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7 Abandoned Breweries “Open” for Exploration
January 27, 2011 2:15 PM   Subscribe

7 Abandoned Breweries “Open” for Exploration

Does it get much better than beer-themed urban exploring? You probably won’t be able to find any of the good stuff still lying around in these defunct breweries, but there are still tons of abandoned items to discover. Massive round holes left over from industrial vats are a mainstay, as are interesting machinery and tons of old labels. Full of copper goodness.
posted by fixedgear (12 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Does it get much better than beer-themed urban exploring?

How about being able to look at pictures from someone else's beer-themed urban exploring, while sitting on a sofa drinking beer?
posted by Hoopo at 2:34 PM on January 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


The old Falstaff complex here in St. Louis is used by junk dealers and others in piecemeal fashion. I actually have PDFs of the architectural plans for most of the buildings. Those drawings...man. I'm in awe of what people did by *hand* back in the day.
posted by notsnot at 2:55 PM on January 27, 2011


Wow, I've actually done service work at the Dixie Brewery. Shame what it came to after the big K.
posted by localroger at 3:30 PM on January 27, 2011


We were dismayed when we asked for a Blackened Voodoo at the local Cajun joint a while ago (for the first time after our return to Texas in 2007) and found out what had happened to Dixie. It's also sad to hear that they won't be restoring the building the way they're doing the Pearl and Lone Star breweries in San Antonio.
posted by immlass at 3:58 PM on January 27, 2011


I can't really pretend to love Stella, but even now that's a pretty nice brewing floor. It looks like it really wouldn't take much, in terms of monetary investment, to get that in amazing shape.
posted by paisley henosis at 4:17 PM on January 27, 2011


I do hope that they manage to save the Iron City complex. The city got historical status declared on the property so the buildings are at least temporarily saved but the the longer that they sit there, the more it's going to cost to renovate them. There have been some cool re-uses of 19th century factories in Pittsburgh lately, there's a lot that could be done with this.
posted by octothorpe at 4:52 PM on January 27, 2011


I do hope that they manage to save the Iron City complex. The city got historical status declared on the property so the buildings are at least temporarily saved

Was that a local, state or federal designation? Because typically only local designation has any teeth to it when it comes to actually staving of destruction.
posted by IvoShandor at 7:58 PM on January 27, 2011


I'm interested to know if #4 (Barenquell - Berlin) is the same building that sits just outside of the park on the hill in West Kreuzberg. I used to live down the street and could see the brewery while walking in the park, but could never quite figure out if it was shut-down or still in use, as I'd seen the beers in the supermarket. Not to mention that it can be impossible to determine whether or not a Berlin building is really abandoned from the outside!
posted by mannequito at 8:45 PM on January 27, 2011


One of my favorite trespassing spots in Baltimore was always the abandoned American Brewery, up on North Gay Street. I first found it when I started driving, taking joyous, aimless runs around the city to see what was out there. You'd be noodling along, just taking in the everyday neighborhoods of Baltimore and watching the people out on the street, and it would just break the surface of rowhouses like a barnacle-encrusted whale getting ready for a tremendous leap.

I always tell people, by way of a meager description, that it's pretty much a dictionary of Victorian brick architecture, cramming a crazy variety of ornamental detail into one stunning building, and in the last millennium, it was a gargantuan, incomprehensible monument to ruination—burned-out, scavenged, rotting, and yet still possessed of a presence few buildings ever attain.

In the last millennium, it was threatened with demolition, off and on, for a decade, and my friends and I took that as our license to spend huge amounts of time there, well-equipped with safety gear, basic tools, and cameras, exploring every corner. Offices sat abandoned with their desks and adding machines intact, machinery squatted in mysterious tableaus under strangely articulate grafitti—RESHAPE YOUR FUTURE WITH BREAST AUGMENTATION—and the old brewing vats had been cut out, leaving circular holes through five floors.

You'd pull up and park, in one of the city's most neglected neighborhoods, crawl in where the plywood barriers had rotted, and head for the stairs with your heart in your throat, hoping everything would hold. There was a tangled route to the top, a series of increasingly disastrous stairwells that finally led you to a room where the floor had mostly gone, so you'd walk delicately on the joists, then get onto the wooden stairs into the central tower, an architectural feature disguising a grain elevator, and go up and up and up and up without guard rails or common sense, emerging in the witch's hat of a turret, surrounded by a wayward tree of heaven forest, and the whole city spread out around you like a map, with even more places to go.

I spent a night there once, sleeping on a well-worn wooden window seat in one of the hooded windows just under the main roofline, and watched the street below as people came and went and the endless traffic made its way elsewhere. I've been asked, easily a hundred times, if I was a cop, by curious kids who reasoned that a white guy would only be in that neighborhood for one of two purposes, and then, realizing I was more like them, like a big dumb kid with nothing better to do, would take me to show me even cooler things they'd found in the place.

The Brewery is closed to me now, restored from top to bottom by a social services organization that have fixed every failing aspect of the old gem, and I don't begrudge it any of its recent glory. The future needs places like this, and reuse is the way to do it.

Still, it seems smaller now, maybe because it's tamed, or because it's not the dark shadow on the skyline, full of grim wonders and the promise of one more adventure, but that's my loss, and the city's gain.

I hope it has a long, long life ahead.
posted by sonascope at 2:42 AM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wow sonascope, that's an amazing building.
posted by octothorpe at 4:23 AM on January 28, 2011


I worked four summers in the bottling floor of the Molson Brewery in Toronto. It looked worse than these abandoned places. You really don't get a great sense of the brutal ugliness of industrial machinery when looking at these images because they are showing the brewery portion of the operation, which is always showy and spic and span. Most breweries show this part off often with huge glass windows showing passers-by the lovely brass vats.

Where I worked there were endless brutal machines painted with flaking industrial green paint held together with elastic bands and conveyers of bottles (about 6000/minute) that generated enough noise that you couldn't hear the Molson Indy when it ran practically right outside the building. Fumes from bottle recycling caustic acid baths, broken glass everywhere, puddles of beer, firehoses for cleaning the floor. I'd go through two pairs of workboots each summer because the glass would cut them and then the beer would soak them and then they just rotted.

So when you visit as a decay tourist keep in mind that the industrial part of the brewery is actually nicer now that it is an abandoned ruin.
posted by srboisvert at 5:33 AM on January 28, 2011


IvoShandor: "I do hope that they manage to save the Iron City complex. The city got historical status declared on the property so the buildings are at least temporarily saved

Was that a local, state or federal designation? Because typically only local designation has any teeth to it when it comes to actually staving of destruction
"

Local. City council voted to save it.
posted by octothorpe at 6:40 AM on January 28, 2011


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