Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Ruins of Hudepohl Brewing Company

Until 1985, this building was home to the headquarters of Cincinnati's local Hudepohl Brewing Company.

The former brewery's imposing smokestack can be seen from many different areas of the city, even from club seats at Paul Brown Stadium (80 dollar seats for only 25 dollars thanks to the scalper out front). I didn't venture into the city's industrial Queensgate neighborhood until a cold Wednesday after work to see it up close for myself. 700 WLW had been reporting that it was about 15 degrees outside. Having forgot my coat at work, I walked about the building in a work t-shirt, snapping this photograph while Sherrif's deputies unloaded the few remaining prisoners from the now closed Queensgate Jail just a block down.

If you're from around here, you may have heard of or drank Hudepohl. If you're not from the Cincinnati area, Hudepohl probably isn't as common of a name as brands like Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch or Pabst. The reluctance of the company to stay local and not enter the national market is probably what lead to their demise, but Hudepohl was once one of many local Cincinnati breweries. Founded in 1885, Hudepohl thrived in Cincinnati, a city which at the time was home to a strong beer making tradition. The company survived Prohibition by offering non-alcoholic products and the beer was even selected by the U.S. War Department to be distributed as morale booster for American troops fighting in the Pacific Theatre. In 1946 construction was completed on a new manufacturing facility in the city's Queensgate neighborhood. Throughout the next few decades Hudepohl would compete for dominance over other local breweries in the area. As their local competitors began to close up shop due to the rise of national brands like Budwesier, Hudepohl expanded into the specialty beer market, but not the national market hoping to continue dominance over the Queen City.

A 1970's era Hudepohl commercial:

Faced by ever increasing market competition from the larger national brands, Hudepohl celebrated it's centennial anniversary in 1985 by looking for a buyer. In 1986 the company was purchased by local competitor Schoenling Brewing Company. Schoenling continued to sell the Hudepohl brand and operate the Queensgate plant. In 1987 all production of Hudepohl and Schoenling brands were moved to Schenling's Central Parkway plant, leaving the Queensgate plant and it's smokestack bearing the Hudepohl name abandoned.

According to Kevin Lemaster of Building Cincinnati, the property eventually came under the ownership of Hudepohl Square LLC, a company planning to redevelop the property, although at this time definite plans remain unclear. A partial demolition of the brewery began in summer of 2007, but was halted and the former brewery fenced off with it's future uncertain.

A Tour to the Ruins of Hudepohl

It was Friday. Possibly the last day of exploring Cincinnati for awhile for me before I went back to school. Sherman and I met up for breakfast at 8 A.M. An early start, intending to make most of the day. Following our visit to the breakfast bar at Big Boy's we drove down Linn St., the smokestack of the abandoned brewery in the distance. Pulling up to the block we passed the now closed Queensgate Jail facility. We parked the car and took a look at the brewery, getting our cameras ready for an exploration. We noticed a man in a nearby truck taking a nap. Not wanting to startle him should he wake and see two photographers taking a tour of an abandoned brewery, we decided to come back later. An hour later he was awake, but just sitting there. Another hour passed, we came back, he was gone. The tour could now begin.

We stumbled over bricks, concrete and debris as we made our way through a field where part of the building once stood. Looking up at the building was like looking back to 1945 Berlin. The place was torn up, like it had been bombed by the liberating forces of the Allies.

The building had been severed in half, leaving two structures remaining as if they were two separate buildings. Through an archway at the bottom of one structure we found some stairs leading to the brewery basement, which featured cathedral like ceilings.

Within the stone confines of the basement, it was much colder than it had been outside. We could clearly see our breath as we had a look around. On the walls and floors were relics from those who used to work down here. Old phones and lanterns, even a time-punch clock that had been manufactured in Cincinnati:

-Holders for the time-punch cards.

Hallways leading away from the basement workshop gave way to dead ends and more rooms. In one room we came across and old keg and other equipment:

Then there was this door, marked "storage."

I opened the door and found the inside of the next room to be almost pitch black, even with light creeping in from the outside. Using a flashlight I did my best to see. Before I could even take a step forward into the darkness I noticed a large, gaping hole in the metal floor. The room looked like the sunken remains of the Titanic.

It was so dark that it took 30 seconds and a flashlight to even get an exposure on the camera bright enough to see what was inside. We assumed the large metal tank on the left to be a storage or fermenting tank that once held Hudepohl brand beer. We were anxious to see more of the place, but not anxious to die. We closed the door on the dark, vast "storage" room and went on to another section of the facility.

Crossing the field of debris again, we made our way over to the second structure. This was the shipping/receiving area where bright yellow Hudepohl trucks once pulled up to receive their shipments and prepare to make deliveries.

-Entering the warehouse.

I assume this other section must have been some sort of warehouse. There wasn't anything in there that would hint it had been a brewery. This section of the building contained lawn equipment and just general junk. There were two interesting relics found inside though:

The above "Cat's Diggity Dog" vendor stand bore the University of Cincinnati emblem and the only relic of the Hudepohl brand we could find was found on a door inside the warehouse...

...a sticker bearing the logo of "Hudy Delight."

