The time is near, beer enthusiasts!
After years of planning, the former Carver County Public Works building will be used once again — this time as a place to enjoy Chaska’s finest beers. The new business, Schram Haus Brewery, will open to the public Friday, May 3 and will be the city’s first in nearly 65 years.
On tap are a variety of drinks; some are German-inspired beers, others are IPAs, and there’s also alcohol-free root beer for both children and adults.
Many of the drinks pay homage to Chaska history.
The Bernard, for example, is a “pre-prohibition” lager and uses a recipe that harkens back to the late 1800s, said owner Aaron Schram. It’s also an ode to Bernard Leivermann, who brewed beer for thirsty Chaskans from 1875 to 1904.
The Cane Fighter IPA refers back to an event in Chaska history when several men tried to attack a man in a bar. The man had a cane and beat all of them.
“We want to have a tie-in. The German brewing history has really come through,” he said. “It’s a tip of the hat to Chaska’s old brewers.”
Inside the newly renovated building at 3700 Chaska Boulevard, historical photos of residents enjoying a beer hang in the “brewseum” and Chaska bricks line the walls.
Bricks with the words “Chaska” are arranged in the order of a German drinking song, according to Aaron.
The brewery, which overlooks Athletic Park, will also benefit all downtown businesses, Schram said.
“We will drive more traffic,” he said, adding the brewery will be a destination people from other cities will be willing to drive to. That will increase interest in downtown stores.
For the Schram family, the brewery was years in the making.
Aaron Schram and his wife, Ashley, also own Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery in Laketown Township. However, at that location the beers were second to its better-known wines.
“I felt it was hard for people to take our brews seriously because they had already heard so much about our wine,” said Aaron.
So the Schrams set out to find the perfect place for their award-winning brews for 2.5 years. They found the former Carver County Public Works building, but were told by city officials they were second in line for the venue.
When the proposed development hit some snags, last year, the Schrams were able to obtain the vacant building and land.
“It was the right time and the right place,” Ashley said.
Just about everything had to be renovated, from the plumbing to the flooring and the walls.
The bar, tables and the chairs were all made by the Schrams.
“That’s who we are, it’s a unique look,” Aaron said.
Nine months later (which included a month-long setback from the government shutdown), the brewery is now up and running.
Renovations aren’t finished just yet, according to Ashley. They are planning to create a beer garden and a small kitchen.
“My goal is to build a German-style garden,” Aaron said, describing a trip to Germany for Oktoberfest.
“I went on a Tuesday, there were 7,000 people and no cops,” he said. “It was a social event and I felt like I was part of a community.”
The event spurred storytelling and friendship among participants in a calm and fun environment.
The brewery, he hopes will encourage those activities among patrons.
Chaska had a brewery as early as 1862, and was home to a number of breweries over the next century, according to Herald files.
Chaska’s Union Brewery had an annual production of 800 barrels by 1878. Fred Beyrer was the last brewer standing in Chaska, operating the Beyrer Brewery until 1955.
In recent history, a number of breweries have sprung up, including Victoria’s Enki Brewing Company in 2013, Waconia Brewing Company in 2014 and Shakopee’s Badger Hill Brewery in 2014.
At least one Chaskan is connected with a brewery. Tim Roets launched Roets Jordan Brewery in Jordan in 2017.
One of the badges on Olivia Busch’s Scouts BSA uniform is a red Founder’s Bar patch, signifying she is an original member of a new troop.
Each of the 15,000 girls who have joined Scouts BSA since it opened to girls this February is privy to the patch, including the five members of Troop 5174, a Scouts BSA Troop for Girls, based out of Chaska.
Busch, 14, said her interest in the group stemmed from watching her brothers’ scouting events. She attended an Eagle Court of Honor ceremony a few weeks after Scouts BSA made the historic announcement that girls could become scouts.
“I was sitting with all the other scouts,” she said. “And I looked up and realized I’m going to be able to do that when I’m 18. I’m going to be able to stand up there and get an Eagle award, which I never thought I’d be able to do before.”
Busch’s mother Heidi is committee chair and worked with Scoutmaster Neil Kennedy to form the new troop for girls. The troop is linked to boy Troop 3174 (commonly known as Troop 174), and both are sponsored by Crown of Glory Lutheran Church.
