The story of today’s Hudepohl Beer is one that picks up after the completion of a different story.  A much sadder story, in fact.  Hudepohl started in Cincinnati long before craft brewing existed, when this city was a very different place.  This city’s beer culture was something very different than it is now.  To fully understand what Hudepohl can mean to Cincinnati in it’s future, you really should understand it’s place in the past, which is chronicled in a bit more detail elsewhere, but I can offer a quick rundown for you if that’s easier…

Hudy-Label1A Quick History Lesson

The Hudepohl Brewing Company started making beer before Prohibition stripped this city of it’s Identity… However, they were one of the few breweries that not only were able to open back up after repeal, but that was able to thrive in a post-prohibition Cincinnati.  The brewery grew to operate two separate facilities in the city, and when the landscape started changing with more print and television/radio advertising was one of the breweries able to jump aboard until Cincinnati beer was almost synonymous with Hudepohl and their 14-K beer.  As light beer became popular, the brewery was able to produce their own Hudy Delight, to maintain their dominance over Cincinnati… but as times kept shifting… it couldn’t last forever.

Big Beer killed more breweries than we can count, and one of those to go down with the ship was Hudepohl.  They merged with one time rival Schoenling, and then their operation was purchased, and sold to out of state hands.  The slow demise is a painful one to think about… but it happened to many breweries across the country in a very sad time for local beer.

However… with all sad fairy tales, this one has a happy ending. The knight in shining armor for Hudepohl is a man named Greg Hardman.


Hudy-Label2Greg Hardman, and the Plan

At the time that Hudepohl was being stripped of it’s identity Greg Hardman was really figuring his out.  He was situated high up in the Warsteiner North American operations.  It was a company that he loved, and that loved him as much in return. He was doing fantastic things with the brand, when he made a decision that changed the course of Cincinnati beer.

He would save Cincinnati’s brewing heritage that was slipping away.

When he thought the idea up, I can only imagine those around him thought him to be crazy… it made little to no sense.  There wasn’t a thriving beer scene in Cincinnati, it would be years before craft brewing really started to take off.  But his reasoning behind why he should do it made sense… Because there is no one else who can.  But to do so would take a plan, so he developed four steps that would need achieved:

  1. Aquire the lost brands of Cincinnati’s heritage beers, bringing ownership back to Cincinnati
  2. Re-establish a base of sales for Cincinnati’s heritage brands.
  3. Open a world class brew-pub on the banks of the Ohio River (The Moerlein Lager House)
  4. Open up a brewery in historic Over The Rhine, bringing brewing back to where it belongs.

Like a puzzle, it has come together piece by piece, all while the craft beer scene here in Cincinnati has exploded around it.  Christian Moerlein has established itself as a company that not only desires to make good beer for their fans, but as one that wants to hold onto the soul of Cincinnati’s brewing past.  I don’t know of any other city that has a beer scene that has accomplished this to the level that we have.

Hudepohl-PureLagerThe Return

The fourth of the 4 phase plan is a fairly simple one to understand.  “Bring brewing back to Cincinnati”.  It’s also a point that some people have given the brewery a bit of shit about.  If you pull out a can of Hudy Delight, or Burger Classic.  These beers are still being contract brewed in other states.  But true to his promise, Greg Hardman is changing that.

The first of the contract brands that was going to come back was Hudy Amber Lager.  A massive favorite here in Cincinnati and beyond it was time to bring it to Over The Rhine.  When the brewing team started re-tooling the recipe to make it work on there system, a simple question was brought up, “Can we make it better?”  When the answer was given as a resounding “Yes” Hudepohl Pure Lager was born.  You can of course read more about the beer if you want…but the important thing to note is that this is a “cheaper” beer done in a fantastic way.  They are not just making cheap beer here to do it, they really want people to love Hudepohl the way this city did during the brewery’s heyday.

So…what does this mean for the other brands…still out there in “contract land”?  It’s in motion.  After talking to Greg Hardman about it, I can say that this is something he is extremely passionate about.  He wants this beer back inside Cincinnati, but also wants it done properly.  Keep your eyes on Hudepohl, the next year should have big things in store. This isn’t just about making beer, it’s about saving the soul of this city.

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