It’s All Hallow’s Eve and we anticipate that there will be a respectable number of beer lovers flocking to brewpubs and beer bars tonight with a witty costume and a plan to consume enough beer to make them wish for the sugar crashes of childhood. But outside of the inevitable killer hangover November 1st, where is the scare? Where can one find the pee-your-pants-terror that makes Halloween so fun? Check out these breweries with real-life (well, real-afterlife) ghosts and ghouls.
St. Arnold Brewery in Houston is many beer patrons favorite haunt, but there may be a little more truth to that phrase than initially meets the eye. The neighborhood that once surrounded the area the brewery now occupies burned to the ground in a violent fire in 1912. Shortly thereafter, in 1914, a new building was constructed that served for many years as the Houston Independent School District’s frozen food operations plant. It was originally staffers at the plant that began reporting unexplained phenomena within the building, from spooky noises to sightings.
Saint Arnold moved into the space in 2009, and it wasn’t long before brewers and their families were also experiencing the paranormal. On two different occasions, a brewer’s young daughter claimed to see “kids” running around the brewery when there weren’t any others there. As described by Brewer Dennis Rhee to CultureMap Houston in the story, “A Ghost Story Brews at Saint Arnold’s”:
Philip Dagger, our packaging manager, and his 2- or 3-year-old daughter Sydney were in the brewery’s beer hall one night. Dagger was sitting at one of the tables while Sydney was playing near one of the corners of the hall. All of a sudden she points to an area near the windows that separates the beer hall from the brewhouse and shouts, “Hey Daddy! Kids!” Dagger looks over to where she is pointing but sees no one. Still, Sydney is insistent that there are children in that corner and continues to say, “Kids!”
I was cleaning out the lauter tun (one of the brewing vessels) late one night (probably around 2 or 3 a.m.) towards the end of a 12-plus hour shift. While squeegeeing and hosing out the spent grain, I started hearing some noises that sounded a lot like children’s laughter. I paused for a moment, thinking that the noises might have been caused by the echoing of my movement in the lauter tun. The laughter was still there. Since I was the only person in the brewery at the time, I poked my head out of the manway to see who was out there. No one. I was a little spooked, so I quickly finished my tasks, locked up, and got the hell out of the brewery.
Saint Arnold’s isn’t the only brewery allegedly haunted by more than great beer. Moon River Brewing Company in Savannah, GA has been featured on Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures because of the number and violent nature of the lingering spirits.
The building that houses Moon River Brewing now was built in 1821 and spent over 40 years serving as the affluent City Hotel until increased waves of violence and General Sherman’s army forced it to close its doors in 1864. The history of the hotel is riddled with tales of brutality, scandal, and death. It is apparent today that the dead haven’t left quietly. There are multiple accounts of bottles being thrown, and people being touched, pushed, and slapped by the spirits. And you thought the most dangerous part of drinking good craft beer is the occasionally allusive high ABV.
Other debunked breweries, like Lemp Brewing, which was sold nearly 100 years ago, now hold so much lore and intrigue, the St Louis community is capitalizing on it this time of year. The brewery owners, however, are the ghosts this time, rather than bearing witness to the paranormal activity afoot. Scary tours of the caves under the brewery and family mansion that describe the history of the Lemps and what turned out to be a pretty lethal lagering operation are available for all brave brew lovers to get a glimpse into the pre-prohibition past of St. Louis.
Go out and enjoy your beer with a scare this year. Ghouls and grain are a great combination, and the paranormal is only a pint glass away in many breweries and brewpubs around the country. Be safe, and have a happy Halloween.