After a 60-year hiatus, Chaska will once again have a brewery when Schram Haus Brewery opens May 3. Located on a bluff overlooking the city’s historic downtown area, Schram Haus’ modern take on a German beer hall will also pay homage to the city’s rich brewing history, dating back to the mid-1800s.
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Schram Haus is owned and operated by Aaron and Ashley Schram of Schram Vineyards Winery and Brewery in Waconia, the state’s first combination winery and brewery. The couple will continue brewing at their Waconia location, too, but the Chaska location will showcase their beers in a taproom setting.
“It’ll have a different type of feel [compared to the winery]. It’ll be a place where you can belly up to the bar and have a few beers,” says Ashley.
The Schrams remodeled the city’s former Public Works building for their 4,200-square-foot brewery and taproom. The space has 18-foot ceilings and large roll-up garage doors, which now lead out to an outdoor patio. “We want the space to feel comfortable, relaxing, and welcoming,” Aaron says.
The idea to expand beer operations to a new location began several years ago. Aaron and Ashley wanted to increase their production of wine and beer, and Aaron imagined creating a German-style brewery experience—a festive place for the community to gather and socialize.
“In 2006, I went to Munich and fell in love with their beer gardens. Then I came back and met my wife that weekend at Gasthof’s,” he says. While having a winery was his first dream, Aaron hadn’t forgotten about the beer garden idea.
When the building became available in Chaska, about 10 miles away from their current location, the Schrams put their names in. However, they were second in line for the site and put their idea on hold. The site opened up again in 2018 after the original plans fell through and things started falling into place. The Schrams began researching Chaska’s history and learned that it had been a bustling settlement starting in the 1850s for mostly German-speaking immigrants—including talented master brewers.
“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,” Ashley says. “And a lot of the breweries were run by German settlers, which tied in nicely to our own history and German-inspired taproom vision.”
Their plan felt like it fit right in.
Highlighting the city’s history is a wall in Schram Haus called a “brewseum,” featuring reproduced historical pictures. One is a portrait of Bernard Leivermann, founder of the Leivermann Brewery that was located on the same site as Schram Haus. The brewery closed after Prohibition in 1919 and the building was razed to make way for Highway 212 in 1922, according to the Chaska Historical Society.
They also have photos from the Schnitzelbank Club, a men’s drinking group from around 1915 that used to meet near the site. To continue the tradition, the Schrams plan to introduce a more inclusive Schnitzelbank Club; membership details coming soon.
In another nod to the past, some of the bricks in the interior were produced in Chaska during the mid-1800s to early 1900s, when the abundance of high-quality clay and the brick-making knowledge of the German settlers led to a thriving brick-making industry there. Look for the bricks imprinted with “Chaska,” which are placed on two walls as if on a musical scale to the tune of a German drinking song—the Schrams challenge people to figure it out.
And what best to drink while belting out German drinking songs? Schram Haus plans to offer beers that won’t leave drinkers feeling weighed down, made on their 7-barrel brewing system including eight fermentors on site.
“We‘re looking to feature more sessionable beers, which have a lower ABV of 4–5%,” says brewer Eric Reller. He’s developing German-style beers for the lineup such as a helles and another beer that will feature Mandarina Bavaria hops, a newer hop variety from Germany known for its bold, citrusy flavor.
With the weather warming up, Schram’s airy taproom and outdoor patio will be an ideal place to grab a few beers, relax, and play corn hole. A future beer garden is in the works to fully flesh out the German-inspired experience.
Brewers: Scott Wilson and Eric Reller
Beers: 13 rotating taps including a flagship line up of Brickyard Blonde (Blonde Ale), Schram Haus Red (Red Ale), Nacht Nacht (Schwarzbier), Cane Fighter IPA (Fruity IPA), SchramWeisse (Hefeweizen), and cask-conditioned beers.
Address: 3700 Chaska Blvd., Chaska 55318
Hours: Tue–Wed: 4pm–9pm; Fri–Sat: 12pm–10pm; Sun: 12pm–7pm. Hours may be adjusted in June.
Soft Opening: May 3
Grand Opening Weekend: May 31–June 2. Live music Friday evening and Saturday during the day, food trucks, and games including Schrammerschlagen, corn hole, and horseshoes.