Bavarian Brewing Co., Inc. (BBC)

Since 1830, the population of Cincinnati had always been one of the top 10 largest cities in the U.S., usually ranking between sixth and eighth. Even though Cincinnati was still experiencing growth, it no longer one of the 10 largest cities beginning after 1900.  Despite having somewhat less national influence, the beginning of the 20th Century was one of the most expansive for the Bavarian Brewing Co., Inc. The brewery embarked on constructing buildings and in acquiring adjacent land to increase its production capabilities, as described in the following. 


The industrial revolution was transforming America in the 1800s and early 1900s.  The combustion engine used for the car starting in the mid 1890s, and the assembly line production of the Model-T automobile in 1908, had a stimulating affect upon the U.S. economy.  This influenced most industries, with some companies with some taking advantage of these changes more than others.  The decade beginning in 1900 was one of the most expansive for the Bavarian Brewing Co., Inc. There were some important property acquisitions in the first decade of the 1900's, and several buildings were constructed nearly every year through 1913, as discussed in the proceeding. 

1902. William Riedlin Sr. is standing second from the right and the brew master, Anton Ruh is to his right. William Riedlin Jr. is seated third from the right.

Stein & Sign c. 1900. Only a monochrome picture of the sign was available. However, it had bright colors on reverse glass with glue chip lettering in a zinc frame. The "Germania Stein" is includes shields of various German states around the bottom. Click either image for more information and also see the Tap Room section for more steins. 


At the beginning of the 1900s, the Bavarian Brewing Co. was poised for significant growth.  A picture of workers taken on December 19, 1902, is below. The sign in the center of the photo was made by the Cincinnati Sandblast Co. and also used in the  photos of the previous and following sections of the Bavarian Rathskeller.  "The Stein" as it was sometimes referred to, was made by Mettlach in Germany and was also known as the "Germania Stein." The barrel with the star indicates Bavarian Beer was made according to the German Purity Law, known as Reinheitsgebot. The noted items are enlarged and shown on the right.


At the turn of the 20th Century the brewery evidently realized  that in order to expand, they needed to acquire adjoining properties. They were essentially landlocked in the middle of a block. To provide space for expansion, a few acquisitions occurred in the first decade of the 1900s. Even though discussions probably began in previous years, Bavarian acquired the "Tan Yard" property between 12th and Pike streets in 1904, which had operated as the L.H. Deglow Tannery.  They acquired part of it from the Louis and Julius Deglow family, and in another transaction that same year, from George Lubrecht. Additional acquisitions occurred in 1906 and 1908 with purchases from Blanch and Carl Wiel and Monika and Anton Ruh, respectively.  This essentially allowed the brewery to obtain most of the property  between its original building and Willow Run Creek, and from Pike Street to W. 12th Street, as depicted on the 1894 Sanborn Insurance Map shown on the right. 


The Bavarian Brewing Co. began a planned and continuous building program between 1902 and 1913.  They constructed  about 10 buildings in a decade, razing some older buildings that were obsolete and adding some new buildings, which were much more functional. These buildings are listed in chronological order on the side. A site map c. 1909 and lithograph c. 1912 both correspond to the chronological numbers on the side and below.  Each building is briefly discussed and most are accompanied by photographs obtained from the Kenton County Library and the Schott Collection at the Those buildings that still remain today have been repurposed for other uses.  Nevertheless, the original brewery site still remains mostly intact, along with such former brewery buildings as the Brew House, Mill House, Bottling Department and Executive Offices.  This provides one of the more complete and significant vestiges of a former Pre-Prohibition brewery in the region. In addition, nearby structures associated with the brewery, such as Covington Turners and the Riedlin Residence, also remain.

It is believed that nearly all of the brewery structures built in the early 1900's are covered herein, but it's possible a couple may have been omitted. If anyone has any information about these omissions, or if we need to modify or add any descriptions, please contact us

Building Summary  (1902-13)

1.  Water Cooler & Ice Plant (1902)


2. Stables (1903)

3. Stock House (1903-5)

4.  Tall Stack (1906)

5.  Boiler House (1906)

6.  Engine Room (1907)

7.  Bottling Department (1908)

8.  Executive Office Building (1910)


9.  Brew & Mill Houses  (1912)


10. Stock House Addition (1913)

11. Ice Plant (Early 1900s)


The Bavarian Brewery began at 369 Pike Street. As it grew, the brewery facilities were rebuilt to the south, on the the north side of 12th Street, and also expanded both to the west and the east.  This growth occurred during a period of substantial industrial evolution. In the more recent lithograph below (dated c. 1912), the building numbers correspond to those presented in the side bar above and with the descriptions below. Those buildings that are shown in red were removed and those shown in blue remain, albeit used for non-brewery uses. 

