‘Sinkhole’ leads to 150-year-old beer cave

An underground “sinkhole” discovered by a bridge inspector in the US is believed to in fact be the remnants of a former brewery’s 150-year old beer cave.

Credit: Department of Iowa Transportation

One of the beer caves uncovered by archaeologists. Credit: Iowa Department of Transportation

The Iowa Department of Transportation inspector believed he had found a hazardous sinkhole on discovering and 18-inch wide void near a busy interstate, as reported by The Gazette.

However officials have since offered a far more intriguing explanation, believing the hole to lead to a series of beer caves stretching some 30 feet below the ground.

Staff from the University of Iowa’s archeology department have so far identified three-to-four underground limestone caverns using ground penetrating radar at the site of the hole, with archaeologists suspecting the cavernous underground void to belong to the former Eagle Brewing Company/Magnus Brewing Company, built in 1859.

Subterranean caverns were common to breweries before the advent of refrigeration used to store beer and typically constructed out of limestone or brick, with some big enough to fit a truck through.

Carl Merry, the research director at the state archaeologist’s office, told the paper: “Everything is very preliminary at this point. Right now it’s a hypothesis. We are trying to identify as best we can what is down there. It could be more than one thing.”

According to the The Gazette, the Magnus Brewery was a five-story complex overlooking Cedar Lake, which ran into a hill where the caves were located.

The brewery had five cellars that could hold 2,000 barrels, two ice houses with the capacity to produce 60 barrels of beer in 12 hours.

It closed in 1915 because of prohibition and was demolished in 1937.

Later, residential housing was built on top of the beer caves, before it too was torn down to make way for the I-380 in the 1970s.

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