Last Friday I had the chance to do a behind the scenes walk through of everyone's relatively new favorite brewery, Rhinegeist, located toward the northern tip of Elm street. Housed within the remains of the old Moerlein bottling plant, a 120 year old building built in 1895, the brewery is a tantalizing figure poised and ready to be photographed. My friend Nathan, whom I met through my friend/his girlfriend Courtney, works for Rhinegeist and offered to take me around to see the areas which are off limits to the general public. While the owners of Rhinegeist have done much to refurbish the old building, bringing it up to date while providing a modern space for business and brewing, it still retains a lot of it's original 19th century character. This is exactly what I was looking for on this private tour.
He took me through the entire place, but I wanted to highlight the areas which were still relatively untouched because I found those to be the most interesting. He lead me to the upper floors where work was being done on a large room with low ceilings and walls spotted with old arched windows that looked out onto Elm street and Eton Place. It was dimly lit by one pair of fluorescent lights hanging near the south wall next to a blood red pillar, making for a decent photo opportunity. Did I mention the scent of this room? Old and dusty and brimming with that electric smell of atmosphere. It was perfect.
After I was finished salivating and touching every wall in that room (I wanted the tactile sensation as well because just look at it), he took us to part of the roof where he and his comrades take breaks during their shifts. Several factory windows bent outward from old brick, newly-installed lights lit up the corners and arches of the building around them, and steam rose from stainless steel pipes, making little ghostly shadows appear on the illuminated surfaces behind it. Obviously work had been done to modernize it, but it still retained much of its original charm.
After we left the roof, we ventured the opposite way we had been going up to that point: deeper into the bowels of the building to see the lower levels. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. When we got down there, I was in 7th heaven. Not only were the walls unfinished and grungy, they were covered in curling flakes of (what I assume to be) lead paint highlighted by fluorescent lights with the noticeable smell of damp in the air. This was a proper basement.
Below is a gallery of what I saw. From what looked like iron rails leading through a (newer) wall to rusty furnaces to eerie crawl spaces to bricked up passages, this basement had a plethora of wonderful stuff to take in. Also of note: the last picture is of what looked to be a shower at one point. It gave me chills for reasons I cannot explain. Enjoy the crusty goodness!