Due to the demolition and destruction of the brewery, access to the upper floors was cut off, which is a shame. I bet the top has an amazing view of the downtown skyline. We stood out on the shipping decks as the sun set, taking our last few pictures. This place had once been home to a company that dominated the Cincinnati beer market. Cincinnati had once been home to many local breweries, but like the Hudepohl Brewing Company Cincinnati's affair with beer production has faded with time. Although, there are still many breweries that produce their products here in Cincinnati. Today Hudepohl can still be bought as a specialty beer at places like Jungle Jim's in Fairfield, Ohio according to a 1999 Cincinnati Enquirer article and a friend who said he purchased some there.

One more 1970's Hudepohl commercial:

The exploration of the Ruins of the Hudepohl Brewing Company was the first Queen City Discovery of 2009 and a great way to end my Christmas break. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for many more Queen City Discovery updates in the coming weeks!

"Have a happy Hudey, flavor's on the way!"

Part 2: Climbing to the Top of Mt. Hudepohl - A followup article.

Ever tried Hudepohl beer in the past or recently? Share your opinion in the comments section.

To see more pictures from the abandoned Hudepohl Brewery visit: Queen City Discovery Photo Gallery - Hudepohl Brewing Company

Join the Queen City Disco Newsletter

Previous Update: Forgotten Cincinnati


  1. It's amazing how so many of these abandoned places are left with so much in them. In some cases it just looks like the tenants locked the door and headed out never to return again...don't mind the fact that you just left all that stuff behind. Great photos and history, thanks.

  2. Yeah this is great stuff man. Nice work. Nothing like a little urban expedition.

  3. Thanks for the tour! I've always wondered what that place looked like inside, and now I know.

  4. Hudepohl will be making a huge comeback in the near future, thanks to a man named Greg Hardman. Eventually, Hudy will take it's rightful place of being brewed in the Queen City once again. Great pics.

  5. awesome, awesome post! thanks for sharing!

  6. I remember those commercials...thanks!

  7. This was interesting. Thanks.

    I presume you are very young based on the text and that you misspelled Schoenling's (Schenling's).

    Bet you can't tell what their specialty was.

  8. ^Yes, because only the very young make spelling mistakes.

  9. Great tour, and I can feel how you risked yourself trespassing in that place!

    BTW, I added you to my blogroll at .

  10. That is awesome! How did you get in there???

  11. I still miss 14K. On the time clock.I worked for that company for 17 years. They were on Central Ave.

  12. You can still buy Hudy delight at a number of places around town, including I think Queen City Kroger. Also, you can order a frosty mug of Hudy with your burger at Quatman's in Norwood.

  13. visted the site before the tear down of the middle section and was abel to get access to the top floors, the bottling line room was still there with no machines, found stacks of old beer labels in a shipping desk that were being used for scrap paper, also large kettle still in one room, found a neat old thermometer still attached to it working, also found some wooden beer keg tops and a neat mechicanical drawing in original frame of a beer keg washer that was stuck behind a large cabinet in the maintence department, I don't think much remains now as it was visted alot by beer can collectors

  14. This was phenomenal. Thank you so much for the beautiful photographs and taking us along - you can almost hear the rumble of the truck engines and the sounds of bottles and kegs clanking around the rooms.

  15. The center section that was torn down was originally the Lackman Brewery. It was purchased by Hudy after Prohibition & added on to over the years. Hudepohl's Pre-Prohibition location still stands on McMicken Ave. just east of Vine St.

  16. Very nice article and excellent pix. I remember the cry of the vendors at the Redleg's games -- "Let's get moody with Hudy". Was always hoping they'd make it as a regional micro-brew, but guess the days of great Cincinnati beers is past. Thanks

  17. I couldn't believe it today when I was shopping in H.E.B. in College Station, TX. An 8-pack of Shoenling Little Kings Cream Ale! This was a great tour. Thanks!

  18. ^Anon, Little Kings is getting back out there. I have a buddy stationed with the Navy Air Wing in OKC and he's able to get Kins out there on base. Where at in College Station are you, near A&M?

  19. It was always my husband's favorite beer! We knew it would go out of business when we left town!

  20. My last name is Hudepohl!!

    1. My family is related to George Kotte who, along with Hudepohl, partially purchased Koehler Brewery formerly known as the Buckeye Brewery on Buckeye St.(today's East Clifton Ave), and exited the grocery business!

    2. I got to know the brewmeister at Hudepohl while attending college in the late 70's. He was usually pretty happy (if you know what I mean) by the time I showed up on a Friday night to buy kegs at a discount to supply some of the parties up the hill at UC. He was very proud of the brewery and would give tours of many of the rooms you showed in your essay as well as the huge pristine copper vats that were used in the brewing process. Time has taken its toll on the facilities that's for sure, but I will have those wonderful memories for my life time. Thanks for reminding me and others of the rich history of Cincinnati and of the Hudepohl brewery!

  21. Love the pic's... This is the first time I have seen these. I am a member of the Family that owned the Brewery. We sold to the Schoenling folks back in 1986. I have been al through the old place back in the dayand I recognize some of the areas... Greg Hardman, who owns the labels, is doing a great job bring back the brands and I hope Cincinnati supports him.

    My Great Grandfather Louis Hudepohl had siblings but his heirs where all daughters with no sons... I would love to kick the rubble if you ever go down again!

  22. Enjoyed the story! Love the conversati on about old abandoned brewerys! Thanks for your efforts!