BAVARIAN PLANT NO. 2  (Operating 1949-1954; Sold in 1956)
The former Heidelberg Brewery  (1934-1949)

Bavarian Brewing Co. acquired Heidelberg Brewing Co. in 1949 to obtain their brewery and operate it as their Plant No. 2. This acquisition, and the closure of the property in 1954 and the sale of the Property a couple years later, are discussed in the following.  In addition, below this discussion, a brief history of the Heidelberg Brewing Co. and their brands is examined, accompanied by numerous labels and advertising material they used. 

BAVARIAN PLANT NO. 2

After WWII, the Bavarian Brewing Co. was unable to brew enough beer to sell. Their solution to the problem was to acquire the Heidelberg Brewing Co. and use their brewery property located several blocks north of the Bavarian Brewery as a second plant.  It was located in Covington, KY, between 4th and 5th and Philadelphia and Bakewell Streets. In January of 1949, the Bavarian Directors approved the purchase of the Heidelberg for $400,000.  Terms included a down payment of $100,000 and a note of $300,000 bearing interest at 4.5 percent. This offer was accepted by Heidelberg's shareholders on February 15, 1949.  The purchase included all the land, buildings, plant, fixtures, machinery and equipment, which also secured the loan. However, 15 trucks, all bottles and cooperage were excluded from securing the loan.  (See Schott Family & Post WWII).  

 

Bavarian obtained  occupancy to the former Heidelberg Brewery in March of 1949. Their first order of business was to make it suitable for their own operations. To do so, they needed to make some changes to the brewery, modifying some equipment.  In addition, they needed to  repaint 15 trucks, barrels and other items they acquired, which  referenced Heidelberg or their former brands. Further, it was necessary to determine what to do with beer that was being aged in Heidelberg's oak storage tanks.  In order to avoid paying tax on the beer, Bavarian decided to dispose of this beer, as explained in the text below.

3-24-1949. Foam settles on the floor of the Bavarian Brewing Co. Plant (No. 2) as a workman removes his beer-soaked boots.  70,000 gallons of beer were poured down the drain. It was left over in the vats when Bavarian bought Heidelberg Brewing Co.  Bavarian emptied the vats to make room for brewing its own product. (The title of a newspaper article about this joked that the fish in the Licking and Ohio rivers would be getting drunk.)

After the plant was acquired, at least a month or two may have been required for some modifications to be made before the plant was suitable for use by Bavarian.  But  the plant provided additional production later that same year, and for their fiscal year ending September 30th, 1949. In the following fiscal year ending in 1950, Plant No. 2 helped Bavarian achieve their peak annual production of close to 350,000 barrels. It appears this plant was operating close to its capacity of about 125,000 barrels per year, with the remainder produced in the main Plant No. 1. This production held around the same for he following year.

According to a History of Bavarian Brewing Co. manuscript by C.B. Trousdale prepared in 1954,  the equipment in Plant No. 2 consisted of the following items.

Brew House:  A brew kettle with a capacity of 190 barrels, a mash tub with a capacity of 207 barrels, a cooker capable of holding 103 barrels, a lauter tub with a 207 barrel capacity, two malt bins with a capacity of 3,000 bushels each, one hop jack of holding up to 103 bushels, one malt hopper with a capacity of 18,000 pounds and a hopper able to hold up to 10,000 pounds.

Fermenting Cellar:  Six wooden barrels with a 220 barrel capacity for each, seventeen wooden barrels each with a capacity of 160 barrels and three steel bins with capacities of 150 barrels each. (4,490 gal. total.)

Storage Cellar:  Eleven steel bins that could hold 160 barrels each, three steel bins with a capacity of 295 barrels each and 21 wooden bins holding up to 275 barrels each. (8,420 gal. total.)

Government Cellar:  Three tanks with a capacity of 110 barrels each and three tanks that could each hold 76 barrels each. (558 gal. total.)

Other: Two water tanks (hot and cold).

Engine Room: All equipment was electrically driven; no steam engines. There were two water-tubed boilers with stokers and horse power ratings of 100 and 120.

Bottling Dept.: Apparently, the equipment in this department wasn't previously upgraded before Bavarian acquired Heidelberg, and Bavarian didn't replace it when they began Plant No. 2.

Staff: The employees at Bavarian Plant No. 2 consisted of some of those who had been with Heidelberg Brewing Co. In particular, Carl Moeller, who had previously been with Heidelberg in 1942, became the chief brewmaster in charge of both plants in 1951. The Brewmaster for Plant No. 2 was Walter Zanis, who had also briefly been with Heidelberg before it was purchased by Bavarian. Henry Wetzel, Assistanct Brewmaster, had been with Bavarian beginning in 1917 and had also served with the previous Brewmaster of Heidelberg, Joseph Ruh, at Bavarian before Prohibition.  

