8C. HEIDELBERG BREWERY (1934-1949)
Becoming Bavarian Plant No. 2 (1949-1954; Sold in 1956)
Albeit relatviely brief, Heidelberg Brewery had a plethora of brands and an interesting background before it was acquired by Bavarian Brewing Co., as discussed in the following.
HISTORY OF HEIDELBERG BREWING CO.
After Prohibition, there was a pent-up demand for beer across the nation, and especially in cities like Cincinnati, with a strong beer tradition stemming from its German heritage. Nearly a dozen former breweries reopened in the Cincinnati area - mostly in former breweries with new ownerships and different brands. However, a few breweries opened in new buildings, including; Schoenling and Delatron in Cincinnati, and Heidelberg Brewing Co. in Covington, KY. The new brewery in Kentucky was located just several blocks south 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 son of the former brewmaster for Bavarian. Before Prohibition, Sep had worked with his father, Anton (Tony). He continued to be involved with this company when it was renamed the Riedlin Beverage Co. in 1918, in preparation to produce "near beer" and non-alcoholic beverages. In 1922 he became one of three Directors of the Riedlin Co. When this firm dissolved in 1925, the year Sep's father Tony passed away, the Sep's family acquired the former ice house property along with another family member (Ferdinand) and M. L. Galvin. (See period 5. The Riedlin Co.'s.)
Several years later, as Prohibition was being appealed in 1933, there were no experienced family heirs available to reopen the Bavarian Brewery. Not unlike other local breweries, the men in the Riedlin family who had owned and operated Bavarian before Prohibition had passed away. It's unclear whether Sep had a personal interest in reopening this brewery, but the men who began efforts to reestablish Bavarian were Leslie Deglow and Murray Voorhees (the husband of Riedlin's granddaughter). See period 6. The Reopening of the Brewery. Apparently, they had been having difficulty raising the capital necessary to reopen the brewery; whether Sep considered rejoining Bavarian with them is unknown. In any event - and possibly without any meaningful relations to the men who reopened Bavarian - 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 by the accompanying exhibit. Heidelberg was established by George H. Meyerrathen, President and Joesph Ruh, Vice President and brewmaster, along with 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. Their building was a "compact brewery - five stories in height, with an original production capacity of 90,000 barrels annually (later increased to 125,00 barrels). Being new, it had certain advantages over older breweries, including a more modern and streamlined design and electric and gas power instead of coal and steam.
However, the new Heidelberg Brewery also had some drawbacks. There was no rail spur into the brewery and rail access was not exceptionally close, creating higher transportation costs for beer exported outside of the Cincinnati area. Also, its size was relatively small and production capabilities were relatively low for the time, making it more costly to operate. The site was also landlocked with no adjacent excess land that could be used for expansion. Further, its location was only a few blocks from the Ohio River, which was susceptible to overflowing and flooding the nearby area. In fact, only a few years after the brewery opened, the Great Flood of 1937 damaged Heidelberg's aging tanks and ruined much of its stored grains, preventing the brewery from operating for several months. Please see the accompanying photo that shows the brewery during this flood.
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.