In the late 1800s, many German immigrants gravitated to east-central Texas, where they continued the customs of their homeland. The region’s fertile prairies and natural springs were reminiscent of the German countryside, where families had spent centuries perfecting the craft of brewing lagers, often with water from limestone-based artesian springs.
Although dozens of regional breweries were officially documented, only a few survived to become significant businesses retaining historic legacies to this day. “The little brewery in Shiner,” the 113-year-old Spoetzl Brewery, is known for its venerable beer, traced to founder Kosmos Spoetzl’s centuries-old family recipes. To the west, the Lone Star Brewery complex—now housing the San Antonio Museum of Art—was constructed in 1895 and eventually earned San Antonio the title “the Milwaukee of Texas.”
About 100 miles northeast of San Antonio lay the ruins of the once-prosperous Kreische Brewery, just outside of La Grange. Now part of the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Kreische Brewery State Historic Site, the ruins tell the story of German stonemason and brew master Heinrich Kreische, who purchased 172 acres on a scenic bluff overlooking the Colorado River in 1849.
Kreische’s gravity-based water filtration system started with a natural spring source and moved downhill through a series of specially engineered stone-based filtration systems toward the brewhouse. There, Kreische oversaw the brewing process via German rules—the only permissible ingredients were water, barley, and hops—for the lager known as Kreische’s Bluff Beer.
When a new batch was ready, it is said Kreische would raise a flag high on the bluff with the German phrase Frisch Auf! (meaning Freshen Up!) to proudly advertise its availability. The THC’s historic site remains a testament to his craftsmanship.
In 2020, Kreische’s craft was resurrected—in a sense. Twisted X Brewing Company released a bock beer called Kreische Bluff inspired by the historic site. For a couple of years, Central Texans have been able to “freshen up” and taste the Kreische legacy in this amber-colored beer that uses 100 percent German malt and hops. Heritage travelers and beer lovers alike can sample Kreische Bluff in Twisted X’s Dripping Springs taproom.
In summer 2021, the Kreische collaboration continued. Live Oak Brewing Company released an Old World/La Grange-inspired pilsner called Schuetzenverein Pils, co-branded with Kreische Brewery State Historic Site.
On May 14, beer will flow once again at Kreische Brewery! That evening, the site will host a celebration of German-Texan brewing heritage called Texas History on Tap as part of the daylong Bluff SchuetzenFest. Attendees can taste three-ounce samples from several breweries linked to the history of the site or German-Texan heritage.
The inaugural Bluff SchuetzenFest is a revival of a celebration once held on the grounds. From the 1870s to the 1920s, the Bluff Schuetzenverein (or shooting club) hosted a gathering on the bluff for German traditions such as marksmanship competitions, games, folk music, and dancing. The Bluff SchuetzenFest will recreate many of these traditions and more fun activities for families, with live music, food, games, guided tours, living history, and more. Admission is free from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. The Texas History on Tap portion is a ticketed event from 5–8 p.m. Learn more and purchase tickets at friendsofkreischebrewery.org
Kreische Brewery State Historic Site
414 State Loop 92
La Grange, TX 78945-5733
May 14, 2022
10:00am to 8:00pm
Texas History on Tap @ Bluff SchuetzenFest
Sample a variety of beers inspired by Texas history and meet the creative teams behind your favorite Texas breweries. Enjoy live music, German food, and a good old time on the Bluff.
Ticketed Event 5:00pm to 8:00pm
Tickets available at friendsofkreischebrewery.org