Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The new Christian Moerlein Brewery

The Christian Moerlein Brewery on Moore Street in Over-The-Rhine

The new Christian Moerlein Brewery was founded in 2004 by Greg Hardman.  It is named after the Christian Moerlein Brewery that was established in 1818 and operated until prohibition.  The original brewery was the most successful brewery in Cincinnati.  Between the original and new brewery, Hudepohl reintroduced the Christian Moerlein name in 1981.  The Christian Moerlein brew was the first American beer to pass the Bavarian Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot).

One of the lagering tunnels under the Moore Street brewery

In 2012, the new Christian Moerlein Brewery opened on 1621 Moore Street in the former location of the Kaufmann Brewery and the Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Company.  This location is now the home of their brewery and operations.  Along with the Christian Moerlein ales and lagers, the brewery also makes some of the old Cincinnati favorites like Hudepohl, Burger, and Little Kings.  

The Moerlein Lager House at The Banks

Early in 2012, Christian Moerlein opened the Moerlein Lager House at The Banks in Smale Riverfront Park.  The Lager House is a restaurant serving some old style German favorites as well as a microbrewery, which produces the line of Moerlein craft beers.  The Lager House contains many historic photos, paintings, and artifacts from many of the Cincinnati breweries of the past and is the home of the Beer Barons Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Crown Brewery

This brewery got its start as the St. Louis Brewery.  It was founded in 1852 by Jacob Fuchs and Andrew Sommer at 51 Hamilton Road known as McMicken Avenue today.  The St. Louis Brewery stayed in business until 1859.  In 1865, the Bauer Brewery was started by Leonard Bauer and was in operation until 1871 when it became the George Bach Brewery.  The George Bach Brewery changes hands in 1875.  Partners Friedrich Schmidt and Henry Adam start The Schmidt and Adam Brewery.  A year later Adam sells his share to Louis Prell and the name changes to The Schmidt and Prell Brewery.  When Louis Prell dies in 1876, Friedrich partners with his brother Heinrich to start the Schmidt and Bro. Brewery.  The two brothers were previously in business together at the Peter Herancourt Brewery in the West End.  Heinrich died in 1891 and Friedrich takes over the operation and renames the brewery the Schmidt Brothers Brewing Company.  When Friedrich dies in 1898, his wife takes over the brewery and runs it until 1904.

In 1904, Friedrich’s widow sold the brewery to George Lampe and Gerhardt Schmidt and they formed The Crown Brewery.  They brewed beer up until prohibition and attempted to stay in business through prohibition by making root beer and a near beer product called, “Tang”.  Despite their efforts, the brewery closed in 1925.

The brewery buildings at 125, 132, and 134 East McMicken still stand.  Underneath these buildings are lager cellars.  The lager cellars were used as a way to store beer in cooler temperatures prior to the days of refrigeration.  There also is a tunnel that runs beneath McMicken Avenue from one building to the other.  Prior to the days of prohibition there was a law that taxed beer at a higher rate if the bottling and brewing were not separated by a public right of way.  Instead of attempting to roll barrels of beer across a busy street, breweries would often create these tunnels as a way to get beer from one place to another.

Along with the breweries, the home of Friedrich Schmidt still stands at 1711 Lang Street in Over-The-Rhine.

The Crown Brewery and the lagering tunnels are part of the Over-The-Rhine Brewery Tour.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

John Walker Brewery

This brewery started in 1826 when John Walker received the brewery as a payment for a debt.  Walker was unsuccessful at selling it so he started the John Walker Brewery.  The brewery was once located at the corner of Sycamore Street and Reading Road.  In 1836 John Walker got a partner in the business and the name changed to the John Walker & Company.  John Walker died in a brewery accident in 1853 and his wife took over the operations of the brewery until her death in 1858.  After her death, Walker’s nephews operated the brewery.  In 1878 Peter Andrews and Conrad Shultz purchased shares of the brewery from the nephews and changed the name to J. Walker Brewing Company.  The brewery remained in operation until 1912.

In 1879, Walker’s nephews started their own brewery in the West End called The Walker Bros. Brewery, also known as The Champion Ale & Porter Brewery.  This brewery lasted only a few years before closing.

The brewery structures are no longer standing but the home that John Walker built is still located on the northeast corner of Sycamore Street and Liberty Street.  John Walker built the home in 1847 and his nephews added the storefront in 1861 and used it as an apothecary.  The home is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gambrinus Stock Brewing Company

The brewery began in 1832 as the Jonte and Billiods Brewery owned by Peter Jonte and his cousin Friedrich Billiod.  In 1835, Friedrich left and started his own brewery, the Lafayette Brewery and this brewery became the Peter Jonte Brewery.  In 1855 Peter Jonte sold the brewery to Christian Boss and David Ray becoming the Boss and Ray Brewery.  In 1858 Christian Boss buys the brewery and changes the name to the Christian Boss Brewery.  By 1876 the brewery changes its name to the Gambrinus Stock Brewing Company.  The brewery is named for the mythical god of beer, Gambrinus and it was the first brewery in Cincinnati to bottle its own beer.  As a result of prohibition, the brewery closed its doors in 1919 and never reopened.  .  After the repeal of prohibition, the Vienna Brewing Company opened in the former Gambrinus Stock Brewing Company building in 1933, but by 1940 the brewery closed.

The brewery was located at Abigail Street (now 12th Street) and Sycamore.  The main brewery buildings were torn down in 1980 but the brewery stables built in 1870 at 310 Reading Road and the Christian Boss home at 1324 Broadway Street still stand today.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Queen City Brewery Tour

Brewing in Cincinnati can be traced back to 1812 with The Embree Brewery, which was established by Davis Embree along the banks of the Ohio River. With the increased German population in the mid-1800’s, the city saw a rise in brewing and the number of breweries.  At its peak, there were around 36 breweries in Cincinnati with production of over one million barrels of beer making Cincinnati the 3rd largest brewing operation in the country.  With the start of prohibition in 1919 many of the breweries in Cincinnati closed their doors.  Others tried to survive by producing near beer or malt beverages.  With the end of prohibition in 1933 few breweries survived and several reopened.  By 1973 only two breweries remained in Cincinnati and by 1986 the last major brewery in Cincinnati closed.  The brewery landscape of today has changed quite a bit with the arrival of one national brand, the resurrection of one of the most popular breweries and name brands of yesterday, and several microbreweries as well as some handcrafted beers.  There is also an active effort to preserve the history of brewing and the former brewery buildings in Over-The-Rhine and Cincinnati.

Leading the effort in preserving the history of Cincinnati brewing is the Over-The-Rhine Brewery District.  This is done through events such as Bockfest and the Prohibition Resistance Tours.  The mission of the Over-The Rhine Brewery district is to preserve the remaining brewery buildings and lead in redevelopment efforts in the community.  The organization has created a master plan for the brewery district and will lead to many great things including the Brewing Heritage Trail.  Similar to the Freedom Trail in Boston, the Brewing Heritage Trail will run through the Over-The-Rhine Brewery District past many of the old brewery structures and will tell the history of the brewing industry in the area.

The purpose of this tour is to highlight many of the remaining brewery buildings in the area and to provide an overview of the history surrounding these structures.  This by no means is intended to be a detailed view of the brewing history of the area – there are people far more knowledgeable on the subject than me and many books have been written on this subject.  This tour is more to give you the general idea of the brewing history in Cincinnati over time.  For a more in depth view of the brewing history and to see many of the brewing structures close up I highly recommend taking the Prohibition Resistance Tour offered by the Over-The-Rhine Brewery District and checking out one of many books on the subject.