By Ashley Schram
I wish I could summarize in a quick catchy tagline what this brewery will be all about, but it’s far too complex to throw a catch phrase at it. Yes, we are about great beer, yes we are about community, but it goes so much deeper than that. We figured the best way to dig in and tell you all about it is to write our story. This is how Schram Haus Brewery came to be in Chaska and what we plan to be all about.
Many of you know us from Schram Vineyards in Waconia and have heard variations of this story. I’m going to re-tell some of it here with the beer focused angle, so grab a beverage and start reading. A lot have been asking, “Aren’t these the winery people who also have a brewery already?” Yep, it’s us. Hi!
While the idea of opening a new brewery has been in the works for nearly three years, the concept of what type of brewery we wanted to create was inspired, believe it or not, from the first day we met. In October 2006, I went to Gasthof’s Oktoberfest in Northeast Minneapolis with some friends. It was there I laid eyes on Aaron, donning authentic leather lederhosen (which I came to find out he had just purchased while in Munich for the actual Oktoberfest a few weeks prior). He was a sight to be seen and I knew from the moment I saw him he must have some character. Our eyes locked and our first clink of the stein together was a Hefeweizen. I’ll spare you the gushy details, but you can ask me more about our love story over a beer sometime. Several steins, a few beer boots, and a couple of polka dances later, this big and handsome German looking man in lederhosen named Aaron Schram and I found ourselves sitting at the bar at Nye’s Polonaise already making plans together. He told me that night of his dream to open a winery. Errrr…(record scratch)! Nope, not a brewery. A winery. The brewery dream came later! I thought, a beer-drinking man who loves (and makes) wine, wears lederhosen, and has a big dream? I’m in. I like all those things! I was also in my mid- 20s and fairly naive so I had no idea how much work was actually in store for me. It just sounded really romantic at the time. Sure! Let’s move to the country and start a vineyard. How hard can it be?
Little did we know at the time how influential that legendary meeting story would be on our future. Here we are today, ready to open a german inspired brewery. If you know us, you may know one thing the ties us together is we both are committed to a lifestyle of beer and wine and we make it our business.
Yadda, yadda, yadda…tens years, a few kids and businesses later, we were making good wine and beer at our winery and brewery in Waconia and doing it all in a relatively small space. Giving the attention and focus to both that they needed was going to be tough as we needed to expand production for both operations. But where would we put it all?
It seemed an opportunity to expand the brewery operations to a new location would make the most sense. Aaron dreamed of a German style experience, one where you might get the same feel he experienced in Munich – great beer in a community where everyone came together for merriment and good cheer. And I suggested building upon that concept with a modern play that would still appeal to today’s generations of craft beer drinkers in our culture. In researching potential areas for a brewery, Chaska came on our radar rather quickly. Only 10 miles from our current location and unbelievably, no current operating brewery in that city. What nonsense! As we would later find out, Chaska has one of the richest brewing histories in the area. We visited a number of spots during the summer of 2016 setting our sites on the old vacant Public Works building set up on the bluff overlooking the city. Only shortly after we learned that, for reasons unrelated to us, perhaps the timing and this location weren’t meant to be for us to pursue this vision. We backed away and the Chaska brewery vision took a backseat for a while.
In the spring of 2018, we still had the itch and an opportunity opened up in Chaska again. Now that German beer house idea was real. It may have been “our story”, but we weren’t sure if it would fit for Chaska and having a strong tie to the local community was important to us. It was time to research and pursue. We spent some time at the Chaska Historical Society scouring through their historical books, old photos and history, and we learned that Chaska was home to many breweries back in the day. This community has craft beer drinking in its blood! Did you know Chaska has been home to at least 9 breweries? Two of the most well know were also surnames, Leivermann’s Brewery and Beyrer’s Brewery, both German heritage last names. And Schram. Hello-oo? The name alone came naturally to fit. And by adding Haus (pronounced like “house”), it gives an element of community and coming together in a welcoming gathering spot.
Did you know that very near to where this brewery sits, there used to be a meeting spot circa 1915 for a club called the Schnitzelbank Club? I know what you are thinking. What the heck is a Schnitzelbank? More to come on that, but the “club” was a group of men who would meet for “music, fun and beer.” Whaaaaaat?! I mean… why wouldn’t we replicate a club like that? Except of course the obvious – where the ladies at? Women like music, fun and beer too. Duh. These history books were dripping with German influenced, brewing history and we knew we were dealt the right cards with Chaska. You guys, we are so excited to bring this all back in a way that fits with the today’s craft beer drinker. Stay tuned for Schnitzelbank Club 2000.
Bringing some of these concepts back with a modern play on old traditions was definitely achievable and realistic. We’ve already incorporated some of this historical influence in our design, glassware, and some subtle architectural details (ie. can you find the hidden message in our Chaska brick walls?). And dreams of an annual Oktoberfest each fall dance in our heads. Aaron’s leather lederhosen have been packed away for far too long afterall! But first things first. Let’s get this place open so we can start sharing local craft beer with you! While we think it is fate that brought us together initially, we believe it is also what brought us to opening this brewery in Chaska. We’re honored to be a part of a city rich with history, traditions….and most importantly, beer.
An official opening date has not yet been set, but know we are working diligently to secure all licensing and final details as quickly as possible. I know, we are anxious too! We are getting closer every day and we promise the wait will be worth it. It’s going to be amazing! In the meantime, close your eyes and imagine sitting out in the beer garden sipping a cold one and taking in the views this spring. It’ll be here before you know it. We are looking forward to meeting old friends and new at Schram Haus this spring. We hope you are too. That’s what it’s about. Prost!