NEBRASKAland

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NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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mall, local breweries have become increasingly popular in recent years, although a look into Nebraska's past reveals that the idea is not new. Many towns, including Grand Island, had them in the 19th century. One reason was that the lack of refrigerated transport systems precluded shipping unpasteurized beer long distances from large, distant breweries. In Grand Island's case, the community's strong German heritage was another reason that a brewery would be well-supported. The editor of the Grand Island Times on April 12, 1877, reported on his tour of the city's State Central Brewery, "through the kindness of its proprietor George Boehm." "We first went into the cellar, which is 22 x 56 feet, where we found 35 hogsheads with a capacity of 250 barrels, nearly all full of the creamy liquid undergoing the different stages of fermentation. Everything was arranged systematically, and kept scrupulously neat and clean. In order to keep the temperature of the cellar up to the desired point during the summer months, a rack has been built in the center calculated to hold twenty tons of ice. A glance at the thermometer, which Mr. Boehm watches carefully, showed the mercury to be down [to] almost freezing, in which temperature it is expected to keep it, if 850 tons of ice he has on hand will do it. The last hogshead that we inspected, and which was almost large enough for a dwelling house, contained Bock Beer, which is about twice as strong as the ordinary article, and much older, the quality of which the boys will have an opportunity of tasting on Bock Beer day, May 1. Near the ice rack were piles of kegs of beer that had 'gone through the mill' and were ready for market. Thinking that it might be interesting to the many who drink this healthful beverage, we asked Mr. Boehm to tell us the modus operandi." Boehm proceeded to describe the beer-making process, pretty much the same as today except for the convenience afforded by modern equipment. Barley was mixed with water and left to sprout, then dried, roasted, and ground, producing malt. The malt was boiled and the resulting liquid drawn off, strained, boiled again with hops, cooled, and then fermented. "Once into the fermenting tubs, it stands from 17 to 20 days, after which it is again racked off into hogsheads, where it stands 3 or 4 weeks or longer, when it is again racked off into kegs and is ready for use." The article more fully described the State Central Brewery's plant: "The main building is about 30 x 60 feet, two stories high, with a large addition on the west side devoted to horse power used in grinding malt and running large force pumps. In the main part is the furnace and kettle, mash tubs and cooler, and the hoisting apparatus for raising kegs from the cellar. Mr. Boehm informed us that he used 350 kegs, and his business was increasing to such an extent that he would be compelled to order more shortly. At present he has at least 10,000 gallons of beer on hand ... In bringing the establishment to its present state of perfection, he has expended about $12,000, and will continue to improve as time progresses. He superintends every department himself and his reputation is that of one of the best brewers in the state. It will repay anyone to visit the brewery and 'take it in,' as we did, and we guarantee them a pleasant time and courteous treatment." ■ Visit the Nebraska State Historical Society's website at Nebraskahistory.org. A Brief History Touring a Nebraska Brewery in 1877 By the Nebraska State Historical Society S Fremont Brewing Company Lithograph, undated. NSHS RG2294-48 12 NEBRASKAland • JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

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