1909 Sanborn Map.  This site plan above depicts the Bavarian Brewery around 1909. Please note, the orientation of this site plan is reversed from the lithographs. The numbers on this map correspond to the sidebar above, the descriptions below and those numbers shown on lithograph on the left above. However, this plan does not reflect the outlines of some of the buildings constructed around 1909 or afterwards. As a result, some of the numbers are not on the specific outlines of the buildings they represent; however, they do reflect where those buildings were located. 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Lithographs.  The upper left image is c. 1912. It contains numbers that correspond to the buildings described above and below. The image below it is c. 1900 and the letters on it correspond to buildings described in the previous section, Early Riedlin YearsThe lithographs above were prepared by the Cincinnati Lithograph Co. and were used on Bavarian Brewing Co. letterheads obtained from the Schott Collection at the (See Stationary.)

In comparing the two lithographs above, it may seem at first that the images may be the same. However, a closer examination reveals that nearly all the buildings from the c. 1900 illustration were demolished and replaced including the Original Brewery Plant (A) and the Bottling Plant (E).  All of the other buildings were simply replaced, but were used for other purposes and not removed for decades later.  Even though both illustrations are believed to be relatively accurate, it appears some artistic liberty may have been taken. For example, in the c. 1912 lithograph, the Mechanical Building D in the earlier lithograph is not shown, even though it still remained, the earlier Ice Plant F is not properly displayed and the Engine & Boiler Houses (5 & 6) have too many stories and are not accurate.  Additionally, a building with copulas in the c. 1900 image behind the Malt House and Malt Mill buildings (A & B) may not have existed. The river shown in both background images is actually on the opposite side of the buildings, and a train on the far right in the c. 1912 lithograph would probably not have been visible from the view shown.   For more details, please click on any of the images.


Each of the buildings identified in the c. 1912 lithograph and in the Sanborn Map above are briefly described below.

1. Water Cooler & Ice Plant (1902)

The water cooler was a large structure built around 1902. It was situated just south of the the Brew House. It could produce up to 200 tons of ice daily and was powered by  90hp and 60hp engines. A photo of the tower is shown on the far left of the photo on the side. It was taken in 1911 while the Brew and Mill Houses, on the right, were being built. It is also shown in the site plan below, directly to the left of the Stock House.

2.  Stables (1903)

Automated vehicles were in their infancy at the turn of the 20th Century, and deliveries of beer and ice were still mostly dependent upon horse drawn wagons through most of the 1910's. The uses of horse deliveries didn't suddenly disappear, but gradually declined. To accommodate the need for more delivery horses as the brewery was expanding, a new stable was built measuring 46 x 188 feet. It was believed to be made primarily of wood, but no photos or additional information of this structure were obtained. It is believed to have been located as shown on the diagram below.

3. The Stock House (1903+)  

The date on this building in photographs indicates 1903, but it may have actually opened a year or two later. This structure measured approximately 175 x 124 feet at a cost of $150,000. It was made of fire proof construction consisting of steel, masonry and brick, and was four floors in height. The main floor contained the Wash and Racking rooms, as well as the Pitch Kettle and some Storage rooms. The grain storage was contained on the upper floors. The Stock House had walls that were 17 to 25 inches thick with 8 inch cork insulation.  A diagram is shown on the right. The photos were taken from the top of the map or from the north, facing south. This building was demolished in 2017.

4. The Main (Tall) Stack (1906)

The brewery had a Boiler House that was coal fired and that provided steam heat. As a result of this process, In order to dispense fine particles that would become airborne and that would not have a deleterious impact upon the immediate neighborhood, a tall reinforced concrete stack was built. This Tall or Main Stack measured 9 feet in diameter and 153 feet in height. It was constructed by the Weber Steel and Concrete Stack Co. under the supervision of the brewery plant engineer at that time, Whitey Brackman.   The location of the Main / Tall Stack is depicted on the diagram shown for the Stock House above, and is identified on the photo on the side.

