The following story and pictures are reprinted from the January 1959 issue of Brewers Digest.
Texas' First Brewery
by C.E. Lieberman,
Vice President & Master Brewer,
Gulf Brewing Co., Houston, Texas.
The Kreische Brewery of La Grange, Texas, passed its 100th anniversary in 1955 under a pall of erie unruffled silence. Now stark and lonely ruins, this old beer factory -- founded by Henry Ludwig Kreische -- is reputed to be the first commercial brewery of the vast sun-drenched State of Texas.
The Kreische home still retains the old-world trappings and dignity. The view of the fuming brewery it once commanded is now completely obliterated with dense, unkempt foliage. This baronial estate has not been vacant many years, as the last maiden daughter clung to the traditional life until finally passing away. She was the last of the strain.
I had the privilege of being escorted through the fascinating brewery ruin by George Adamcik, who knew the Kreische family and who persuaded the last heir to deed the land to the Hostyn Catholic Church. The property is not only closed to the public, but the ruins of the plant are almost inaccessible because of the overgrowth of jungle. The crumbled stone structures of the brewhouse, cellars and lime kiln are in a deep ravine below the sturdy old Kreische homestead.
From the size of the tree trunks, vines and roots that have overwhelmed what used to be a busy industry, this brewery has been idly abiding its time for quite awhile. Still intact are some of the well-laid stone walls.
Stepping into the 40-foot deep vault was a thrill that non-brewers would also experience. At the end of this arched-ceiling cave, the stone fixtures of what used to be the means of receiving the cool spring water are discernable enough to whet the imagination with the difficulties encountered in this type of cellar operation. This unromantic thought would only occur to a brewer, of course.
The roof of the main building above the cellar had collapsed decades ago. Only a few pieces of metal fragments were to be found in the rubble. Where the masonry had escaped the irresistible strength of jungle-growth and pressures from moving earth, it manifests the great pains and skill exercised by the artisans who pioneered this business. Though the vegetation had proved its might, and the twisted trees seem to scoff at mere man through their beards of Spanish moss, it wasn't difficult to picture in ones mind's eye the hustle
and bustle that took place around the clearing back in those rustic days.
Strangely, the sight of this old derelict and the stately Kreische home is but a short distance from an imposing monument on top of the hill. In fact, the general location is called "Monument Hill," and over-looks the Colorado River of Texas, and the town of La Grange on the opposite bank. The geographical location might best be described as being between Houston and Austin.
Monument Hill has been designated by the State as a memorial to the 58 Texans whose remains are buried there. During the War with Mexico in the 1830s, these soldiers were captured in the ill-fated Mier raid, led by strong-willed Captain Dawson. The party was captured and taken to Mexico where some were cruelly shot. By wooden wagons their remains were brought to this knoll which is now a state park and commands a picturesque view of the countryside.
Few of the many visitors know that beneath the rambling foliage in the ravine below, a possibly more interesting -- though less macabre --relic of these formative days of Texas history lies serenely dormant.
We at BeerHistory.com were happy to receive the following email concerning the Kreische Brewery:
I am the Assistant Manager at Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery State Historical Sites. I have been reading on your website about Texas' First Brewery written by C.E. Lieberman. We were e-mailed your webpage by Mr. Lieberman's daughter. It was great to read about Mr. Kreische's brewery from the perspective of such a distinguished brewmaster in the 1950's.
I just wanted you to know that the Kreische Brewery is now a historical site and part of the Texas Parks & Wildlife system. It is open for tours regularly on Saturdays & Sundays and available at other times for tour groups of 10 or more. In addition, Mr. Kreische's home is also available for tours.
We have a website and I was wondering if you could put a link to it on your page with Mr. Lieberman's article. Our website address is http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/monument/monument.htm
There is more information about Mr. Kreische and a few panoramic views of the brewery as well as other information about our park.
Thanks for the interesting reading on your website.
Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery State Historical Parks