The Hudepohl Smokestack, a 150-year old Cincinnati landmark, was demolished on Sunday, June 16th, 2019 amidst heavy rains. The O’Rourke Wrecking Company took charge of the demolition which started around 7:00 am. The smokestack, which has been out of commission for 32 years, is part of the former Hudepohl Brewery complex located on West Sixth Street.
The smokestack had to be demolished because according to a recent report by the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, the cost to repair and rebuild the Queensgate landmark exceeds their resources to save it. The estimated cost, at the minimum, would have been $985, 400.
The Hudepohl Smokestack
The iconic 170-foot smokestack bearing the name Hudepohl has towered over the city for years. The Hudepohl brewing facility closed down in 1987, but the smokestack and part of the building remained until June 16th. The crumbling, abandoned structure was deemed environmentally hazardous by the City Council and despite efforts to save it, had to be torn down because upkeep would be unreasonably expensive.
For years, the smokestack has served as a visible link to the city of Cincinnati’s glorious beer brewing legacy. The edifice was a symbol of the city’s economic and historical roots. The brewery buildings on West Sixth Street date as far back as the 1860s. It originally housed Lackman Brewery, which Hudepohl bought out in 1935.
Hudepohl Brewery was established in 1885 by its founder Ludwig Hudepohl II, an American born to Bavarian immigrants. Proud of its Cincinnati roots, Hudepohl was dubbed as “America’s Great Small Brewery.” During the 1930s post-prohibition era, it was the largest brewery in the Queen City. The height of its beer production was from the 1940s to the 1980s. During that time, it was so popular in Cincinnati that it was the only brand offered in the city’s Price Hill neighborhood bars. Its top-selling brands Christian Moerlein, Hudepohl 14K and Hudy Delight dominated the local market. In fact, Ludwig Hudepohl II is considered the first Cincinnati-born beer baron.
Cincinnati’s beer-brewing industry grew from a wave of German immigration that started in the mid-19th century. Most of the German-run breweries were located in the city’s Over-The-Rhine neighborhood. The beer industry had a huge impact on the city, creating thousands of jobs and creating a social culture centered on hundreds of saloons. When local brewers did not expand or modernize their facilities between the 1960s to the mid-1990s, national brands such as Budweiser and Miller overtook sales in the area. This forced breweries such as Bavarian and Burger to close down. Hudepohl had the most staying power until it was sold in 1986 and merged with different companies throughout the years.
Preserving the Hudepohl Heritage
Representatives from Brewing Heritage Trail, a tour operator that’s planning to celebrate Cincinnati’s beer brewing history, were present during the demolition. They were able to salvage some bits and pieces, including the historic stone and stainless steel entry. The plan is to display these pieces as part of Cincinnati’s brewing tours. According to Greg Hardman, the current owner of Hudepohl brands, the brand is forever ingrained in Cincinnati. In fact, he brought the beer back to the city over the last several years. It’s served in local bars and sold in stores. The original Hudepohl Brewery and bottling plant still stands on McMicken Avenue.