Thursday, March 17, 2016

Haunted Ale Houses and Breweries

Image courtesy of

Each year at this time I, like many other writers, try to find material that focuses on the tradition of St. Patrick's Day. Last year I had a lot of fun researching haunted forests and the leprechaun trickster. After agonizing on which direction I wanted to go this year, I have finally decided.

Normally I do not like to only write about haunted locations. Everybody does that these days. The material gets to be a bit repetitive. Despite my reluctance, though, I have come across some rather fascinating information about 3 haunted pubs and breweries. I'd love to share the fascination with you. So... grab a frosty mug of your favorite liquid. Erin Go Braugh!

The Grace Neill Pub

This establishment is the oldest in Ireland, being founded in the year 1611. It is located in Donaghadee, County Down and was first opened under the name "King's Arms." The site is considered the oldest pub by the Guinness Book of World Records. It is also claimed that a progressive woman named Grace was a patron of the pub and around the mid-1800's came to own the rights for the infamous watering hole. She ran the pub for many years up until her death in 1918. She lived to be 98 years old - quite the ripe old age for a bar owner.

It is no surprise that her spirit still lingers inside of the Grace Neill. There have been numerous reports:

    "A ghost of an old woman in Victorian clothing has been spotted in dark corners of the inn, and her spirit can be seen at the front bar, straightening glasses and furniture and switching lights on and off." -

The building itself naturally has a very rich history that opens the doors for great paranormal activity. Strange shuffling can be heard on the second floor - perhaps patrons still socializing after hundreds of years. I would suggest that the paranormal activity at the Grace Neill would be considered a residual haunting, as the psychic energies of several centuries have embedded themselves in the furniture, walls, and atmosphere and continuously replay as the residual energies re-manifest themselves. 

Many paranormal investigators have visited this site and have verified the claims of spirits passing through patrons, glasses moving across the bar, lights flickering on and off, and the distinctive smell of pipe smoke in the air despite the fact that smoking is banned inside. Ironically, Grace was fond of lighting up her clay pipe. The video below was recorded by Connect 2 Paranormal Ulster and it reveals a very active table levitation seance performed inside of the Grace Neill's Pub. The crew is very excited, check it out:

The Moon River Brewing Company

In 1821 a man by the name of Elazer Early completed the building located at 21 West Bay Street in Savannah, Georgia. Initially it was opened as the City Hotel and it was the meeting place for many prominent residents who gathered together to enjoy a different kind of "spirit," those that were imported from all over the world. Notable figures like James Audubon resided here for over 6 months, during the heyday of the hotel's business. Then one day in 1864 the City Hotel checked out its last guest. The problem is, though, several of the visitors still remained inside.

City Hotel courtesy haden99 - Flickr
Perhaps the most haunting part of the Moon River story is that the building was used frequently as a hospital for children with yellow fever. 

In 1876, near Savannah's eastern docks, an outbreak occurred that spread rapidly through the town. Normally this is an illness spread by mosquitoes in South America and Africa. The deadly symptoms of this disease quickly spread panic and when you read what its victims endured, you'll understand why:

     "Yellow fever was a scary and mysterious disease bringing on a sudden and painful death. Early symptoms included chills, followed by a fever, back pains, and jaundice (yellow-green tint to the skin) which gave the disease its name. After uncontrollable hemorrhaging from the mouth, nose, and stomach, deathg often soon followed. About sixty percent of those infected died and the disease usually ran its course in about six or seven days." -

Imagine now, if you would, small children being housed on the second floor (the picture above) and having dozens, perhaps hundreds of these innocent victims spewing out blood from their mouths or coming out uncontrollably from the other end. The disease would take these children very quickly and the psychic energies that would emanate from them and the adults taking care of them would be very intense. The intensity of these energies would absorb into the walls, floorboards, and furniture everywhere inside the Moon River Brewery. 

It is no wonder that children have been seen on the first floor. They are trapped on this physical plane and are curious what has happened to them and why they cannot communicate with the living. These hauntings could either be residual or intelligent. My research has not been able to ascertain either way.

The activity here involves a variety of other ghosts. "Toby" resides in the basement, creating cold spots for unsuspecting visitors. The second floor also is reportedly where a man named James Stark was shot by the town physician, Phillip Minas. The dining room hosts an activity of guests being touched and grabbed. If you travel up to the upper floors, specifically the fourth floor, there are reports that a dark energy permeates the atmosphere. This too is attributed to the children who suffered from the yellow fever epidemic. With so much activity being reported from this site, I hope someday to be able to check it out myself.