5. The Boiler House (1906) 

The brewery had an earlier Boiler House with twin stacks in the center of the photo below on the left (D), which was replaced by a new Boiler House shown on the right (F).   Standing next to this new structure on the right are William Riedlin Sr. and Jr., along with a worker.  This photo is looking east down what would become Lehmar Avenue. This new structure had coal fired steam boilers equipped with automatic stokers and underground cinder clearing devices that provided steam heat. The photo on the right is on the opposite side of the twin stacks facing west down Lehmar Avenue. The Boiler House is left center in the background. The Engine Room (shown below) would be built next to the Boiler House a year later. On the right of this photo is an entry to an office in the back of the first Ice Plant built in 1895.  Please click the photo on the right below for descriptions and dates of various brewery buildings.

6. The Engine Room (1907)

After the Boiler House was constructed as noted above, an Engine Room was built next to it. It's shown under construction in the photo on the side in 1906, but was completed in 1907. Beside it is a photo of this structure years later, during Prohibition. The completion date of the building is noted above the entrance, with A D (After Death) on either side of the date. In proximity to other buildings, the Engine Room was located on the west side of the brewery and became located on the south side of Lehmer Street. This street, also referred to as Riedlin Avenue, actually divided the brewery property behind Pike and 12th Street to the north and south. The tall stack mentioned above and built only a year earlier is visible behind the engine room.  

7.  The Bottling Department (1908)

As the brewery expanded, it needed to a new structure to replace the framed Bavarian Bottling Department. On its same site, a new two story brick and masonry building was constructed and completed in 1908. It measured 45 feet x 150 feet. Due to the sloping elevation of the land, the front and north side of the building facing Pike Street was one-story in height with elevated loading docks. Whereas, the south side of the building was two stories with direct access to the lower level. The completion date on the building was placed above one of the loading docks and visible in the older photo above. Besides this photo, both the outside and inside of this building was depicted on postcards, and these are shown below. The address of this structure was 367 Pike St.  (This building still remains. It was used for a dairy in the 1950s and used for Glier's Goetta since the mid 1960s.)

8. The Bavarian Executive Offices  (1910)

On the site of the original brewery established in 1866 of of Pike Street, and then used as a Malt House in the 1880s and mostly for storage afterwards, new corporate offices were constructed.  This was a two-story brick  building located at the entrance of the brewery complex.  Across from it on the other side of the entrance was the Bottling Department, discussed above. A photo of an office in this building, considered to possibly be Wm. Riedlin's, is also shown below. The address of this building was 369 Pike Street. 

9. The Brew & Mill Houses  (1911)

The Brew and Mill Houses were constructed off of 12th Street. It replaced the old Brew House that is shown in the  Office Building photo above; it's the tallest building in the background. It was built of fire proof construction comprised of brick, stone and steel. The structure had holes in its five floors for large kettles, hop jacks, rice and mash tubs with ventilation to large open lovers in the tower. There were interior stairs and an electric elevator that lead to all levels. The interior had white glazed tile wainscoting.  The five story Mill House was divided into fireproof ventilated bins for the storage of hops, grits, malt and rice. These structures adjoined the Stock House mentioned above, and had doors that provided access between these structures. These buildings also used a former lager cellar, which had been constructed decades earlier for beer fermentation, as a tunnel that connected to the Engine Room and the power plant for the brewery. There were also other underground cellars and passage ways that connected a couple other buildings, such as the Bottling Department and the Stock House, as shown on the Site Plan above.  To provide more natural light to the top floors, a cupola was affixed atop the Brew House and there was a skylight roof on the Mill House. The photos directly below show the Brew House on the left and Stock House on the right, a couple decades after they were built. The photo below them on the left left shows the Mill House portion under construction in 1911. 

Photographs. Above, the Brew House is on the left and the Mill House is on the right. They were both taken around 1932.  The photos to the side on the left was taken in 1911 while these facilities were under constructions.  Courtesy of the Kenton Co. Library.

​Souvenir Tip Tray, 1912. The tray on the left was provided at the Dedication of the Brew House.

