The Hudepohl Brewing Company brewed golden lager, dark lager, seasonal bock beer and several regional styles of lager in the Over-the-Rhine neighbourhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. The brewery later relocated to the shuttered Herman Leckman Brewing Company in Queensgate. Hudepohl vacated the factory in 1987 when it merged with the Schoenling Brewing Company.
Koehler Brewing Company
Ludwig Hudepohl II was born on July 20, 1842, to Ludwig and Agnes Hudepohl, German immigrants who came to Cincinnati in 1838. 14 Ludwig Hudepohl II was trained by two doctors at an early age to be a skilled artisan in medical instruments; however, he had other interests and was allowed to join his father and George Kotte in the founding of a grocery store on Abigail Street in 1866. 1 6 14 Kotte was another German immigrant who also owned a wine and liquor shop near Main and 9th street.
Ludwig passed away in 1881, and Ludwig Hudepohl II assumed the responsibilities of his father which gave him new ideas to expand the business. 14 In 1885, Hudepohl and Kotte partially purchased the Koehler Brewery, 15 formerly known as the Buckeye Brewery, on Buckeye Street in Over-the-Rhine, and exited the grocery business. 3
By 1886, Koehler Brewery was producing 25,000 barrels of beer per year, increasing to 40,000 barrels per year by the end of the decade. 14 Koehler was manufacturing Buckeye, Munchener, Dortmunder, Hudepohl, and Koehler beers, employing over 100 persons. 16
Production had increased to 100,000 barrels per year by 1893, which Hudepohl and Kotte hired architect Frederick Wolf to design a new structure for their brewery. 16
Kotte died in 1893 and his widow, Mary, became partner in the Koehler Brewery despite her lack of business or brewing knowledge. 14 After she passed in 1898, Hudepohl purchased the Koehler Brewery on February 20, 1900, renaming the brewery after himself. Hudepohl Brewing Company was formed with a working capital of $150,000.
Hudepohl Brewing Company
Cincinnati had become known as the beer capital of the world and the average resident at the time drank 40 gallons of beer a year more beer, more than any other city in the United States. 7 By 1900, the city boasted 26 breweries that produced 1.4 millions of beer annually.
Ludwig Hudepohl II died on April 27, 1902, and control of the brewery was passed to his wife, Maria, with assistance by William A. Pohl, a son-in-law. 14 17
When Prohibition was enacted in 1920, Hudepohl survived by marketing soft drinks and non-alcoholic “near beers.” 3 The repeal of Prohibition in 1933 led the brewery to reopen its alcohol production lines.
A 490 barrel wooden cask, to age beer, was soon installed. 3 Constructed in 1900 by the Hauser, Brenner & Faith Cooperage, the keg was delivered by a parade of horses atop a large cart which rambled through the city streets. 18 Other improvements, totalling $130,000, included a new bottling machine that allowed the company to package 200 barrels of beer per shift, a soaker and pasteurizer, filling and labelling devices, and a new condenser and water cooler.
Nearby, the Lackman Brewing Company had extensive plans for its production facilities. 18 Their factory, at 6th and Stone Street, dated to 1860 and needed complete replacement. 9 Lackman had an option on four acres of land in the Riverside neighbourhood and planned for a $250,000, 50,000 barrel-per-year brewery with plenty of room for expansion. Lackman Brewery president, H. Albert Lackman, stated that many changes in the brewing industry post-Prohibition necessitated the construction of a modern facility capable of producing 100,000 barrels per year.
To carry out the new facility, Lackman employed Carl J. Kiefer, a local industrial engineer with experience in factory architecture. Kiefer and his associate, H. N. Hermann, came up with an Art Moderne design that based on models from Canada. 18 Lackman was encouraged by the results and was readying the new plan to be put into operation as soon as Prohibition ended.
