Sponsored by: Archaeology Society of Staten Island
The Lynda Nilsen Memorial Lecture, given by Dr. Celia J. Bergoffen
Four adjoining, massive stone and brick lager vaults were discovered fourteen feet below grade in the heart of Williamsburg’s former lager brewing district. Unlike other beers, lager yeast ferments at the bottom of the vat and the brew must age at low temperatures. Before refrigeration, this was accomplished in subterranean vaults. Introduced in the U.S. ca. 1840, lager took off in the 1850s when a major influx of thirsty German immigrants arrived in Williamsburg where the water was good and housing plentiful. Schnaderbeck was among the first to produce lager here and his cellars, built before 1860, are the oldest found. Though dozens must have existed the 1860s-1870s, only one or two other vaults survive in the heart of America’s earliest lager brewing district.