My home city of Milwaukee has a rich history of beer production and ghost stories. I'm going to start this post by describing the Miller Brewery Tour, and get to the ghost part later on. Specifically, the ghost of Captain Frederick Pabst.
My Mom and I have a yearly Christmas tradition of taking the brewery tour and watching the light show Miller puts on. The lights are set to blink and move in sync with the music that's playing.
The Girl in the Moon wears sort of a witch-like hat and sits on the moon, while lifting her glass in a toast. The video offered a few possible explanations for the logo. In one story, a Miller employee wanders into the woods during a company party and looks up to see a girl in the moon. In another story, the girl was modeled after Frederick Miller's granddaughter.
After the film, we saw a very cool light show set to music.
I found the following video of this year's show on YouTube. The introduction is completely silly, so you might just want to skip to the 4:30 mark. That's where the hijinks end and the light show begins. If you skip to about the 6:30 mark, things start sounding pretty spooky. I was fine with that, but it still struck me as weird music for a Christmas show!
Then we went down to "the caves" where the beer was once stored and packed in ice from Lake Michigan. This kept it cool. (I just realized that I could probably give the tour by now.) Anyway, an image of Frederick Miller is projected onto the cave wall. He appears like a ghost and explains the caves in his perfect German accent. This is one of the highlights of the tour.
I found a video someone shot of the caves. This one is pretty brief, but you'll get the idea:
Then, it was beer tasting time! We got three different glasses of beer and tons of pretzels. We had Miller Light, which was of course great. Then something called Winter Abbey Ale, which was not so great. It was too sweet and heavy on the caramel flavor. Last was Leinenkugel's Fireside Nut Brown. That one was OK, but not really my style. It was still a little too caramelly for my taste.
That's evidently what I look like when I taste weird beer...
A funny part to the night came when an extremely drunk man approached my Mom, thinking she was his wife. I don't know how he was that drunk on three beer samples, but he was. Or maybe he had little to drink before the tour. I actually got the impression that some people came to the brewery tour drunk! Although, we figured that you could take the tour again and again, if you wanted to keep getting in line all night. I mean, the tour is free. So someone has probably done that. Anyway, the man's wife came over and found it all pretty funny in the way where she was really embarrassed. I think she said something along the lines of "You can have him."
Time for the ghost stories! As I said earlier, Milwaukee has a rich history of beer production. In fact, it was once the beer capital of the U.S. Our city was home to brands like Miller, Pabst, Blatz, and Schlitz. The beer barons from hundreds of years ago may be gone, but their mansions remain. Some people say these mansions are haunted.
This is the Pabst Mansion. It's an impressive Victorian structure, and is decorated to fit that time period. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while might remember the Gothic Grandeur post. The gorgeous mansion in that post was built by Frederick Pabst for his daughter.
Some say that the mansion is haunted by the ghost of Captain Frederick Pabst. I remember one time I visited the mansion with my Mom and a family friend. We were joking about the ghost stories, especially one where Frederick Pabst is said to appear at the top of a staircase. Just as we were joking and pointing to the top of the stairs, a docent walked into that very spot! We all yelled "Ahhh!" The poor guy wondered what was wrong. We said "We thought you were the ghost of Captain Pabst!" He thought it was pretty funny as I recall. Here's what Frederick Pabst really looked like:
I also remember a time when I wandered off in the mansion and found myself in Frederick Pabst's bedroom. I don't think I realized this at the time. A children's school group stopped by the doorway, and the tour guide told them, "Frederick Pabst died in his rocking chair in the corner of that room." Right where I was standing. Yeah, thanks for that!
A favorite old ghost story involving Frederick Pabst goes like this:
A workman, let's call him Joe, comes to the Pabst mansion to fix a few things. Soon Joe is disturbed by a man who says he is overseeing the job. The workman decides to complain to the museum volunteers about the man distracting him. They tell Joe that no one else is in the house. The workman describes the man who has been bugging him about his work. The volunteers recognize his description and show him a photo of Frederick Pabst. Joe is shocked - The man in the photo looks exactly like the one who was talking to him!
Pretty spooky story, eh? I ran across some other Pabst mansion ghost stories online. Volunteers at the mansion reported objects moving, doors slamming, and mysterious cold breezes in the house.
Speaking of ghosts and beer, you know what time it is...