Last week I mentioned that the Potosi Brewery was putting out a "Cave Ale" as more or less a homage to the old ways of brewing. Not that the cave was actually involved in the process.
Well, another brewery did it one better.
In 2015 the Schell's Brewery in New Ulm, Minnesota announced that they would be producing a "Cave Lager" actually aged in the 1860's brewery caves under their plant. It is a dark lager, in keeping with the prevalent style of that era.
The August Schell Brewery goes back quite a ways by Midwest standards. It was founded in 1860, two years after Minnesota became a state. Schell set up his brewery outside of New Ulm but, supposedly due to his generosity to the Native Americans, it was unscathed when New Ulm was besieged during the Sioux Uprising (alt title, The Dakota War) of 1862. Remarkably the brewery is still family owned, the second largest of such still remaining in the U.S.
I remember it falling on some difficult times in the 1970's...their signature "Deer Beer" was not highly esteemed.
But in the happier times that are our current Better Beer Renaissance Schells has done well. It is a respected local business that turns out good product. And they have been innovative in recent times.
One of their experiments has been ageing beer in the original Civil War era caves.
It was a bit of an experiment and is not currently under production. So I can't give it my personal taste test but others have pronounced it delicious.
A few pictures of the caves.
An article that came out around the time of Cave Lager's introduction mentions that these are only remnant caves, two in number, each 8 feet tall and going 20 to 30 feet into the hill. There were more extensive caves but they were filled in so as to improve the structural stability of the brewery overhead.
This makes sense and was probably a fairly common practice. I wonder if that explains the little dead end cave at the Bloomer Brewery?