You can! For a small fee (really, it’s small). And it’s only sort of a brewery. A few days ago, I got an email from Todd Kimmell, who owns what he believes is the oldest brewery structure in the United States, a building that dates from the late 1600s. Here’s a chunk of the email he sent me, which includes links to more information, including a real estate listing (the place is for sale). (Yes, think of me as your multiple-listing agent):
In the late 70s and 80s, a New Jersey historian named Dr. Henry Bisbee plotted out the grounds of the first governor of West Jersey’s late 1600s mansion, including his various outbuildings and neighbors, near the Delaware River in Burlington, NJ.
He had the help of civil engineers and other historians, and used old photos, drawings, written descriptions, and especially deed surveys from 1745.
The only remaining building from the 1600s was the brew house, which had been doubled in size and turned into a domicile about 1770, and added onto further approximately 1850-1870.
The brew house, known locally as Ivy Cottage is oddly situated and oddly shaped… only if you look at it as a Georgian home. As an outbuilding from the late 1600s, it is neither oddly shaped nor oddly situated. It makes perfect sense.
My wife and I bought the place because it was an oddball Georgian home near the river, and we could watch people along the Promenade and boats on the Delaware River from our second floor bedroom.
When I pulled the ceiling down in the dining room, I found construction techniques and materials that I’d never seen before.
I’d grown up in Squire Cheyney’s 1740s house in Cheyney, PA, and had been in and out of renovations and restorations of similar structures my whole life.
This was different. Broad boards hit with an ax and spread apart, then nailed up to sizeable beams with very large, very early nails. Then, the whole thing was mucked with a thick coat of plaster. I knew [builders had] mastered horse-powered or people-powered lath, skinny lath, pretty early, so this had to be WAY early.
He goes on to say that after more demolition, he and his wife discovered that
more of the house clearly showed the drastically different construction methods and materials between the late 1600s brew house and the mid 1700s Georgian home built up, over and around it.
I believe this makes Ivy Cottage the oldest brewery in America. Jamestown might have post holes identified as where the brewery might have been, and our beloved Yuengling will always be the oldest continually brewing brewery, but it is a comparative snot nosed kid next to Ivy Cottage.
More information (including the real estate listing): By the way, I have NO idea if this really is the oldest standing brewhouse in the country, but hey, it sounds good!