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The ice tower “Eisen”

At the western end of the brewery rises a building built of brick with gothic features: the ice tower of the Drei Kronen.

Before the invention of the first refrigerator by the Franconian Carl von Linde, it was not possible to use a machine to produce ice (Carl von Linde erected the first cold storage facility in the world around 1880 in a brewery). Therefore the brewers would brew their malt spices in the village, and in the evenings would pump them to “Kühlschiff” (“Cool Ships”: low copper containers without a roof where the wort is allowed to cool down), under shelter but exposed to the open air. The night air would provide sufficient cooling. The next morning, the cooled wort could be transferred to large wooden fermenting and lagering casks, and kept in the beer cellar for storing just until needed in the inn.  So that the cellar didn’t heat up in the summer, bright gravel that reflected the sun was scattered on the ground. Shade contributed by trees maintained a cool temperature. The guests noticed quickly that the beer tasted freshest where it was stored. The brewers set up tables and benches in the cellar, and the guests brought their own “Brotzeit” (a meal or snack consisting of bread, cold cuts, cheese, etc.). Thus, the Franconian “Kellerkultur” (cellar culture) emerged. Whenever the weather is over 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) and dry, it is termed “Kellerwetter” (cellar weather), and Bambergers go “off to the cellar”. The Drei Kronen had a cellar that faced north, towards Drosendorf. The cellar was good for the beer, because it was the coldest storage available. For the business, however, it was rather bad, because it was really the coldest cellar …   To the chagrin of the barrel transport service, in 1880 the ice tower (“Eisen”) was constructed: 20 meters high with an incredible storage capacity of 1100 ms³ ice. There was once an ice pond behind the present gas station in Memmelsdorf. In the winter, if the pond had frozen, ice was collected for the “Eisen”. Seasonal hires cut ice into chunks with gigantic tree saws, pulled them loose and loaded them. Via an assembly line, the precious resource was transported to the top of the ice tower and thrown down. Thus, the beer was able to stay cold. The “Eisen”, was welcome extra income: strenuous, but it also provided a very festive, sociable gathering. And those who did not pay attention and slipped on the slippery ice clods, had to provide beer at closing time in exchange for friendly mockery.

Because also earlier there were already mild winters when nature failed to provide ice, our ice tower was designed to sustain a two-year utilization period. Ice was a precious commodity: if the ice ran out, the brewery would be finished. Therefore, a sign was mounted at the cellar door stating: “leaving the door open = suicide”. The ice tower was in operation until 1963, and is today an industry monument.

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