Gerke Lagering Tunnels #1
Gerke Lagering Tunnels
Prohibition Resistance Tour
Downtown, Cincinnati, Ohio
This past Sunday I got the pleasure of getting to go on what I consider the coolest thing you can do in Cincinnati, the Bockfest Brewery Tour aka Prohibition Resistance Tour. The tour takes you deep into Cincinnati’s rich brewing history both verbally and physically as you hear of how the city at one time was the country’s leading producer of beer and you walk though lagering tunnels that had been long forgotten for a century. What are lagering tunnels? They are tunnels constructed deep under ground or into hillsides that were used refrigerate and store beer after it was manufactured. The arched tunnels were constructed of fieldstone during the mid to late 1800’s and hanging from the ceiling were pipes that cold water flowed through to keep the beer cold. When artificial refrigeration was introduced near the turn of the century it made the tunnels obsolete. Over the years many of the tunnels were sealed off or used as a dump and then forgotten. It is unknown how many of these still exist in Cincinnati, but at one time there were nearly 100 breweries.
We toured 3 breweries this being the last. I had been in our first two before but I had never been in this one, and little did I expect what we were in store for. When we entered the building through the alley we went into a room that had an 8 foot by 8 foot opening in the floor that used to be and elevator shaft and in that opening was a scaffolding staircase that was two stories in height. Behind the opening sat a 1 ton generator that was removed from the shaft, at the time the area had been first scouted out, it was hanging by a wire. So below we went, into the depths, it was one shaky ride. This tunnel was the largest we visited. There were debris littering the bottom of the shaft, what made this tunnel so cool was that the opening into the main chamber also had some floor height windows. The ladder to the right of the image leads to a tunnel that is one story above. In the next couple days I’m going to post some images from this labyrinth that will show the size of the scaffolding, some of the debris and the tunnel itself.