10. Stock House Addition  (1913)

The last major structure built for the Bavarian Brewing Co. before Prohibition was the expansion of the Stock House built in 1903+.  It was constructed similar to the Stock House with brick and steel construction and connected to the east side of the original Stock House. Primary access to the expanded Stock House was from Lehmer Street (a/k/a Riedlin Ave.), which bisected the brewery complex. This addition formed a long and contiguous set of buildings connected to the Brew and Mill Houses. This addition is shown on the 1932 photo on the right. Source: Kenton Co. Library.

11. Ice Plant  (Early 1900s)

This one-story structure was situated just east of the  ice plant that was built in 1895 and north of the Stock House.  Its exact date of construction is presently unknown, but it appears the outline for this building was on a Sanborn Map dated 1909.  So, this structure was built perhaps a few years before then.  This building was sold by Bavarian around 1930 and used for an ice cream factory.  In the mid 1950s it was repurchased by Bavarian and used as a warehouse and for bottling.  It was demolished around 2010. This structure is center right in the 1932 photo on the right. Source: Kenton Co. Library.


It can be surmised from the extensive building that occurred over just a decade that these structures that became part of the Bavarian Brewery complex were not randomly built. Instead, there was a deliberate plan and effort to build certain structures in particular sequence.  For example, the tall stack was built just before the Boiler House and Engine Room. The Brew House and Mill House were only built after the brewery had the boiler, engines and refrigeration capabilities it needed. Then the last structure, an addition to the Stock House, was only after other buildings were completed that allowed the production capacity to be substantially increased. The Stock House Addition may have also been built due to the need to store adequate grain supplies, particularly if it was expected that there would be an event (e.g. WWI) that would reduce the availability of ingredients needed to brew beer.


In 1910, the officers of Bavarian Brewing Co. established the Riedlin Realty Co. to acquire, sell and hold real estate. It was incorporated by Wm. Riedlin Sr. and Jr., Walter Riedlin, Anton Ruh and Clarence Cobb. (The later was the husband of Riedlin Sr.'s daughter Mayme (or Maime), who married in 1909). These holdings included the ice plant, the brewery properties, possibly numerous saloons and some other real estate.  The business address of Riedlin Realty Co. was in the same office building for Bavarian Brewing Co. located at 369 Pike Street. A logo for this realty firm is shown on the right.  (See Stationary.)


By the end of 1913 the Bavarian Brewing Co. site comprised some 6 ½ aces between Pike and 12th streets. The brewery  was producing some 216,000 barrels of beer, ale and porter annually. It had a cellar capacity of 25,00 barrels, or 6 million gallons, 5-tons of refrigeration and the bottling department could process 32,400 bottles per day. The brewery employed about 200 people and was the largest employer in Covington, KY.  (For a list of employees that worked at Bavarian both before and after Prohibition, please see A Tribute.)  Besides the production of alcoholic beverages, the brewery had an ice house that produced 200,000 pounds daily for both brewery and public use. By 1915, according to Robert J. Wimberg in his publication Cincinnati Breweries, Bavarian had become the largest brewery in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, apparently surpassing thei nearby competitor in Newport, KY, Wiedemann Brewing Co.

Beside making a lager beer, Bavarian Brewing Co. had also been making a Porter, Ale and Tonic, presumably all under the Bavarian name. However, it seems that Bavarian may have concentrated on making lager beer and expanded their brands to include Bavarian (Standard) Beer and Riedlin's Select Beer. They may have also made a Riedlin's Blue Ribbon Beer. It appears shortly before Prohibition, they also offered a Hop Malt, which had somewhat less alcoholic content that its other beers.  Some of the labels of these can be viewed below.


The Bavarian Brewery sponsored various outings and get together for their workers. Below are photos of the  traditional summer picnic that was held at Riedlin's Farm in 1910 and 1911. The writing in the lower left photo is from the youngest daughter of William and Emma Riedlin, Lucia. It identifies her brothers, her parents and herself. It may have been the last picnic her mother attended, as she passed away in October, 1912, and may have suffered an illness beforehand. 


