Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: Sam Adams fenced-in

In 1986, Cincinnati brewer Schoenling purchased the brands of fellow, larger, city brewer Hudepohl. It closed the plant the following year and moved all operations to its Schoenling plant. The consolidation wasn't enough to save the renamed Hudepohl-Schoenling. Competition from national breweries and aging facilities would prove to be intractable problems.

In 1997, the Boston Beer Company —owner of the Samuel Adams beers and malt-based beverages such as Mike's Hard Lemonade Twisted Tea— purchased the Schoenling brewery.

Samuel Adams Brewery in Cincinnati
Boston Beer had never produced much of its own beers since its beginnings in 1984/5.  Spending most of its income on marketing, it relied upon others —such as Pittsburgh Brewing Company and, later, Miller— to produce its beers. The 1997 purchase signaled a change. Today, the former Schoenling brewery produces over a third of Boston Beer's beers and other malt beverages.

Now, in 2010, Boston Beer —selling around 2 million barrels of beer and malt beverages per year— is the largest wholly American-owned brewery extant. Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Coors are foreign-owned. Stroh's, Pabst, etc. no longer exist; their beers are brand names only, brewed by others.

In the photograph, the high iron fence at the Sam Adams plant in Cincinnati seems unwelcoming. As of last check, indeed no organized public tours of the brewery were allowed.

  • Schoenling was the brewer of Little Kings Cream Ale, a fond 'poundable' memory to beer drinkers of a 'certain age' in the mid-west and mid-Atlantic. I haven't seen any Little Kings Cream Ale in the Washington D.C. area since the dissolution of the Snyder Group/Frederick Brewing Company. Reviews on BeerAdvocate and a story at Wikipedia confirm that it is still being brewed, but under contract, and not in Cincinnati.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays.


  1. Now that BBC has their Northeast PA brewery (built by Schaefer, owned by Stroh for most of it life, with a capacity of 5 million bbl) up and running, apparently they are now brewing ALL the Samuel Adams labels "in house". Somewhat surprisingly, there's been very little press about it, even tho' it is rather "big news"- perhaps because BBC doesn't want to remind folks of old controversies over "contract brewing".

    For more info on that PA brewery, I've got a webpage of material from it's heyday in the 1970's when Schaefer first opened it.

  2. Thanks for your link. The Schoenling facility in Cincinnati is quite old. The Lehigh Valley brewery in PA, on the other hand, was state-of-the-art when it opened, and is still 'modern' in comparison, if not in practice. It's quite impressive seeing it lit up from the Interstate.

  3. Yeah, the Schoenling brewery was built in the immediate post-Repeal era and was, IIRC, built quickly to take advantage of the first wave of beer sales (the Schoenling's had been in the ice business before that). Pretty sure that Schoenling used to boast in promo material that they were the oldest brewery founded after Repeal in the US.

    I only saw the place once, but as I remember it is was a rather plain depression-era building, nothing like the grand, classic 19th century brewery that Hudepohl was. When I first heard the merged company closed one of their breweries, I assumed it was the Schoenling plant. I guess closing the much larger capacity, older and less efficient Hudy facility made more financial sense, tho'.

    And, yes, the current Sam Adams Pennsylvania Brewery (BBC's official name for the place) is a great looking "modern" brewery and I'm looking forward to them again giving tours and re-opening that hospitality bar. When Schaefer was still giving tours, one could easily do both it and the Yuengling tour (only about 50 miles away, I think) - a nice example of old and new breweries, circa the 1970's anyway.

  4. Starting to get a big, creepy St. Louis vibe...

  5. you probably will never see the inside of the Cincinnati facility. Black mold, condemned and abandoned cellars, leaking storage tanks are the just a few of the problems. I heard that they invited employees to visit with their families for Octoberfest a couple of years ago, but only in certain areas.

    Sam Adams doesn't make Mikes Hard Lemonade. They make Twisted Tea, and Hard Core Cider. They've put some money into the facility, and the fence is due to the rough neighborhood the brewery is located in. Past brewery workers used to exchange beer for sexual favors with prostitutes in the parking lot. Cars were also stripped for parts while employees were working.

    They were still making some beer at Miller as late as this past summer, from what i hear. They also produce through City Brewing.

    Tried the Noble Pils recently, and thought it was pretty good.


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