History of Cincinnati Breweries: Christian Moerlein and Beyond - Dining
History of Cincinnati Breweries: Christian Moerlein and Beyond
For nearly 100 years leading up to Prohibition, beer was a leading export and the breweries themselves were a major employer of Cincinnati. Although Cincinnati had previously been infamous for being the center of pork production in the U.S., beer eventually took the lead in driving Cincinnati’s economy. By 1890, Cincinnati was the 3rd largest beer producer in the country.
Beers Made in Cincinnati
Historically and again today, several German breweries located in Over The Rhine produced locally-made beer. Over The Rhine is a 360-acre neighborhood located just north of downtown Cincinnati. This neighborhood was the landing spot for most immigrants making their way to Cincinnati, includingthe Germans, who brought with them a serious work ethic, a strong cultural identity and a thirst for bier (traditional German spelling).
At one time, Over The Rhine was home to more than 15 breweries and a few of these elaborate structures still stand today. In fact, some lagering tunnels and underground storage facilities that ran underground and connected many buildings and facilities are still being rediscovered today. The many saloons that operated during this period were the nerve center of social life for many of the residents of Over The Rhine. They were also the target of several temperance movements and caused a considerable amount of political unrest in the area. A few Cincinnati beer names you may recognize include: Christian Moerlein, Hudepohl, Burger, Schoenlings and Little Kings.
Prohibition in Cincinnati
With the onset of Prohibition coming to Cincinnati in 1919, the many breweries in the region were shut down. A few were able to reopen in 1933 but changes in the marketplace made it difficult for them to operate for long. Many bigger operations such as Anheuser-Busch and Miller had changed the game.
But in recent years many of these beers are being brewed once again at updated and restored facilities in their old neighborhood, Over-the-Rhine, also known as simply "OTR." In addition to these traditional breweries, several new craft brewers have also been established in various locations throughout the city.
The legendary Christian Moerlein brand was reintroduced in 1981 and led the way for the local craft beer movement. It soon became the first brand to pass the high standards of the Reinheitsgebot Bavarian Purity Law of 1516. Their beer still contains only four ingredients: Malted Barley, Hops, Water and Yeast just as it did when Christian Moerlein was the brew master.
Since 2004 Christian Moerlein has been under the ever-watchful guidance of beer baron Greg Hardman, who purchased the brand in 2004. Greg’s continued commitment to beer excellence makes Christian Moerlein a better beer.
At the Moerlein Lager House, located across the street from the Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati’s colorful beer brewing history comes to life and continues to introduce a new generation of craft beer lovers to time tested traditions. This world-class brewpub features 19th-century-inspired rotisserie dishes, as well as freshly brewed, award-winning Christian Moerlein beer that is brewed on site.