The success of Plant No. 2 for Bavarian was relatively short lived. Beginning in the 1951-52 fiscal year, sales started to decline and there was a slight decline in profit. Bavarian's management began to address this situation and considered alternatives at the end of the 1952-3 fiscal year. (See Turnaround Efforts.) In the following year, they decided to close Plant No. 2 on November 1, 1954. But in case sales turned around, they decided to keep it in stand-by condition for six months.  An increase in sales didn't occur, and Bavarian decided to sell the plant in 1955. Frederick A. Schmidt Inc. was engaged to sell the property and they advised Bavarian the plant could bring between $250,000 to $300,000.  However, it took over two years to sell the land and building, only bringing $110,000 in December, 1956.  The buyer was initially reported to be the C., Rice Packing Co., which planned to use some of the building's refrigeration for meat storage. Separately, Bavarian also sold the equipment in Plant No. 2. This increased their overall sales price for the property to $187,743.  Although Bavarian acquired the brewery for $400,000, they also installed equipment and had other costs making their total investment in Plant No. 2 $520,740. Consequently, the total loss was $332,997.  However, considering the depreciation of the assets on an accounting basis, the total book loss to Bavarian from the liquidation of Plant No. 2 was considerably less, amounting to $120,431. It's unclear if these amounts included the sale of the Sebastian Building that had been used as the Bottling Department, which was sold by Bavarian to Justin Schneider with Central Sales for $55,000 earlier in 1956, in February.   

 

In conclusion, Bavarian Plant No. 2 operated for over five years, from the Spring of 1949 until November of 1954. The plant was successful in substantially increasing the sales for Bavarian nearly 50% between 1949 and 1952. Evidently, it contributed significantly to the profitability of the firm in those years, until 1953. However, thereafter, Bavarian realized that the acquisition of Plant No. 2 had substantially increased their costs, and that their only way to be profitable with reduced sales, was to reduce those costs.  Hence, Bavarian needed to consolidate their operations by selling their Plant No. 2, the former Heidelberg brewery, and modernize their main Plant No. 1. (Please see Turnaround Efforts.) The former Heidelberg Brewery was demolished decades ago and the site is now occupied by three restaurants; McDonald's, Burger King and Gold Star Chili.

​​HISTORY OF HEIDELBERG BREWING CO.

After Prohibition, there was a pent up demand for beer, particularly in cities like Cincinnati that had a strong beer tradition due to its German heritage.  Even though nearly a dozen breweries reopened in the Cincinnati area were in former breweries, mostly with new ownerships and different brands, a few breweries  opened in new buildings. These included Schoenling and Delatron in Cincinnati, and Heidelberg Brewing Co. in Covington, KY, located just several blocks north of the Bavarian Brewery. 

1940s. Left, the Heidelberg Brewery at 500-520 4th St., Covington, KY

A Connection Between Heidelberg & Bavarian

Heidelberg Brewing Co. had a previous connection to Bavarian Brewing Co., because the brewmaster and a Director of Heidelberg, Joseph (Sep) Ruh, was the former brewmaster for Bavarian.  Before Prohibition, Sep had worked with his father, Anton (Tony), and had actually taken over as brewmaster for the brewery when his father passed away in 1917.  He may have briefly continued with this company when it was renamed the Riedlin Beverage Co. in 1918 in preparation to produce "near beer" and non-alcoholic beverages.  However, by about 1925 this entity closed.

 

Several years later, as Prohibition was being appealed in 1933, there were no experienced family heirs to open the Bavarian Brewery. Not unlike some other local breweries, the men in the Riedlin family that owned and operated Bavarian before Prohibition had passed away.  It's unclear if Sep had an interest to reopen the this brewery, but the men that began efforts to reestablish Bavarian were Leslie Deglow and Murray Voorhees (the husband of Riedlin's granddaughter). Apparently, they had having difficulty raising capital to reopen the brewery. Whether Sep considered rejoining Bavarian is unknown. In any event, possibly without any meaningful relations with these men reopening Bavarian, and/or their uncertainty in doing so, Sep decided to become an owner and brewmaster of a new brewery, the Heidelberg Brewing Co.

The Formation of Heidelberg Brewing Co.

Heidelberg Brewing Co. was chartered on February 21, 1933, and issued $400,000 in capital stock at $1.00 par on June 12th at an offering price of $1.25, as shown on the side.  Heidelberg was established by George H. Meyerrathen, President and Joesph Ruh, Vice President and brewmaster and several local influential business leaders.  The new brewery was constructed at the northwest corner of 4th and Bakewell streets, with an address of 500 – 520 4th Street.  The building was a "compact brewery" five stories in height with an original production capacity of 90,000 barrels annually, which was increased to 125,00 barrels.  Being new, it had certain advantages over older breweries as it was well designed and all electric and gas (no coal and steam).  However, it also had some drawbacks.  There was no rail spur into the brewery and rail access was not exceptionally close.  This created higher transportation costs for beer that it exported outside of the Cincinnati area.  Also, its production capabilities were relatively low making it more costly to operate, and it was not adjacent to excess land to easily allow for an expansion.  Further, its location was only a few blocks from the Ohio river, which was an area susceptible to flooding.   Only three years after the brewery opened, the Great Flood of 1937 occurred, which damaged Heidelberg's aging tanks and ruined much of its stored grains, preventing the brewer from operating for several months. 

June, 1933.  Stock offering notice of Heidelberg Brewing Co. Stock.  

Mid 1930s -1940s. Left to right: the Heidelberg Brewery at 500-520 4th St., Covington, KY; a Student Prince truck in front of More Confectionery and a Student Prince Truck in front of Union Terminal in Cincinnati, OH.