beer in St. Paul was such a great success that the breweries excavated some whopping great caves, especially in the 1870s when their original pioneer locations became too cramped.  Some of these caves are decidedly unsafe and there have over the years been a string of fatal accidents associated with them. 

This would be an excellent time to mention again that just because brewery caves are fascinating is not a reason to go into them.  Some are deadly.  Outside one of the bigger cave complexes in St. Paul you see this somber sign:

Good advice.  It should be so obvious.  But although the city keeps sealing the entrances to the caves, foolish young people keep finding new ways in.  In 2004 three more teens died in the same caves, again from carbon monoxide poisoing.

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