Beer history underneath Penn Brewery


The beer caves underneath Penn Brewery may need some spring cleaning. (Photo courtesy Penn Brewery).

Penn Brewery owners knew there was more to their building that meets the eye, but they didn’t know that some lost beer history was hidden in underground “beer caves” underneath the Northside brewery.

“We had known all along that there were a series of tunnels and caves underneath the building,” said Lynda Nyman, co-owner of the Brewery. “What was surprising was the beer barrels.” 

While stonemasons repaired a stone wall in Penn Brewery’s beer garden, the owners asked if they could remove a few sections of the opening to the tunnel. 

Flashlights in tow, the owners crawled through the opening to see just what the tunnels were all about. Fairly deep into the caves, they stumbled upon something that they weren’t expecting.

The caves, connected directly to the beer house, served as the original method of refrigeration when the building was the E &O Brewery, which was was established in 1848 in the Northside.

 An outdated method since modern day refrigeration, the giant barrels and their caves were once a functional part of the brewery.

“We aren’t sure how old they are, but one thing we are confident of is that they were built inside the caves. They’re too large to fit through the opening.”

The tunnels, Nyman said, extend far beneath the brewery, underneath the parking garage of the building. 

Originally sealed off due to trespassers, the caves have once again been temporarily sealed off. The owners hope to reopen the area, however this time not for storage.

“We want to open them up as useable space, as a dining or bar area,” said Nyman. 

The challenge, however, is removing years of debris and making the area functional. The damp and dark area would need to be dried and lit, and then there are the giant barrels.

“We’re going to be historically conscious while cleaning up.”

Another option for the caves could be putting them back to their original use. However don’t be surprised if one of your seating options at Penn Brewery becomes cave in a few years.

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