Bavarian Brewing Co.
The SCHOTT BROTHERS & WORLD WAR II
(1938 - 1945)
ACQUIRING THE BREWERY OUT OF BANKRUPTCY
The Bavarian Brewing Co. went into bankruptcy and was ordered to be sold in December of 1937. To salvage the brewery, William C. Schott, the husband of William Riedlin's daughter Lucia, acquired the brewery property along with three of his brothers, Chris, George and Lou. They paid $55,000 for the brewery property and all its assets plus the assumption of $76,000 in liabilities. Even though this may have seemed like a bargain, the brewery had difficulties breaking even when it was operating in receivership and had operated at a deficit previously. In particular, the brewery required a great deal of improvements and working capital in an attempt to make it profitable. It was necessary to construct a new Bottling Department, increase production capacity, hire more workers, advertise, etc. The Articles of Incorporation and By Laws for the Bavarian Brewing Co. were registered in Kentucky and approved in January of 1938. (Please see Corporate Material.) It must have been very rewarding for Lucia to have her husband retain the brewery within her family, but she must have realized it could be very challenging.
The Schott Brothers had been involved in successful businesses before acquiring and reestablishing the Bavarian Brewing Co. They included a business their father had started, the J.M. Schott & Sons Cooperage, the Cincinnati Galvanizing Co, Schott Realty and a radio station, WFBE, which became WCPO after the brothers sold it. The brothers had decades of experience working together in different types of businesses. (Please see The Schott Family.) Their experience in the cooperage business had given them some experience in the brewing business, and collectively the brothers had sufficient capital to invest in the brewery, which was previously lacking upon its reopening.
PRE-WORLD WAR II (1938 - 1941)
Management & Building Improvements
Initially, Will's eldest brother Chris Schott, became President in 1938, Will became Vice President, George became Treasurer and Lou became Secretary. However, within a year, possibly due to other business obligations and being older than his other brothers, Chris resigned. In 1939, George Schott became President, Will retained his position as V.P. and Lou assumed the positions of both Secretary and Treasurer.
It is interesting to note that even though Will Schott was married to Lucia Riedlin, the daughter of the brewery's founder, he was always the Vice President of the Brewery from 1938 until 1959 and longer than any of his brothers, he was never President. Each of his brothers and his son became President, but apparently he didn't have the desire to hold that position. It may have been partly because, being the youngest in his family, he thought it was appropriate for his older brothers to hold the title of President. Also, he was General Manager and essentially in charge of another business his family owned, the Cincinnati Galvanizing Co., and may not have wanted or needed to be technically in charge of the brewery. However, he was the only one in his family who not only completed college, but had also completed four years of medical school, all at the University of Cincinnati.
During the first couple of years the Schott Brothers acquired the brewery, there were significant capital costs required for bottling operations and to make the operations more productive and efficient. There was also substantial cash infusion necessary to build a larger and more competent staff, begin effective advertising and establish better delivery capabilities, both with their own trucks and with distributors, etc. The Schott Brothers realized that the acquisition cost for the brewery, out of foreclosure, was just the beginning of costs and expenses they would need to make for it to be profitable.
The Main Brewery Complex
When the Schott Brothers acquired the Bavarian Brewery, they repainted the buildings. Shown in the photos are different views of main brewery complex in the 1940s. Left to right are; 1) The Stock House, Wash and Racking Rooms as well as the Brew House, 2) the Brew House and Mill House, with the stone structure of a former ice house in front, and 3) the Mill House from 12th street, also showing a portion of the former ice house in front. Please compare these photos with those just a decade earlier contained in the Great Depression & Reopening. Note: The Stock House, beginning with the cars to the left in photo one, no long remains. But the Brew and Mill Houses are now part of the Kenton Co. Government Center.
