- Of Bavarian Brewery Co.  (1882 - 1889)

The industrial revolution was transforming America in the early and late 1800s. Steamboats escalated Cincinnati's growth beginning around the 1820s, the telegraph was in use by the 1840s, railroads from the east coast were serving the Ohio region by the mid 1850's, and the telephone began to be used in the 1870s and 1880s. The Bavarian Brewery, like many others throughout the country and in the Cincinnati area before 1880, had been relatively small making from a few hundred to several hundred barrels monthly. The process that most brewers used to brew beer during the 1870s typically restricted the distribution and sale of their beverages, usually in kegs, and within a local area. 


However, two inventions caused revolutionary changes to the brewing industry;  pasteurization and ice making.  Louis Pasteur invented a process to pasteurize beer in 1873, which prevented it from spoiling and made the bottling of beer more practical.  This made it easier for individuals to consume beer at home or in places other than those that served beer out of kegs.  In addition, ice making equipment in the 1870s not only allowed the making of lager beer to be made more easily year round, but it allowed beer to be shipped longer distances.  Of particular importance, ice making made it more practical for homes to use ice boxes year round to help preserve food - and beer.  These two important technologies, pasteurization and ice making, allowed brewers to more easily brew lager beer year round and enabled some brewers that were willing to make the necessary capital commitments to "export" their beer in refrigerated railroad cars to areas outside of their local area. It made it possible for brewers to expand their regional areas, and eventually become national in scope. However, with the national per capita consumption for beer in the Greater Cincinnati Area that was two or three time the national average due to its German heritage, the larger local brewers could be profitable without having to focus on having beer "exports."  Further, before Prohibition, most of the local Cincinnati area brewers did not have locations where railroad line spurs could be brought into into their breweries.  Consequently, it made it more difficult for them to transport beer via rail outside of the their Tri-State region.


After John Meyer acquired controlling interest in Bavarian Brewery Co. in 1879 and became the sole proprietor, he apparently decided he needed additional capital and another investor. In 1882, William Riedlin purchased an interest in the  brewery from Meyer. Prior to this William had been the proprietor of the Tivoli Hall, a beer garden and saloon in a the Over The Rhine (OTR) area of Cincinnati. It was located at 469 Vine Street, which is known today as 1313 Vine St. (Please see the building photo on the right.)  

William Riedlin arrived in Cincinnati from Baden, Germany, in 1870, and at first lived with his mother, who had settled in the OTR area a few years earlier. She had six brothers who had emigrated to America before William. They fought for the Union Army in the Civil War,  with only three surviving.  William was a blacksmith like his father, and started working in this trade for a couple of years. He then worked for the McNeal & Urban Safe Company in Cincinnati. Around the time he married Emma Hoffman in 1877, he was operating a grocery store. A year or two later he became the proprietor of Tivoli Hall. Despite making an investment in Bavarian Brewery, it seems William may not have moved his family to a new home across the Ohio River near the brewery for another year or two. This is partly supported by the fact that it appears he wasn't recognized as a proprietor of the Bavarian Brewery along with John Meyer until 1884, when the ad below appeared in the Williams Directory.


Former Tivoli Hall. This is the four story building on the left.   The three story building on the right is where William lived with his family around 1878 -1882. Apparently, there was a brewery on this site before then, and a former lager cellar below these buildings still remains.

The Ruh and Rieldin Families

Exactly how William may have heard about an investment opportunity in the small Bavarian Brewery in Covington, KY, is unknown.  He may have found out about by word of mouth in his Cincinnati saloon. However, there's  a possibility he had previous acquaintances with the Ruh family who had worked at the Bavarian Brewery as brewmasters that may have informed him about this opportunity.  Evidently, William was very good friends with Ferdinand (Ferd) Ruh. He was with Ferd in some Bavarian Brewery photos and received the stein from Ferd shown on the right side. Like William, Ferd was also from Baden, Germany. So, there may have been a possibility that William and his family may have known the Ruh Family before they emigrated to America, and/or shared some common acquaintances.  Ferd's son Charles had been the brewmaster of Bavarian Brewery in the 1870s, and then was succeeded by his brother Anton (Tony) around 1880. Incidentally, the middle names of both of William's sons, William Jr. and Walter, were Ferdinand. In addition, the year Walter was born, in 1887, was the same year the stein shown on the right was gifted from Ferd to William and his wife.  It could be coincidence, but possibly William named his sons after Ferd Ruh, in which case he had an especially strong relationship with the Ruh family, not only while they were with the Bavarian Brewery in Covington, but possibly when he also lived in Cincinnati.

Note: Besides Ferd Ruh who was about a generation older than William, Ferd had a younger relative that had the same name.

An 1887 Stein. Shown above is a silver stein presented to the Riedlin's in 1887 from Ferdinand (Ferd) Ruh. (Both William and Ferd  are identified in the photo below.)


On August 23, 1884, (according to a small notice in the Cincinnati Enquirer a day later), John Meyer and William Riedlin, proprietors of the Bavarian Brewery, purchased an interest in brewery that remained from the Deglow family.  An early photo of the brewery workers and signs promoting their Celebrated Meyer & Riedlin's Lager is shown below.  Various individuals are identified below and also in the text that accompanies the photo when this picture is clicked.

Meyer-Riedlin 1884 Photo. Beginning second from the left are J.H. Kruse (who became Secretary/Treas.), William Riedlin Sr. (co-owner who became Pres.) & his son William, Jr., Anton Ruh (who was brew master & became V.P), Joseph Ruh, Ferdinand Ruh and John Meyer (co-owner). The plaques in the photo are for the Meyer & Riedlin's Celebrated Lager Beer. The Meyer and Riedlin partnership was the beginning of successful relationship between William and many others who worked at the  this brewery. One such relationship, especially between the Ruh and Riedlin families. Please click on the photo for the other names. 


The Bavarian Brewery was established in the middle of a block between 11th and 12th streets on the north and south and between Main and Bullock streets on the east and west, respectively. (Please see the map below from 1886, but that was probably compiled a year or two earlier.) The block had both residential and industrial uses, and the immediate surrounding area was mostly residential. Before the advent of motorized vehicles, which didn't begin to appear until around 1900, it was common for places of work to be located next to residential areas. This allowed residents to simply walk to work. The proprietors often desired to live close to their business as well.  John Meyer lived next to the brewery at 244 Twelfth Street and William Riedlin lived across the street at 241 Twelfth Street. 

As shown by the map,  the brewery was situated between two ice ponds, with water that was supplied from, or ran into, Willow Run Creek. (Please click the map, or any of the images, for an enlargement.) On either side of the creek off Pike Street was a tannery.  The Malt and Brew houses were brick structures on Pike Street, shown in the photo in The Beginnings. But by mid the 1880's there were other brewery structures extending south to 12th Street, and they were all of frame construction. Behind the Wash House there were some Ice Houses. Underneath them were  some lager cellars.  The ponds were used in winter to cut out blocks of ice that were then stored in the Ice Houses and cellars to maintain a cool temperature in order to ferment and store the lager beer. One of these cellars, shown below, still exists. 

1886 Sanborn Insurance Map. The structures identified as Ice Ho's (Houses) above had some lager cellars under them.The dotted lines extending from the the ponds may represent conduits that provided drainage from the melting ice in these structures and cellars into to the ponds.