The 150-Year-Old Beer Cave That Was Just Discovered In Iowa

Serious beer drinkers tend to love rare and unique beverage gems. Some, for example, might carve out a special place in the cabinet for their collection of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Others might need a lot more room for their stash. In one Iowa town, an unlikely discovery has revealed an 1800s beer storage area that could have held more than a few cases of Stella.

According to KCCI, a group of Iowa maintenance workers recently came across an unforgettable find during a routine excavation in Madison County. They found a "beer cave" believed to be from the area's first brewery, dating back to the 19th century. During that time period, breweries used underground storage to keep their beverages cool.  Currently, the cellar has too much water inside to be properly explored, but it appears that local history organizations will be traveling below to get a closer look once the water recedes. Although no exact plans for what to do with space are in the works, Jared McDonald from the Madison County Historical Complex told KCCI, "I don't if we'll exhume it and have tours of it, but we'll definitely have a mark and a plaque for it." For now, local beer drinkers will just have to pop open a bottle above ground. 

Beer caves are more common than you might think

While the term "beer cave" might have some people conjuring up mental images of old-school basement parties, the reality is that these underground locales were built out of necessity before times of refrigeration. As International Business Times reports, the Bavarians of the 1400s used to brew and store their beers in caves for their constant, cool temperatures. That practice has been used and adapted over time. From England to the U.S., many historic beer caves have been uncovered.

For just a few examples, Terrain explores how beer caves shaped St. Louis' beverage culture. In Milwaukee, Only In Your State shares how Wisconsin beer drinkers can enjoy the Miller Brewery Tour and its 170-year-old caves. In the same city, Milwaukee Independent travels through Dodge County beer caves. Even though many people might just want a pint, a barstool, and some witty banter while enjoying their beer, taking a step back into potable history could just bring a better appreciation for those sensational suds. While Paracelsus might have touted beer as divine medicine, pouring a glass of beer history might be the sip that satisfies.