The new scouts are pioneers, Kennedy said. While “Venturing,” a co-ed program through Scouts BSA has been around for more than a decade, he said he’s seen girls in the past who would have enjoyed taking part in the full scouting experience.
“Not every girl wants to hike, and neither does every boy,” he said. “But if they do, then that opportunity should be open to them.”
In Chanhassen, Jim Walker, a chemistry teacher at Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria, is scoutmaster of the new girl Troop 5330.
Walker, himself an Eagle scout, recalls the influence of his mother. “My mom did all the outdoor stuff with us — taught us how to camp. It was my mom’s thing,” he recalled. “It was really a question on my brain, ‘Why can’t my sister be an Eagle Scout?’ So when this opportunity finally came along, I wanted to be part of starting it,” he said.
The troop is chartered by Chanhassen American Legion Post 580 and meets at Chanhassen Elementary School. So far the troop, operated with boy Troop 3330, has nine girls involved. They recently camped at Rum River. Next up is an outing at Camp Ripley, followed by whitewater rafting.
One of the scouts is Sophia Jesse, a 12-year-old sixth-grader, and daughter of Scott Jesse, scoutmaster of Troop 3330. Scott Jesse notes that Sophia has two older brothers — one an Eagle scout and one working toward an Eagle scout rank. “She loves the thought of being able to camp and do the activities the boys do,” Jesse said.
Sophia is already a Girl Scout, her father said, but wanted to participate in more outdoor events.
“I think it’s building,” he said, of excitement for the program. “There’s absolute excitement about this and girls are asking my daughter and others about this.”
Scouts BSA opened to girls ages 11 through 18 just this year. The program was known for more than 100 years as “Boy Scouts of America,” and the decision to open their doors to all youth was closely watched.
Girl Scouts promptly rebuked the decision to allow girls troops, saying Scouts BSA opened to girls to solve financial mismanagement and other woes. Later in November, Girl Scouts sued Scouts BSA for the name change, which the organization said insinuates a merger between the two scouting groups.
Scouts BSA moved to add girls incrementally: In 2018, Cub Scouts dens were able to decide individually whether girls would be allowed in; approximately 77,000 girls between the ages of 5 and 10 joined dens across the United States that year. Since Scouts BSA officially opened in February, some 2,000 new Scouts BSA troops have been formed.
Troops remain single-gender. Each chartered organization can make the choice among themselves whether to “link” the girl troop, which allows common resources, opening and closing ceremonies, and a shared committee of adult volunteers.
A linked girl troop may meet in the same building on the same night as their boy troop counterpart, however Scouts BSA says they must meet in separate rooms with different scoutmasters.
Parents conferred through long conversations, Heidi said, about how to best shape the girls troop.
“We had a lot of really great, open conversations, where people asked the questions they wanted to and talked it through,” she said. “The main solving aspect that makes it really work is that we didn’t get strict rules from Boy Scouts of America. It’s the parents that get to decide how they want this program to look for their kids.”
As a senior patrol leader, Olivia calls up the four members of the girls troop every Sunday before their Monday meetings. She said the girls in the troop have a unique perspective and are eager to put their camping and leadership ideas into action. They recently attended a STEM-based event together, and held a recruiting event not long after.
The troop’s name of “Phoenix Patrol” alludes to new beginnings.
Scouts BSA created an Eagle Scout Extension permitting scouts to work toward the rank of Eagle Scout for up to 2 years past their 18th birthday. Scouts can apply for the extension through the end of 2019.
Along with camping opportunities, Olivia said achieving the rank of Eagle scout is her top goal.
“What has it meant to you, Livvy, to be able to participate with the family and not, you know, be the one person that wasn’t a member of Troop 174?” Heidi asked her daughter. “What is that, because it means a lot.”
Olivia smiles before she answers.
“My entire family comes to meetings in uniform now, and that’s exciting for me, because I used to be the one girl who was sitting there in her T-shirt and hanging out,” Olivia said. “But now we can really participate in this together as a family, and all be in uniform together. And that’s exciting.”
Regional Editor Mark W. Olson contributed to this article.