Despite the construction of the new brewery, Lackman failed to secure a federal permit to brew alcohol and never reopened post-Prohibition. 18
In 1934, Hudepohl purchased the Lackman brewery structures and designated the facility as a secondary production plant. 18 Hudepohl constructed four significant additions to the 6th Street factory by 1947, the last one being the completion of a seven-level ageing plant designed by Felsberg & Gillepsie Architects. 19 It contained 40 glass-lined tanks that each held 30,000 gallons, along with fermenting tanks, which cost $700,000. 20
The last addition was significant purely on size and scale. On August 10, 1947, streetcars were rerouted, and overhead electrical wires were temporarily removed, to allow the delivery of a new 220 bottle-per-minute pasteurizer on the second floor of the new structure. It required a massive hole be cut in the side of the brewery, and a crane lifted the 64,000-pound pasteurizer into place.
By the 1950’s, it became clear that maintaining two breweries, one on West 6th Street, the other on East Clifton Avenue, was not economical. Besides the costs of operating two plants, the East Clifton Avenue site was far older and landlocked.
Hudepohl maintained offices in its East Clifton Avenue location but moved all brewing operations to its West 6th plant in 1958. 22 After remaining idle for several years, much of the original brewery was demolished in 1963. 21
On October 28, 1959, plans were revealed to spend over $1 million over five years to build a new brewhouse to modernise its brewery and to stay competitive with brewing titans from St. Louis and Milwaukee. 22 An automated brewhouse soon opened with all stainless-steel equipment, a 30,000-pound capacity malt hopper, an 8,500-gallon cereal cooker, a 17,500-gallon mash mixer, a 15,000-gallon lauter tub, and a 700-barrel brew kettle at the cost of $5 million.
The ground was broken for yet another expansion on June 29, 1964: a new packaging warehouse and service facility with the capacity of 200,000 cases of beer with an estimated cost of $4 million. 22 The new building contained nine docks and a 7,000-square-foot maintenance area. A new administration building was erected in May 1967 that allowed all operations at East Clifton Avenue to cease.
Hudepohl Brewery suffered from declining sales in the 1970’s amind its ailing flagship, Hudy 14-K. Looking towards the success of Miller’s Lite, 1978 Hudepohl introduced Hudy Delight in 1978. 22 It was a lighter beer that was marketed heavily. The notion of a lighter beer with fewer calories had been around since pre-Prohibition but was hardly displayed or promoted. By late 1980, Hudy Delight amounted to 25% of all sales at Hudepohl, and the brewery saw an 8.6% increase in sales.
Acquisition of Burger Brewing
A nearby rival, Burger Brewing Company, was facing steep slides in its sales. 22 In the fall of 1972, the company began secret negotiations with other breweries but could find no buyers for its Cincinnati plant or its brands. The company soon entered into talks with Hudepohl for a takeover of selected assets.
On March 16, 1973, Burger closed its Central Parkway brewing factory and announced that it was exiting the brewing business. 22 At the same time, Burger and Hudepohl finalised an agreement in which Hudepohl would buy most of Burger’s assets, including trademarks, labels, advertising rights and formulas, for $650,000.
At the same time, Hudepohl saw the need for a premium beer that could compete with those from Europe. The company instructed master brewer Gerhard Erftenbeck to formulate a new brew, exclusively for Cincinnati, which would pass the 400-year-old Reinheitsgebot Beer Purity Laws in Germany. 22 The result was a dark amber lager that was aged for six weeks: the Christian Moerlein Cincinnati Select, a reference to the local brewer Christian Moerlein and a disguised push to get the Hudepohl brand name out into a broader market. Marketing plans for the Christian Moerlein Cincinnati Select were unprecedented, saturating the local television stations with advertisements and going rogue with subliminal messages. The effort worked.
