In 1853, Ferdinand Stachler built a brewery one mile east of Groveland on what is now Old Highway 120 and called it Garrote Brewery. It was conveniently located on the Big Oak Flat Road and became a popular stopping place for travelers. Local farmers grew and sold barley to the brewmaster until the brewery ceased operation after some 50 years.

In 1865, German born Eugene Mueller bought the brewery, renamed it Mueller Brewery and operated it until his death in 1906. Eugene added wide front doors to Stachler’s original rectangular building and provided long wooden tables and ample shade trees for his customers seeking rest, relaxation and libation.

Mueller served not only Groveland and its surrounding areas, but he also sent his famous ale over the Sierra to the mining camp of Bodie. With some 65 saloons, Bodie consumed great quantities of his Groveland brewed beverage.

Mueller shipped his product to Bodie by way of the Bloody Canyon Trail, aptly named for the sharp treacherous rocks which often caused cuts to the legs of horses and pack animals traveling its route. An occasional lost cask or mule was not uncommon due to the dangerous loose rock on the trail’s edge.

Besides his famous ale, Mueller also produced a gin product that was popular with the locals. The brewery building stood unused from about 1911 until World War II. Over time the brewery building decayed leaving only the stone ruins of the rear wall, a stone hop kiln, and large spring-fed pit which may have been used to keep the beer cold.

Eugene and Pauline Mueller had four children over the years, three daughters and one son. Two daughters, Louisa and Clara married brothers Herman and Henry Porath. Son Paul, also known as Eugene Jr., was killed instantly in his 40s while working as a timber faller. The Mueller family is interred in the Oak Grove (Divide Cemetery).

— Frank Perry




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