Friday, July 11, 2014

Brewing Beer in Frankenmuth

Today we spent most of our time in two Frankenmuth museums.  Both of them are operated by the Frankenmuth Historical Society.  The first one we visited is the Frankenmuth Lager Mill Beer Store and Brewing Museum.  I am not sure, but I do not believe we have ever run across any historical society which profits from the sale of beer, but that is the case in this town.  The beer museum was placed in an old antique flour mill so the history of brewing in Frankenmuth, shown through photos, artifacts and text, is set amid flour milling equipment.  Pictured below is a flour filter, next to it are shelves of beer glasses.
 The clerk in the beer store was kind enough to tell me how over 2,500 pieces of authentic German glassware found a home in the Lager Museum.  A man from New York had collected them on his trips to German over his lifetime.  Because of health issues he needed to find a museum for them so he began investigating American towns with German names, which was how he found Frankenmuth.  At the time the town was just organizing its' brewery museum and willingly accepted the collection.  The donor of the glasses died the same day he received a picture of his glasses safely esconced in locked cupboards of the museum.
The first brewing company in Frankenmuth was Geyers Brewery founded in 1862.  Another brewer, Frankenmuth Brewing Company, was organized in 1899.  With the Prohibition Enactment of 1930 the town was quite unhappy.  The Frankenmuth Brewing Company changed its' name to the Frankenmuth Products Company and started making malt extract.  Supposedly that substance was made for women to use in their baking.  It came in five gallon containers (pictured above) and more than likely was used in homes for brewing beer.  Frankenmuth Brewery was bought out by Carling Brewery in 1956- it was bought out by G.Heileman who went bankrupt and the large Frankenmuth plant was demolished in 2000. The site of that brewery now hosts a Bavarian-themed shopping plaza. One microbrewery now resides in Frankenmuth, - the Frankenmuth Brewery (a new company took the old name).  That brewery sits on the site of the Geyers Brewery and uses its' old 19th century cellars.  The history of beer brewing in Frankenmuth does have a rather convoluted history!  The microbrewery and restaurant is pictured below.

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