Clyffside Brewing Company






History

Sohn Brewing Company

Hamilton Brewery was founded in 1845 along McMicken Street in Over-the-Rhine by Johann Sohn and George Klotter, 2 4 which became known as Klotter, Sohn & Company in 1853. In 1866, Sohn bought out Klotter; Klotter went on to establish his own brewery. 4 Sohn renamed the brewery the J.G. Sohn & Company Brewery, which grew into the tenth largest brewhouse in the city. It was reorganized  as the William S. Sohn Brewing Company in November 1900 when Sohn sold out his interest to his brother. 5

Sohn was purchased by Mohawk Brewery in 1907. 4 During Prohibition, Mohawk attempted to ride out the law by producing near-beer and true alcoholic beverages.

On August 3, 1925, federal agents waited from midnight until 6 a.m. the next morning for brewery employees to begin their shift. When the first truck was leaving the facility for delivery, the agents conducted a raid, shooting at the truck driver and arresting numerous brewery employees. Sixty barrels and 35 half-barrels of beer were confiscated. 4 No other beer was produced by Mohawk and it closed before the end of Prohibition. 6

Clyffside Brewery

Clyffside Brewery began in 1933 1 4 when Paul Esselborn, at the Royal Bavarian School of Brewing in Germany, organized the company in the former Mohawk Brewery complex. The company’s signature selections included Felsenbrau beer and Old Hickory Ale that was “aged in the hills.” 1 Felsenbrau loosely translated to beer “brewed in the rocks.”

In 1937, the former Sohn homestead was demolished and a brick addition was constructed along McMicken, with another structure built shortly after. 1 3 Underneath were lagering cellars 35-feet wide and 200-feet long, with walls that were 3-feet thick that allowed the cellar to stay at a constant 53º Fahrenheit. 4

C. Howard Knapp became president of the company in 1940, assisted by Ivan Fischer and George Koenig. 1 A bottling plant and fermentation tanks were constructed in 1946, and refrigeration units were installed in the below-ground tunnels to keep the air temperatures cooler. 1 7

Red Top Brewery

Clyffside was sold to the Red Top Brewing Company in 1945, but the company was dragged down with maintenance costs at both Clyffside and its original facility along Dayton Street (the former John Hauck Brewery). 1 2 The company was sold to a group of Cincinnati and Chicago investors for $1.5 million on August 9, 1955. 7 Less than two months later, Red Top began to combine its production facilities into Clyffside, hoping to generate some needed cash by auctioning outdated equipment from its Dayton Street site. 8 But most of the Dayton Street equipment, valued at $8.5 million, did not sell.

Red Top sold a warehouse on York Street to a wholesale grocer in January 1956, followed by another to investors in January 1957. 8 The Dayton Street brewery was demolished later in the year.

Nearly 150 Red Top employees went on strike on May 9, 1957. 8 In August, the company announced that it was merging with Muskegon Motor Specialties Company of Jackson, Michigan in a bid to bolster its own financial assets. Instead, Muskegon sold all of Red Top’s assets to the Terre Haute Brewing Company of Indiana. On September 27, 1957, the last batch of beer was produced from Clyffside.

Ownership

  • 1846-1867: George Klotter and Company 4
  • 1867-1870: Sohn, Kistner and Company
  • 1870-1900: J.G. Sohn and Company
  • 1900-1907: William G. Sohn Brewing Company
  • 1907-1925: Mohawk Brewing Company
  • 1933-1945: The Clyffside Brewing Company
  • 1945-1958: Red Top Brewing Company

Redevelopment

A $3 million redevelopment project for Clyffside, entailing the renovation of the buildings into 19 residential units, broke ground on April 11, 2008. 2 The project was never finished.







Further Reading


Sources

  1. Wimberg, Robert J. “Clyffside Brewing Company.” Cincinnati Breweries. 2nd ed. 1989. Cincinnati: Ohio Book Store, 1997. 35. Print.
  2. Lemaster, Kevin. “The Clyffside hits the market, breaks ground in April.” Building Cincinnati 27 March 2008. 3 March 2010 Article.
    2a. Related: Lemaster, Kevin. “The Clyffside to break ground on $3M condo renovation Friday.” Soapbox 8 April 2008. 3 March 2010 Article.
  3. Lemaster, Kevin. “Brewery District signage installed.” Building Cincinnati 3 Aug. 2008. 3 March 2010 Article.
  4. Hampton, Steve. Prohibition Resistance Text. Cincinnati: n.p., 2010. N. pag. Print.
  5. Holian, Timothy J. “The Phoenix.” Over the Barrel. St. Joseph: Sudhaus Press, 2001. 222. Print. Vol. 2 of 1920-2001. 2 vols.
  6. “Suds Ready to Flow!” Cincinnati Enquirer 14 Mar. 1933: 2. Print.
  7. Holian, Timothy J. “Expansion and Consolidation.” Over the Barrel. St. Joseph: Sudhaus Press, 2001. 119-149. Print. Vol. 2 of 1920-2001. 2 vols.
  8. Holian, Timothy J. “A Death in the Family.” Over the Barrel. St. Joseph: Sudhaus Press, 2001. 202-208. Print. Vol. 2 of 1920-2001. 2 vols.

