Tunnels of Neustadt

Neustadt, Ontario (birthplace of John Diefenbaker, Canada's 13th Prime Minister) was founded in 1856 by David Winkler who promptly dammed Meaux Creek in 1857 and erected a sawmill, gristmill and flour mill.

Two years later in 1859, German immigrant, Henry Huether constructed a brewery which burned down ten years latter in 1869. Huether, not to be deterred, then invited 40 stonemasons from Germany which began construction over a natural spring, which still flows through a network of caverns beneath the brewery today.

Back during the reconstruction, Heuther rebuilt using fieldstone brought in by local farmers in exchange for beer . . . this in my books is a decent deal ! Local villagers used yeast from the vats for baking and malt residue for cattle feed and so the great circle of beer continued.

Mr. Huether also kept carriages and six teams of horses in the stables on the lower floor and maintained a hotel on the north end of the long structure. There is also small stone building to the north of the brewery which was originally a customs and excise office where the officer would check the barrels of beer going out full and coming in empty to calculate taxes due.

The brewery was closed in 1916 due to prohibition but found a use as a creamery, egg grading station, town hall and a dance hall for several years. The structure eventually fell out of use in 1972 and remained empty until 1997, when the brewery was reopened as Neustadt Springs Brewery. The current owners Val and Andy from the UK purchased the building and within 10 months restored it to its former glory and revived the brewery operation. They currently brew 4 brands of beer and have an on-site retail store (website link HERE).

The owners provide a one-hour tour of the original caverns below the brewery on weekends only. These dark caverns, laying approximately 30 below street level are accessible by sloped ramps and are protected by an army of albino spiders. There is a tunnel which connects the brewery caverns to Heuther's house across the street as well as another one which runs under the old customs & excise office to the Co-Op feed mill which now houses a large antique store which is currently walled up. There are rumours that this tunnel may have seen clandestine use during the prohibition years.


Anonymous said...

Very Cool! Thanks for this article C6. Great coverage as always.

~ phrenzee

Anonymous said...

Wow! I always pass through Neustadt, admiring the german inspired architecture, never knew about the history/tunnels! Well written article!