Bavarian Brewing Co., Inc. (BBC)
THE EARLY WILLIAM RIEDLIN YEARS (1889-1899)
The BAVARIAN BREWING CO., INCORPORATED IN 1889
Even though corporations existed in America since around 1800, it was very difficult to incorporate in Kentucky until the legislature made it easier to do so in 1889. In that year, a filing was made on March 7th for the incorporation of Bavarian Brewing Co., Inc., thereby succeeding the firm of Bavarian Brewery Co. and the partnership of Meyer-Riedlin. Its capital stock was $125,000, divided into 125 shares of $1,000 each. Both John Meyer and William Riedlin were assigned 11 shares each. It's unknown if Anton Ruh, also named in the filing, was assigned any stock, or the names of the other shareholders. However, the officers elected were Riedlin as President, John Meyer as Vice President and J.H. Kruse as Secretary / Treasurer. Shortly thereafter, Riedlin apparently acquired John Meyer's interest in the brewery, Anton Ruh, the brewmaster, became Vice President and J. H. Kruse retained his titles. (Please see Letterheads.) By incorporating, the stockholders in the brewery were personally exempt from all of the corporation's debts and liabilities. Equally if not more important, it enabled the brewery to more easily raise capital to expand.
Besides having the same officers as before, the newly incorporated brewery also retained most of the former Bavarian Brewery Co. workers, and hired new employees. In comparison to the photo just a few years earlier, several familiar faces can be observed in the photos below.
Worker Photos c. 1890 and 1895. The photo below on the left is believed to be around 1890 and consists of construction workers (Courtesy of Kenton Co. Library). On the right is a photo of the brewery workers in 1895. (From the Schott Collection a bcmuseum.org.) Both photos exclude the officers of the brewery, but they are shown in an 1899 worker photo below.
CONTINUED EXPANSION OF THE BREWERY
As shown by the Sanborn Insurance Map of 1894 below in comparison to the earlier Sanborn Map in 1886 (in the Meyer-Riedlin Years), the ice ponds no longer existed. They were probably very shallow to begin with and would have been easy to fill in, especially if their water source was from the flow of this creek, which could have been rather easily altered. Regardless of how these ponds disappeared, they were no longer needed due to the ice making equipment the brewery had acquired. Where a pond existed on the east side of the brewery, new wagon sheds had been added.
Previous buildings constructed during the Meyer- Riedlin Years, constructed before 1890 were:
A. Original Brewery, modified as a Malt House.
B. Malt Mill, added to the Malt House.
C. Brew House, with ice equipment.
After 1890, two significant buildings were added to the brewery. These structures, as described below, as well as those mentioned above, can be viewed in images further down on this page under the section: The Brewery by the Turn of the Twentieth Century.
D. Bottling Department. This frame structure was was added in 1892, the year that William Painter developed the crown cork (bottle cap). This made the bottling of beer much more practical, increased the demand for bottled beer and created a need for a device to open these bottles - the bottle opener. (See Openers and Crowns.) It is depicted on the above map just south of Pike St. just east of the original brewery.
E. Ice Manufacturing Plant. An Ice Manufacturing Plant was constructed just south of the Bottling Department in 1895. It contained a 31-ton refrigeration plant that produced 100 tons of ice per week. This building was constructed just east of the Brew House, and is not shown in outline form on the Sanborn Map above.
The Ice Plants were used to help cool and ferment the company's lager beer, but were built to provide more ice than the company needed. This excess capacity not only allowed Bavarian to sell ice to the local neighborhood residents, but supplied saloons with ice in exchange for selling Bavarian beverages. With ice making capabilities and better refrigeration, the brewery was able to utilize large wooden casks to store and age their lager beer, which were able to contain up to 300 barrels. It was cool and wet in these storage rooms, and the men needed to dress appropriately with high boots and warm clothes, as shown in the photo below.
