Friday, July 24, 2009

Hudepohl Brewing Company: Tour 3

Years ago the Busch Gardens theme parks in Williamsburg, VA and Pasadena, CA offered tours of their respective nearby Anheuser-Busch brewery's via a monorail. The tours took you through the brewery process and ended in a sample of free beer. Those attractions have long since closed (The Pasadena, CA park is gone entirely), but here in Cincinnati brewery tours still exist...kind of.

The closest monorail is at Jungle Jim's in nearby Fairfield, OH, so unlike the Busch Gardens tours you'll have to walk. Oh, and, also unlike the Busch Gardens tours, this brewery is abandoned and has been since 1985.

I've covered the history and closure of the Hudepohl Brewing Company in two posts before this one, so if you want detailed information on it or want to see more photographs, I suggest you check out the original Hudepohl Brewing Post. This update will focus mainly on the photographs.

The building was split down the middle into two sections, a demolition move that was made in hopes of renovating the facility. The condo renovation is now halted. We had previously explored the Eastern half (pictured above) on our previous trips, yet on this hot, humid day we decided to check out the Western half.

Previously we had been unable to find a way up into this section of the building, most of the stairs and ladders had been removed, except for one, which we found. Ascending the stairs we found our way into an area that once housed offices and a small employee cafeteria. One of the most disappointing things about this building is the lack of historical items left behind, hardly anything gives you a clue to the fact that this once was a brewery. That would change on this trip.

Venturing into the former offices, we found a locked safe. Was there anything inside? We'll probably never know.

We then took another set of stairs down to what once must have been the shipping area. This is where we found the most relics of the former brewing company.

As drivers pulled their yellow Hudepohl beer trucks in and out of the facility, they would've passed these markings on the walls:

Departing the shipping/receiving area we made our way back to the stairs, cautiously exploring each floor as we ascended the building. Most of the machinery had previously been removed and the upper floors had been used as storage for different odds and ends. Since the center portion of the building had been demolished, doors that once gave way to offices and other rooms now gave way to a nasty fall:

After many uninteresting floors, we reached the top floor which featured an elevated ceiling and catwalks lining the entire room. With how big the space was, we began to speculate amongst our group that maybe this had been the bottling section of the facility. Climbing up to the catwalks gave us a birds eye view of the room:

While a faded sign on the catwalk walls read "tour 3:"

Kind of ironic considering this was our third time exploring the facility. Maybe the company had once offered tours of it's brewing facility to the public, similar to the tours formerly put on by Anhesuer-Busch, without the monorails of course.

The next stop on our ascent was the roof. We walked up the last flight of stairs covered in sweat thanks to the summer humidity, non air conditioned abandoned building, and bulky camera backpacks. Zach placed his hand on the door marked "roof," turned the knob and pushed only to find it wouldn't budge. It wasn't locked, just sealed by rust after all the years of neglect. We all tried giving it a good push before Zach said: "We didn't come all this way for nothing." Then, as if Chuck Norris himself were there, a good, hard kick was delivered to the rusted door revealing the Hudepohl rooftop.

Immediately adjacent to the rusty door, we found something really, really cool. A massive metal "H" and "L" were leaned up against the brick wall. These had once been neon lights that were once displayed on the other end of the building. We frantically looked around for the other letters. Leaning over the buildings edge, we found them...

The view from the brewery's western roof:

While peering down on the other sections of the brewery with our cameras, we saw a sign on a wall that read "Brewing Control." We decided to head back down to the other half of the facility in an effort to find this never before seen room. Maybe, the old brewing control panel was still there?

On our way to "Brewing Control" we came across a previously unseen employee locker room:

We realized we were on the wrong floor and would have to ascend another flight upwards.

This floor had no way over to the brewing control room either. We were thoroughly confused. Over the years the plant had many additions added to it, making the building hard to navigate. We had to once again venture the bottom floor to another staircase which finally led us to the brewing control center.

However, it would turn out to be a disappointment. No elaborate control system or button panels. Nothing really remained except some trash and a "levelometer."

Yet, there was still one more area in the brewery that was unexplored: the basement! We grabbed our flashlights and ventured downwards.

The basement proved to be uninteresting. It had thoroughly been cleaned out by scrap thieves and had water leaking everywhere. Despite the fact that the facility was thoroughly trashed and neglected, with hardly any hints of it's former past remaining, we did manage to find one hidden treasure in the depths of the basement:

We climbed back up to the main floor, packed up our gear and headed out. Hudepohl had been thoroughly explored and we all agreed it was time to give it a rest. This will be the last time I post any photographs of this place for awhile. Currently, the Hudepohl building awaits a future. Will it be turned into renovated condos? Demolished for a new Brent-Spence bridge alignment? The building sits idle as explorers come and go and the city staples "public nuisance notices" onto it's doors.

To read about the history of the building, the company and our past explorations here, check out all of the abandoned Hudepohl Factory Posts.

Check out all of the stories about exploring the abandoned Hudepohl Brewery here.

Updates | Oct. 7, 2017:
  • Calls for demolition have increased after some students fell down an elevator shaft in 2015 (they lived).
  • The building is slated for demolition later this Fall. The smokestack will not be preserved, despite efforts to save it. 
  • The gold Hudy can seen in these photos still sits on my shelves and Hudy Delight is some of the best, cheap beer in the city. 


  1. I loved seeing that old can. More memories!! It is such a shame to see the place as it is today. Did you happen to notice the top of the can? Those things were a bitch sometimes-if you got it wrong, the pull tab would break off and then you were screwed. Only other resort is a screwdriver. Luckily, I have a Hudy bottle opener I inherited years ago!

  2. You forgot to mention the smell of musty death in the basement!

    I noticed on one of my Many trips there the top floor with the catwalk has refrigerator style doors and an unusual amount of air ducts. I always thought it a giant freezer of some sort

  3. visited yesterday, what an interesting place. the view from the top is breathtaking though i didn't see the traces of hudepohl signs, just a lot of blueprints and a lot of things left behind from squatters, which was a little unsettling but overall one of the better abandoned buildings in the city.

  4. Hudepohl indeed gave tours to the public. I took several to include at least one while in the cub scouts. I am sure some old timers will be able to tell you that there were at least 2 different tours, the long tour and the 'short tour'. The 'short tour' would immediately take you to the 'beir stubbe' for your samples. I do not know where the tours used to end but in the early to mid eighties Hudepohl built the office building along Gest St. (the building where the wooly mamouths used to sit in front of)This housed an absolutely beautiful 'beir stubbe' and 'gift haus'. The current Cincinnati Belt Co. bldg was the last bldg to be built by Hudepohl, a so called new and improved state of the art brewery, which never saw more than a couple of years of brewing before the demise, in somes opinion caused by Jim Pohl.

  5. I took a tour of the brewery in August/September of 1981. An old-timer that had worked for Burger Brewing Co. led the tour (which consisted of me and a young employee, whom he was training to lead tours herself).

    He complained that while he worked for Burger, he had trouble finding Burger Ale, as they shipped most of it south, to Alabama and other states.

    It was a majestic building at the time, too bad that time has to pass.

  6. They did indeed have guided tours of the facility. I took an economics class at U.C. that focused on the beer, auto and oil refining sectors. One of our field trip tours was to the brewery.