It appears that important improvements were made in the first few months of the new ownership. Bottled beer was available in three sizes and advertisements began to appear in newspapers. The brands the Schott Brothers first used were simply Bavarian Beer for the unpasteurized beer, and Bavarian Master Brand Beer for their pasteurized bottled beer. During the spring they also offered Bavarian Bock Beer. Additionally, there was a effort to briefly market Riedlin Select Beer by the Voorhees management (1935-1937), which may have only briefly continued by the Schott Brothers, possibly being eliminated in 1938. A successful name for a beer before Prohibition did not assure its success some 15 years later. Bavarian also attempted to distribute another beer around 1938; one that they hoped would possibly be more attractive to the market across the river from Covington, called Cincinnati's Pride Brand Beer. It commemorated the Union Terminal train station that was completed a few years earlier. It appears Bavarian acquired this brand from Old Munich Brewing Co. who went out of business a couple years earlier. Evidently, this brand was also not well received and production was limited. After eliminating a couple lager beer brands in the late 1930s, the new owners of the Bavarian Brewing Co. decided to introduce an ale named after their family called Schott Ale around 1940, which continued until the mid 1950s. Labels used by the Bavarian Brewing Co. in the late 1930's and early 1940's are shown below. For additional labels during this period, as well as a summary of all labels the brewery used, please visit Beer Labels.
Shown on the bottom row is an ice sculpture that spells Bavarian. On the far left is William C. Schott, Vice President, and on the far right is George Schott, President.
December, 1940. Bavarian Brewing Co. hosted a banquet during the Centennial of Kenton Co. On the top row far left, seated at the middle at right of the main table were George and Will Schott, Pres. & V.P., respectively, with their wives. On the upper right photo in the background, a band is providing music for the occasion.
A Centennial Celebration
In 1940, to celebrate the Centennial of Kenton County, KY (est. in 1840) and the Bavarian Brewing Co., a banquet was held. Some pictures of the event are shown below. Some months before this banquet, the son of William C. and Lucia Riedlin Schott, William Riedlin Schott (Bill) joined the brewery. Bill had graduated from University of Cincinnati with academic honors (Phi Beta Kappa) and had also attended Harvard before he began to work for the brewery. At that time, in 1940, Bill's brother Louis, who was five years younger, had graduated from a public high school in Cincinnati, which Bill had also attended, Western Hills High. Later in that year Louis began attending Dartmouth College while Bill started working at the brewery.
Schott Brothers As Owners & Operators
Around the time of the above banquet in 1940, the Bavarian Brewing Co. had ads and some advertising items. One example is the neon "Spinner Clock" shown to the side, which indicated "Schott Brothers Owners and Operators" - of the brewery. This reference to the brothers was only used from the late 1930's until the early 1940's. It seemed to be discontinued beginning with the WWII years. Please see Ads: 1935 -1945. Also please refer to Signs: Neon, to view other signs used in this same period.
Men With Bavarian Master Brand Beer
c. Early 1940s
Shown in this photo is Lou Schott, far right, and Will Schott, standing the the far back, gathering with friends and possibly business associates. They are likely in a private room at one of the clubs in Northern Kentucky, or a hotel in Cincinnati. As shown by the bottles on the table, they are enjoying Bavarian Master Brand Beer. The labels on the bottles can be more easily distinguished by clicking on the picture. These labels were the same as those shown by the label above with the orange circle.
Bavarian Brewing Co. Delivery Trucks
This photo was taken directly in front of the Brew House. Since the building was not yet painted, the picture is likely from the late 1930's or early 1940s, before WWII. The italic lettering on the trucks was used from 1938 until 1946. Beginning in 1946 the brewery began using Bavarian's Old Style Beer in Gothic style lettering on their trucks and labels. The trucks are located in what would be the atrium area of the Kenton Co. Gov't. Center and in of the Information Desk today.
INSIDE THE BREWERY - Early 1940's
Numerous changes needed to be made to the brewery, even after improvements were made by the previous owners. Photos of the brewery operation shortly after the Schott Brothers acquired the brewery are shown below. From left to right, top down, the photos include; 1) a man adding ingredients into the brew kettle, 2) a chemist evaluating the ingredients for the beer, 3) fermentation tanks, 4) the process of skimming the fermentation tanks, 4) possibly the brewmaster inspecting the beer at the lauter tub, 5) the refrigeration equipment, 6) the coal fired steam boilers, 7) the panel controlling the flow of beer, 8) the Racking Room for filling kegs of beer and 9) the bottling department.