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Kreische Brewery State Historic Site

German immigrant helped early Texans fall in love with beer.

In early Texas, before the days of refrigeration, Heinrich Kreische came up with an ingenious way to funnel spring waters via cobblestone-lined channels leading to a labyrinth of naturally insulated and ventilated underground rooms to produce a German lager known as Kreische Bluff Beer. By the late 1870s, the clever German immigrant had become the third largest beer producer in Texas.

Monument Hill/Kreische Brewery State Historic Site preserves the stabilized sandstone ruins of the three-story hillside brewery and the homestead of the hyper-industrious stonemason who emigrated from Saxony, Germany, to Texas in 1846. The 40-acre historic site in LaGrange also pays homage to Texans killed in two separate conflicts in the early 1840s, when Texas continued to fight to secure its independence from Mexico.

In 1849, Kreische bought 172 acres on a wooded bluff near the El Camino de la Bahia, or the Bay Trail, long used by Native Americans, Spanish, Anglo-Americans, Czechs and Germans who settled in Fayette County. The land included the tomb containing the remains of Texans killed at the Battle of Salado Creek in 1842 and in the infamous “Black Bean Death Lottery” the following year.

In 1977, TPWD acquired the brewery and the Kreische homestead, which includes Kreische’s meticulously crafted three-story home, a smokehouse and barn. Every Christmas season, the home welcomes visitors attending the Trail of Lights.

Visitors can access the Kreische House and Kreische Brewery on hour-long guided tours along a 3/4-mile trail that winds through mature oaks and cedar elms dripping in Spanish moss, palm trees, mountain laurels and a diverse mix of plant life.

Atop the 200-foot-high bluff overlooking the Colorado River, the northernmost limit of the Oakville Escarpment’s upland post oak woodlands meet the rolling grasslands of the Fayette Prairie to the north. Here, too, are found pockets of plants common to the Texas Hill Country that have been carried down the Colorado and taken root.

One of the site’s information panels shows both how much things have changed and how much they’ve stayed the same. On the display, a 19th century photo depicts the multilevel brewery, which sports a massive cedar shake and tin roof, hosting a gaily dressed crowd assembled to celebrate the release of Kreische’s popular Bavarian lager. History records that when a new batch of brew was ready for consumption, the German brewmeister would hoist a flag atop the bluff emblazoned with the words “Frisch Auf!” This may well be the site of the first Texas happy hour.

— Rob McCorkle

The historic site is located atop a bluff one mile south of LaGrange and just across the Colorado River off U.S. Highway 77 on Loop 92. For information, call (979) 968-5658 or visit <www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/ parks/monument_hill_and_kreische_brewery>.

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