Bavarian Brewing Co., Inc. (BBC)

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. As a result, Anton Ruh, the brewmaster, became  Vice President; 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 with the exception of Meyer, 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 in the previous section, several familiar faces can be observed in the photos below.

Worker Photos c. 1895 and 1897. The photo above on the left is a photo of the brewery workers in 1895 and the one on the right is possibly a couple years later. (From the Schott Collection at


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 whether these ponds disappeared naturally or by man-made alterations , 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.

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.


Before 1890, three previous buildings were constructed during the Meyer- Riedlin Years, including the:

A.  Original Brewery, modified as a Malt House.

B.  Malt Mill, added to the Malt House (1886).

C.  Brew House, with ice equipment (1888).

The location of the above mentioned buildings are shown in the lithograph below.  This image provides an expansive view of the brewery from a postcard of the brewery around 1900.  Additionally, buildings constructed after 1890, as described below, are identified on this image as well. The photo on the right below shows a ground level perspective for the brewery around 1900. The three men standing in the center (left to right) are William Riedlin, Ferdinand Ruh and Anton Ruh.  Within this photo, building A, B and C are see on the left, the entrance is seen in the background and the Bottling Department (E) is partly shown on the far left. Both the lithograph and the photo are taken from similar perspectives, looking to the south from Pike Street. To place the photo in a relative perspective, it was taken from what would have been the lower right corner of the lithograph.

c. 1900 Lithograph of the Brewery Complex & Photo of the Brewery Entrance in 1899. The lithograph  is from a postcard, but this image was also used on stationary during the first decade of the 1900s. (Please see Stationary.)  The photo above on the right is of workers standing in front the brewery's entrance. Please click the images for more information.  (Sources: the Schott Collection at and the Kenton Co. Library.)

Economic conditions were favorable after the brewery incorporated in 1889. Shortly thereafter, it allowed some important buildings to constructed, described in the following.  This helped the brewer's capacity increase and it necessitated the hiring of additional workers. As shown in the  photo taken above, there are more workers in the 1899 photo just above, than those photos further above taken five and 10 years earlier. This expansion positioned the brewery to expand in the coming years.


D. Mechanical Building. This masonry two story building was erected just south Brew House, with a framed shed possibly separating the two structures.  Evidently this building was added around 1890, just before the Bottling Department building was constructed, noted below. This building is referred to as the Mechanical Building, because it contained  certain ice making or refrigeration equipment that was previously in the Brew House. However, the precise name and other uses within this building are unknown.

​​E. 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. and east of the original brewery.

F.  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. These storage rooms were cool and wet, requiring the men that worked in theses areas to dress appropriately with high boots and warm clothes, as shown in the photo below. 

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


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 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 in August of 1900. He was only 22.


There were no cars or trucks before 1895. The Wright Brothers first flight of an airplane didn't occur until 1902. Those motorized vehicles that were developed over the following decade were often unreliable, expensive and and impractical. Therefore, before 1900 and for about a decade or more later, the way goods were delivered locally were by horse drawn wagons. It was not uncommon for the larger and growing breweries to have a stable of horses for them to pull wagons full of kegs or cases of beer. Bavarian Brewing Co. was one of these breweries. Sometime in the 1890s Bavarian built a new stable for the delivery horses that measured 46 by 188 feet. Not only did this improve their ability to deliver beer, but it also helped them increase their deliveries of ice.


By enlarging any of the photos below, it can be seen that there are numbers on the wagons. This probably helped in routing the deliveries and identifying the drivers.  Because some of the numbers on the wagons were slightly over one hundred, it may be possible that the brewery had over 100 wagons. Perhaps these numbers did not reflect the actual number of wagons at the brewery, or some wagons were not always needed. However, with many of these wagons requiring two horses, it would seem the brewery may have had over 100 horses.


In order to rest and breed horses, the brewery used the Riedlin Farm located on the Licking River near Decoursey, KY. Owners of other larger breweries also had such farms, and some even used their farms to grow hops and barley for their beers, or grasses and grains to feed their horses.  It's not know if the Riedlin Farm was used for all of these purposes. However, another use of his farm was to host annual company brewery picnics and social gatherings. Pictures of such events occurring around 1910 are shown in the following section, Later Riedlin Years.

Bavarian Brewery Horses and Wagons c. 1900.  The photo below on the left is believed to be in front of the stables constructed in the 1890s.  The other photo is in front of the former middle entrance to the brewery.  (Photos courtesy of the Kenton Co. Library; restored by LRS.)


The brewery was an integral part of the community.  In addition, as Germans immigrated to America, they often belonged to various German - American organizations and read local newspapers published in German. In addition, numerous schools and churches exclusively spoke German.  This was done to partly to preserve their heritage, but helped their transition from their homeland to a new county and also provided some level of protection. Not all Americans were receptive of the Germans from the mid to 1800s to the early 1900s. In particular, there was a group of "Know Nothings" in the 1850's who were particularly hostile to Germans occasionally causing some altercations, as mentioned  in The Beginnings under the section about the Forty-Eighters. Germans protected themselves from these discriminations, in part, through there organizations, but they also enjoyed socializing with other Germans providing them with community support. (Please see Community Involvement.)


The brewery produced beer and provided a livelihood for many residents nearby. However, it also provided a room for people to use in the area.  Often it allowed those connected to German - American Associations, to conduct meetings and socialize. There were many events held in the Rathskeller over the years and it helped make the brewery  an integral part of the community.  However, the brewery was became even more part of the community because of the active involvement of William Riedlin.  He was involved in several civic and social groups, besides being active in politics and as an investor in other local businesses. (Please see Community Involvement.)

Bavarian Rathskeller Photo in c. 1899. Please see Pre-Prohibition Signs for an enlargement of the sign under the flag and Smoking Accessories for a souvenir Rathskeller ashtray.  (Courtesy the Schott Collection at and Kenton Co. Library).



Holian, Timothy J., Over the Barrel, Volume I (1800-1919), Sudhaus Press, 2000.


Riedlin and Schott family items and information, including notations on photos by Lucia Riedlin.

Photos, all courtesy of Kenton Co. Library, except for those noted otherwise.

Trousdale, C.B. History of Bavarian Brewery, 1954. pgs 27.   


The background photo is of workers at the Bavarian Brewing Co., Inc. taken in 1898. 

An explanation of the photo is contained in the text above.    

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