In 1982, Hudepohl purchased the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, then one of the nation’s largest. 3 7
Hudepohl then merged with the Schoenling Brewing Company to form Hudepohl-Schoenling in 1986. 3 7 Schoenling had opened its Central Avenue in 1933 before expanding to a plant along Central Parkway and Liberty Street. 4 Citing an aging plant, Hudepohl-Schoenling consolidated with their Central Parkway facility and closed their West Sixth Street brewery in 1987. 9 11
The Boston Beer Company announced that it was purchasing Hudepohl-Schoenling on December 19, 1996. 1 Hudepohl-Schoenling had produced several of Boston Beer’s labels, including Samuel Adams, for the past year. Heading the purchase was Boston Beer President Jim Koch, a Cincinnati native whose father in 1946 was a brewing apprentice for Hudepohl. 2
The recipe for the Boston Lager originally belonged to Koch’s great-great-grandfather, who produced it in a brewery in St. Louis and called it Louis Koch Lager. 2 It was re-discovered in 1983 in an attic at the Cincinnati suburb, Indian Hill residence of Koch’s father when the younger Koch came home for Christmas.
Boston Beer continued to produce the Hudepohl and Schoenling brands at its Central Parkway facility. 1 It then expanded the plant to produce its Boston Beer labels.
On January 6, 1999, Hudepohl-Schoenling announced that it was selling its beer division to a group of investors. 4 The purchaser was Royal Brewing, a new Cincinnati-based startup headed by Randy Hull, a former executive at the G. Heileman Brewing Company. Hudepohl beer would continue to be produced at the Central Parkway plant.
Hudepohl-Schoenling would stay in operation as the Tradewinds Beverage Company, which focused on non-alcoholic drinks, such as iced tea and juices. 4 5
By June, investors of Royal Brewing were having difficulty in securing financing for the purchase of the Hudepohl-Schoenling beer division. 6 Instead, Cleveland-based Snyder International Brewing Group, headed by David Synder and Chris Livingston, purchased the brewing operations. Snyder and Livingston had earlier turned around Cleveland’s Crooked River Brewing Company.
West 6th Brewery Redevelopment
In 2002, Hudepohl’s abandoned West 6th Street brewery sold at a sheriff’s sale to Pete Bigelow, part of Keene Group, a group of investors. 8 Keene began looking for a developer for the six buildings on the site for possible conversion into offices and loft apartments. Unable to secure financing, the property was sold in October 2004 to Weal Safi and other developers for $172,000. 9 11
The new investors announced plans to redevelop the West 6th Street plant into Hudepohl Square. 11 It would contain offices, residences, and light industrial facilities. Around 300,000-square-feet would be preserved under the plan, with the giant fermenting and storage tanks incorporated into the new development.
To generate revenue for the project, the developers listed the building’s 17-story smokestack up for auction on eBay for $1.5 million, but it drew no offers. 11
Selective demolition began in late 2004, but a three-year legal fight against Demetrius Ball, the contractor handling the work, left Safi without financial support or money to go ahead with the redevelopment. 13 The legal tangle eventually ended in Safi’s favour.
Plans for a second Interstate 75 bridge over the Ohio River also soured Safi’s Hudepohl Square proposal. 9 One of the alternatives for the project called for the construction of a new highway bridge through the former Hudepohl brewery.
The partly demolished Hudepohl brewery drew the ire of the City of Cincinnati Buildings and Inspections Department, who condemned the complex in January 2007. 9 In April, Safi presented new development plans for the project at a pre-prosecution hearing and then applied for a Vacant Building Maintenance License until the proper building permits could be managed. 10
Safi, and his brother, Saeed, were found guilty on three misdemeanour counts for fire code violations at the derelict brewery complex in December 2009. 13 They submitted to a compliance program on the condition they offer a timeline for work to complete immediate improvements to the property to bring it up to general compliance. The city ordered the West 6th Street property secured.
Gregory Hardman, of Cincinnati, acquired the rights of Christian Moerlein beer in 2004. 23 Hardman then purchased the rights to Hudepohl on May 1, 2006. 24 Hudy Delight was reintroduced in November 2008 with 30th Anniversary cans and bottles, and Hudy 14-K was reintroduced in September 2009. The Christian Moerlein brand was revitalised as a standalone brewery, producing Hudepohl and Berger beer labels, and craft beer under the Christian Moerlein brand.