Ice making dramatically affected brewing in the making and shipping of beer in the late 1800's. Bavarian expanded their Ice Plant and it had excess capacity to sell to residents nearby and to provide it free to saloons that would sell (often exclusively) their beer. But the use of ice would be eliminated as electric refrigerators for the home became accessible in the mid 1920's. The Riedlin Family sold the Ice Plant that had been used by the Bavarian Brewing Co. in 1925.  Another major change involved transportation. Motor driven vehicles would replace horses used for beer delivery and encouraged urban dwellers to move to the suburbs. Consequently, some stables were converted to garages. (The first trucks Bavarian used for delivery are shown in the photos below.) Another transportation change is that horse driven trolleys became electric trolleys.  The area above the windows inside trolley cars provided another place for advertising posters. The dawn of the airplane was also at hand, which when combined with autos, would further change transportation, gradually lessening the importance of passenger trains. Radio didn't develop until the 1920's, which would provide another media for advertising and program sponsorship, followed by television in the late 1940s. These changes wouldn't occur overnight, but they would greatly impact brewers in the years ahead, particularly after Prohibition was repealed.

c. 1915. The top row has similar Bavarian Brewing Co. delivery vehicles; each appears to be 1.5 ton Wilcox Trux.  A couple differences between the two trucks are the type of lettering used on the truck bed and the width of the back tires. The men on the upper left are unidentified. Those men in the photo on the right are Fred Kleier (left) and George Kleier (right).  The 1917 Auditor's report indicated these trucks were sold and replaced with a couple Packard trucks.  One of those is probably the truck in the photo on the right taken in 1918 with George Kleier. (See Corporate Material.) Other Kleier family members also worked for the brewery. (See A Tribute.)


The zenith for the Riedlin family was probably around 1914, after all the major buildings were completed and when the production of the brewery was reaching its optimum. After William's wife Emma passed away in 1912, William had two sons to continue his legacy and provide a good life for themselves and their families. His son William, Jr., became Vice President of the brewery around 1906, and was the heir apparent to succeed him. William Sr.'s youngest son, Walter, had also become involved in the brewery, becoming the supervisor of the Bottling Department. Both son's were had an important roles in the operation of the brewery. William's daughters had also married and both had children within a few years afterwards.

Master Brewers at Stevie's, 1914.  This picture includes both the Riedlin and Schott families. Most of the ladies husbands may be in the right background. The husband of Riedlin's daughter Maime, Clarence Cobb, may be to her right in the photo. 

A picture above taken during the summer of 1914 is the only one obtained thus far that shows members of both the Riedlin and Schott families together. A couple of months after the photo was taken William C. Schott and Lucia Riedlin were married, in September, 1914. They traveled to Havana, Cuba, for their honeymoon. A year later, Walter (who was not in this photo) passed away while visiting Asheville, NC, leaving a wife (Rose), a daughter (Rosemary) and a young son. Then in 1918, with WW I limiting the ingredients for beer production and  the brewery and the prospects for Prohibition more eminent, the Bavarian Brewing Co. changed its name to the William Riedlin Beverage Co. The Riedlin's were planning to work through Prohibition.  However, a few months before Prohibition went into full affect, William Riedlin died on February, 20, 1919, while trying to recover from asthma in Asheville, NC.  This was the same place where his son Walter had died four years earlier.  On March 6, 1919, William, Jr. died, just a couple weeks after his father, likely due to the Spanish flu.  William, Jr. was survived by his wife who he had wed just several months earlier, but had no children.  He was also a widower, as his first wife had died several years earlier in her mid twenties.


The expectations for William Sr. to have his sons operate the brewery and his other business interests after he passed on were unable to come to fruition. This is because of the early deaths of his sons, around the same time as his death, just before Prohibition began.  However, the  business that William Riedlin turned into a success was able to continue because of his surviving daughters, their husbands (his son-in-laws), and his granddaughter. Directly after Prohibition, with financial assistance from his granddaughter, her husband would reopen the brewery during the Great Depression.  Even though this only lasted for a couple of years and was unsuccessful, the brewery remained within Riedlin relations.  His youngest daughter's husband, William (Will) C. Schott, Will's brothers, and eventually Riedlin's grandsons, all became officers and owners of the brewery. This continued William Riedlin's legacy for nearly a half-century after his death.

Read on, to;

Ancillary Section 4A The Brewery Tunnels

Ancillary Section