Sanborn Insurance Map, 1894. The map above shows the Bavarian Brewery in the center, extending from Pike Street to W. Twelfth St. The letters on the map identify the brewery buildings, as mentioned below. Please note that some the buildings are not outlined on the above map, but only by letters.
Bavarian Brewery Photos c. 1890s. The photo above on the left is in a refrigerated storage area of the brewery. A couple of the men in this photo are in the 1899 photo of workers in front of the entrance to the brewery, below. The other picture with men on a dock may be at the Bottling Department. Seated second from the left is Walter Riedlin, William Riedlin, Jr., J. Henry Kruse, possibly Fred Hoffman, Tony Ruh and Dick Kleier. (Photos courtesy of the Schott Collection at bcmuseum.org.
THE ECONOMIC PANIC OF 1896
Just a few years after the Bavarian Brewing Co. was incorporated, there was a downturn in the global economy. It was called the Panic of 1893. However, it took a little while longer before it had a more significant affect in the United States. The economic recession that impacted the United States was known as the Panic of 1896. It lasted for at least a year or two. The result of this panic was a massive run on bank deposits and a cash crunch. Stock prices plunged, interest rates spiked and some companies went bankrupt. Gold reserves were also being depleted and it was also no longer possible to redeem silver certificates for gold. Unemployment rates skyrocketed over this period. This period affected most people in America, including those in the Greater Cincinnati area, the Bavarian Brewing Co. and its workers. Not surprisingly, it seems that during the 1896 recession, and for a few years afterwards until around 1900, there was a pause in the expansion of the brewery.
THE BREWERY BY THE TURN OF THE 20th CENTURY
Economic conditions had improved as the brewery entered the 20th Century. In the 15-years since the Meyer and Riedlin partnership was formed, some important changes took place. The Bavarian Brewery was incorporated into the Bavarian Brewing Co., Inc., some important buildings were added, staff was increased, and annual brewery production was higher. The brewery was poised to expand in the coming years. To view the brewery and its workers as of the end of the 19th Century, please inspect the images below. They show two perspectives of the brewery around 1900, one from ground level and another from an elevated angle, and both looking to the south from Pike Street. The photo on the left shows a street level view of Bavarian workers and the buildings at the entrance to the brewery in 1899. The buildings in the photo include the Original Brewery structure (A) on the far right, and behind it are the new Malt House (B) and the new Brew House (C). In the middle below under the sign for the brewery is an entrance to other brewery buildings, sheds and stables. On the left is the Bottling Department (D). The picture on the far right below is a postcard of the brewery around 1900, providing a more expansive view of the brewery, including the Ice Manufacturing Plant (E) and other sheds and stables for beer and ice delivery on the far left. Those buildings previously identified above are shown on the illustration below. Please enlarge for better viewing.
Photos Brewery Entrance in 1899 and the Brewery Complex c. 1900. The photo above on the left is an 1899 photo of workers standing in front of the entrance to the Bavarian Brewery. The lithograph above on the right is from a postcard, but the image was also used on stationary from the first decade of the 1900s. (Please see Stationary.) This illustration has been labeled to depict the buildings in chronological order as they were built, as described above. Please click the images above to enlarge them for better viewing and to obtain more information. (Photos courtesy of the Schott Collection at bcmuseum.org and the Kenton Co. Library.)
The Officers of Bavarian Brewing Co.
In 1899, the officers and directors of the Bavarian Brewing Co., who had been the same for the past decade, are shown seated in the side photo. From left to right, they include Anton (Tony) Ruh, Vice President, William Riedlin, Sr., President, and J. Henry Kruse, Secretary/ Treasurer. Standing are William Riedlin, Jr., who would become Vice President several years later, and Fred Hoffman who was the bookkeeper and very good friend of the Riedlin's. It appears this photo was taken on the same day as the 1899 photo of the Bavarian Workers above, as the attire of all the men is the same. Sadly, just a year later, Fred Hoffman (standing far right) drowned while contracting cramps during a visit to the Riedlin Farm and swimming in the Licking River with William, Jr. and friends on August of 1900. He was only 22.