6 Comments

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This is very interesting. About 35 years ago I was given an “Old Hickory Ale” wooden sign. Recently I’ve been going through many boxes of “stuff” that I’ve accumulated over the years and this was one of my finds. Also found a motorized light-up Schoenling sign which has a revolving graphic of the Cincinnati skyline. I have a few from other defunct breweries as well. This article along with others have been incredibly helpful learning about Cincinnati’s incredible beer history. I grew up drinking Hudepohl, Burger and Schoenling. Thank you for the article.

New things happening – might be time to update this page about Clyffside Brewery! Cincinnati has a rich history, deep appreciation, and a quirky passion for OTR. As a city, we’ve been stubborn for generations about saving these abandoned, historic spaces for future use which is why so many things in OTR weren’t torn down over the years.

$50M multi-building, mixed-use project coming to Over-the-Rhine – https://www.cincinnati.com/story/money/2019/06/26/50-m-mixed-use-project-coming-over-rhine/1569014001/

https://www.otrbrewerydistrict.org/about_news_061004_cb_tapping.php

Awesome
online research and very valuable for http://www.ancestry.com and
http://www.jewishgen.org http://www.misbach.com family members searching for their
family roots. Our legacy goes back to Budapest, Hungary with Joseph
Sohn(NOT REAL LAST SUR-NAME) Bettleheim. I have traced our Family Tree
back to 5 generations,,,,,No Pikes, No Garlands, No Sohns, but Hodges,
Benges, and Bettleheims. We are 75% Jewish on Paternal Hampton side
Levi Tribe & Eastern Band Cherokee, Norwegian, French, German,
Hampton Court United Kingdom royalty to William the Conqueror I,
Catholic & Puritan Virginians. 25% Jewish on Maternal Mother’s side
Judah Tribe & Western Band Cherokee, Stanford Hodge Bettleheim
& Eliza Jane Vaughn Pike Bettleheim had 1 son, my Grand-father,
James Pike Hodge Bettleheim, which was kept a family secret for many
long years because Stanford was about 15 and Eliza Jane was about 35 (20
years age difference). Eliza Jane Vaughn finally married David Pike
after having Golda, by Dr. Tilly, Petula by Mr. Jones, Delilah by Mr.
Proffitt and My Grand-Father, James, by Stanford Hodge Bettleheim of
Budapest, Hungary, a Messianic Jewish Baptist like his Brother, Joseph
Sohn Bettleheim of Budapest, Hungary also a Messianic Jew Wesleyan
Holiness. My Grand-Father James Pike married My Grand-Mother Evangeline
Johnson Philpot (Levi’s widow) about 50 and My Grand-Father James was
about 30 years old. Their lives were blessed by 4 children by Levi and 4
children by James. Men seemed to die young from Tuberculosis, lung
fatal disease. Smoking and alcoholism were 2 habits that caused earlier
deaths as well it seemed. Widows 2 or 3 or 4 times was common and
wives married sisters husbands giving them double first cousins;etc…
Bedtime…more tomorrow as God is willing. Amen.

11/2/2017…Thu…8:24 am
Dr. James Hampton here greeting all family and friends. Lonnie Hubbard has died. He was my first cousin. He had back surgery and a blood clot caused his death. His Memorial Service was held at the United Pentecostal Church (Wings of Deliverance Tabernacle). It was a good time of loving, tears, and laughter shared by many. Lonnie donated all his books to a Library in the Church. The Pikes, Sohns, Bettleheims, Hubbards, Hamptons and others were united once again at the passing of a loved one. Amen.

Awesome online research and very valuable for http://www.ancestry.com and http://www.jewishgen.org http://www.misbach.com family members searching for their family roots. Our legacy goes back to Budapest, Hungary with Joseph Sohn(NOT REAL LAST SUR-NAME) Bettleheim. I have traced our Family Tree back to 5 generations,,,,,No Pikes, No Garlands, No Sohns, but Hodges, Benges, and Bettleheims. We are 75% Jewish on Paternal Hampton side Levi Tribe & Eastern Band Cherokee, Norwegian, French, German, Hampton Court United Kingdom royalty to William the Conqueror I, Catholic & Puritan Virginians. 25% Jewish on Maternal Mother’s side Judah Tribe & Western Band Cherokee, Stanford Hodge Bettleheim & Eliza Jane Vaughn Pike Bettleheim had 1 son, my Grand-father, James Pike Hodge Bettleheim, which was kept a family secret for many long years because Stanford was about 15 and Eliza Jane was about 35 (20 years age difference). Eliza Jane Vaughn finally married David Pike after having Golda, by Dr. Tilly, Petula by Mr. Jones, Delilah by Mr. Proffitt and My Grand-Father, James, by Stanford Hodge Bettleheim of Budapest, Hungary, a Messianic Jewish Baptist like his Brother, Joseph Sohn Bettleheim of Budapest, Hungary also a Messianic Jew Wesleyan Holiness. My Grand-Father James Pike married My Grand-Mother Evangeline Johnson Philpot (Levi’s widow) about 50 and My Grand-Father James was about 30 years old. Their lives were blessed by 4 children by Levi and 4 children by James. Men seemed to die young from Tuberculosis, lung fatal disease. Smoking and alcoholism were 2 habits that caused earlier deaths as well it seemed. Widows 2 or 3 or 4 times was common and wives married sisters husbands giving them double first cousins;etc… Bedtime…more tomorrow as God is willing. Amen.

Pretty cool history, I hope the property comes back as an active business soon. It has a lot of character, and adds to Cincinnati’s rich history.

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