Lemp Mansion courtesy Paul Sableman - Flickr
The Lemp Mansion

Here in St. Louis we have a brewery that has gotten world acclaim for its haunted nature. As far back as "November of 1980, Life magazine declared the Lemp Mansion one of the most haunted places in America." (Alaspa) Nearly 40 years later, this site is just as active - if not even more so. 

The legacy of the brewery and eventual mansion was started by a man named Johann Adam Lemp. He immigrated here from Eschwege, Germany and began his entrepreneurial endeavors by opening a small grocery store at the corners of Delmar and 6th streets. At the time he was brewing his own vinegar and he also produced a "lager-style" beer that was a completely new idea for the St. Louis area. His grocery store did so well that he was able to sell off the grocery store and buy land for the current Lemp Brewery.

Lemp Brewery courtesy Tom Bastin - Flickr
The real paranormal story behind the mansion is the Lemp family - and many of you may be familiar with it. It all began with William Lemp, who was Johann's son, and it is his time at the helm that gave the family name its wealth and prestige. But power like this comes with a price, and it is the mystery behind this "price" that has created all of the intense activity on the property.

William had two sons, William Jr and Frederick. Unfortunately he favored his "golden boy" Frederick far too much which may have led to his son's insistent drive to work himself to death, literally. At the age of 28 he died of heart failure under suspicious conditions. He had begun complaining of ill health earlier and was sent to a spa in California to recover. He never improved. William was devastated.

From here a series of deaths created what would become a sort of "curse" for the Lemp family. One of William's closest friends Frederick Pabst suddenly died three years after his son and it changed William forever. Some say it was the name correlation, but no one knows for sure. Within a couple of weeks of Pabst's death, William took his own. Here begins a series of suicides inside the mansion that would plague the Lemp family for generations which included William Jr. and another family member, Elsa Lemp Wright.

The mansion and brewery are both located over limestone caves that the Lemps used to their advantage to keep their beer cold. If you follow my writings at all you know that I am an avid researcher of limestone's effect on paranormal activity. I would assert that such a concentration of stone served as a never-ending energy source for spirits -  a kind of "paranormal buffet," as it might be called. I believe that perhaps several negative entities took residence in the mansion and were the main influences not only for the spiritual and mental health of its residents, but their physical health as well. 

Even today the effects of paranormal attacks are felt by visitors on the Lemp grounds. My wife and several of her friends went on one of the ghost tours that are held daily. While there, one of the rooms hosted a very dark and oppressive energy that my wife was able to physically feel. Her chest became tight and her heart began racing so quickly that she had to leave the room. While in the hallway one of her friends, who was a skeptic, verbally mocked that there was no such things as ghosts. All of a sudden she let out a yell and ran down the hall past everyone. She said that her hair had been pulled hard by something invisible. After all of them convened, it was discovered that other members of the group experienced the heart-racing issue as well.  

Concluding Thoughts

Pubs and breweries tend to be very old structures anywhere you find them in the world. The human passion for the liquid spirits has shaped the social networks of many communities and, for some, given them a rich meaning. Just as intensely as there are cheers of joy and the clinking of glasses, though, there are also the negative effects of too much drink and debauchery. 

Inside the Grace Neill the paranormal activity seems to be residual and positive. Grace was a very cheerful person and her reputation as a pub owner was warmly accepted, just as she was with her patrons. 

On the various floors of the Moon River Brewery we find a mixture of residual and intelligent hauntings. Some of the prestigious members may still be paying a visit here and at the same time there might very well be the trapped souls of yellow fever children still wandering its floors and rooms. We see the latter activity as a common occurrence in tuberculosis hospitals as well. 

And, as for the Lemp Mansion... well, personal experiences have shown that there are very active spirits hosting a myriad of intelligent hauntings that can affect guests both mentally and physically. Whoever the negative entities were that helped to wreak chaos for the Lemp family may very well be still inside. 

So the next time you step into your favorite watering hole, think about the history of the building and the possibility you may be pulling up a stool next to someone you cannot see with your physical eyes.... 

Works Cited

Alaspa, Bryan W. "Ghosts of St. Louis: The Lemp Mansion and Other Eerie Tales". 2007. Schiffer Publishing Ltd.