a visit to schell’s brewing company
On Sunday some friends and I took a trip to Schell’s Brewing Company in New Ulm, MN. None of us had visited before and we were all looking forward to seeing the historic brewery and surrounding town.
The drive from my house in Minneapolis was over a hour and a half, but it was well worth it. The moment we arrived we were all shocked to see the place tucked into a valley with its historic buildings and beautiful landscape.
I wrote a bit about the distinct German history of Schell’s brewing while outlining my picks for the Six Pack Project, so I won’t repeat all of it here. I will say, however, that seeing the place in person and hearing the stories again really made the history come alive for me. Most of this post will be photos as the beauty of the place speaks loudest.
We arrived and grabbed some Oktoberfests in the Bier Garten and bought our tour tickets.
We walked the grounds for a while, beers in hand, and tried to imagine what the place would have been like in the late 1800’s.
Much of the lush greenery, we later learned, is located where the Schells and the Martis once grew grapes. In addition to brewing, they loved to make wine.
We headed back towards the museum and gift shop where the tour would begin shortly.
I was very surprised to hear that despite many expansions, parts of the old brewhaus are still used today. The old copper brew kettle is used as a hot liquor tank, feeding hot water into the new equipment. All of the parts are original.
It was a treat to see the ancient equipment, but at the same time I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to peek in at the fermenters or bottling line next door.
We moved on to tasting which took place in the basement of the museum in a sizeable tap room that felt a bit like a historic dining hall with better lighting.
I enjoyed the dark and the Firebrick the most.
Schell’s also owns Grain Belt, so one of our samples was the hipster favorite, Grain Belt Nordeast.
I highly recommend a visit to Schell’s Brewing. There is immense history that is not just significant to beer and brewing but to Minnesota, too. A part of Minnesota history really comes alive with a visit to the brewery.
The grounds are a delightful mix of wild-looking plants and groomed landscape with species I have never seen anywhere else.
August Schell supposedly picked this place in the mid-1800’s while he was on a walk home. Having just come through the valley where the brewery now stands, he was reminded of the Black Forest near his German childhood home. The water of the cottonwood river and steep, rolling landscape offered water for beer, plus ice and cold cellars for lagering.
The peacocks were not original to the area, however. They were transplanted from a nearby farm and still chicks are raised annually as they freely roam the grounds. I’d say they seem right at home.