Sunday, June 16, 2019

End of the Hudepohl Brewery

An early QC/D subject, and piece of Cincinnati history, comes down.

The other night, a few of us met up for a drink. Where we ended up had a number of local craft beers on tap, as well as, offerings from other cities with similar sentiments and trends. Everyone settled on one of those, except me, because conglomerate produced Miller High Life isn’t terrible when it strikes the mood (and is on special). But that was an exception, a break from the usual rotation of local IPA’s that I enjoy. It’s amazing how many options there are now, how beers (and those who brew them) have become integral parts of civic/geographic identities from the largest of cities to the most far-flung of communities. Around a decade ago, the local beer scene in Cincinnati was really starting to gain steam after years of mixed market reaction. The industry was ramping up from niche experience to ubiquitous attraction. Even those who deride craft beer as some sort of hipster sorcery can’t deny that the people (and their money) have spoken. Local beer is popular.

Incredibly popular.

Everywhere you go.

A subject once seemingly only discussed amongst local history enthusiasts, Cincinnati’s rich brewing past is now a burgeoning tourism attraction. It’s an interesting time to live (and drink) in. When this current era was kicking off, though, the options were slim (and brewery tours were limited to abandoned ones in Queensgate). Moerlein was making a comeback and part of their portfolio included a return of the Hudepohl brand—a classic name fondly remembered by baby boomers and their predecessors, passed on to future generations.

Hudy Delight and 14K are a bit more simple than many of their craft contemporaries. My unrefined palette views them as the local equivalents of PBR and Bud Heavy respectively. I enjoy both, but that recent night when some friends and I were meeting for a beer—no one thought to spring for or even inquire about Hudy. Which was somewhat ironic, considering we planned on swinging by the historic Hudepohl Brewery later that night. We eventually found ourselves standing outside the fence snapping photographs, the demolition paused for the day.

You may have seen this building on QC/D over the years. I photographed it several times. In this website’s 10+ year history, the story of the abandoned Hudepohl Brewery was a frequent subject of the early period. For decades, the future of the building languished in rumors of condo renovations, needing to be demolished for future highway ramps, and as a crumbling hazard destined for destruction any day. It’s now finally coming down. A few efforts to save the iconic smoke stack fell flat.

The crew I used to explore with had some interesting excursions at this place over the years. I never sampled a can of Hudy that came from within those walls (the facility closed in 1987), but the next time I swig down a schooner of Delight (25oz of local ale in a giant glass for just $4.00) beneath the neon Hudy lights at the Bay Horse Cafe, I’ll fondly think of those days and that building—wondering if this era of local beer proliferation is here to stay or destined to become a footnote remembered by posts and websites such as this one.

Coming to QC/D in 2054: “The Remains of Rhinegeist”
Hopefully not, I wish all local brewers success.

  • The smokestack was demolished on the morning of June 16, 2019. The rest of the facility will be razed in the coming weeks. No defined plans for the land have been announced at this point.
  • All the older Hudepohl Brewery stories can be found here.

Some favorite photographs from and of the brewery made back in the day:

- Sun setting on the abandoned brewery and smokestack in 2009.

- Fireworks from the rooftop.

- Cincinnati skyline framed by one of the brewery's windows.

- The building had a great view of Downtown.

- The middle (and oldest section) of the brewery had been demolished well before they started on the rest of structure. It made for some interesting, and precarious, views.

- Former light up letters that used to don the roof. Heard a rumor these may have been saved.

- Brewing control.

- Employee lockers.

- Decayed lettering.

- Smokestack at night.

- Employee time clock.

- In the winter sun.

- The first visit.

You can read up on all the original stories here.


  1. As a Westsider, I hate to see the Hudepohl building and the iconic smokestack go. I hope whatever goes into that spot gives a nod to recreating the architecture, but I suspect they won't. It'll probably be another modern, boxy, balconies-jutting-out-at-all-angles-to-maximize-rent stack of lofts. Perhaps the Hudepohl building truly couldn't be saved, but if it could have, then whoever comes next deserves to spend exorbitant amounts of money for the privilege of having their view of the downtown skyline ruined by that idiotic ransom-letter-font spelling of "Cincinnati" on the Convention Center.

    1. I have a feeling that whatever comes next will be some simple industrial warehouse or something.

      I think the toughest thing about the building being saved was its location. Even if you could save it, it was kind of out in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps a city with vision could view that as an opportunity and develop the building and area into something useful, but well... this is a city that got excited about a Domino's Pizza opening downtown.

      RIP Hudy building.

  2. That area shouldn't be the middle of nowhere.  It's a stone's throw from downtown.  Sure, access is currently a bit wonky, but that could be improved, and whatever they are cooking to redo under/around the Brent Spence may already be looking at that. 

    Elevar renovated an old building near there.  Channel 19 saved the Stowe School.  The building with the stripes that was used for low-risk jail overflow must have been at least partially rehabbed at that time.  And there are still functional office buildings in Queensgate.  Pretty much the only other major issues around that area are whether there are EPA problems with the old junkyard, the NIMBY aspect of the Barron Shelterhouse on Gest, and whether there is a lot of noise at night from UPS trucks...unless there are treacherously haunted artifacts at the museum annex.

    I don't know for sure, but I think there may be some pushing to clean up 8th and State/LPH, with the intention of creating an improved corridor between the Incline District/EPH and Downtown. 

    I never quite understood why Queensgate flopped so hard.  Downtown couldn't expand too far east because of Mt. Adams or too far south because of the river, so why didn't it grow west?  If it was because of train traffic, that isn't the issue it used to be. 

    I just can't see wasting the old Hudepohl lot for a warehouse.  I still think it's going to be apartments or condos, but I could see an office or mixed-use/lifestyle complex. Probably not a hotel, since the hotel that's already in Queensgate seems to have struggled.

    1. I think you make some great points. I think the issue with Queensgate has been that it's been focused on for decades as an "industrial" area. Go too deep and no one seems to want to live or build livable space amongst all that industry. Given that the PORT now owns the Hudepohl site, I would wager that more industrial space is what's coming (not a knock on the port, that just seems to be their specialty).