Born on May 13, 1818 in Truppach, Bavaria, died on May 14, 1897 in Cincinnati, Ohio, buried at Spring Grove Cemetery
Christian Moerlein immigrated to the United States in 1841. He eventually settled in Cincinnati. Along the way, Christian worked as a cellar digger, blacksmith and eventually a beer brewing master. In 1853, Christian established a brewery on Elm St. in the Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati. At the time, the Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati was predominantly a German neighborhood. The brewery, the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, became the 13th largest brewery in the nation prior to Prohibition. It was also the most prominent brewery in Cincinnati.Christian was a generous man. He befriended many throughout his life.
Let's start with the actual brewery. One book states the brewery had always been on the east side of Elm Street, where Mr. Moerlein had turned his blacksmith location into a brewery. This is simply not true. In the 1855 Williams' City Directory, I found the following entry:
Clearly, this is not on Elm Street. In 1860, the brewery was on Elm but on the west side, at 721 Elm (modern day 2019 Elm). This location did eventually become the office for the brewery once the brewing complex was built on the east side of Elm around 1868, as seen above.Moerlein Christ. (M. & Wendrich,)Moerlein & Wendrick, (Chris. M. & Conrad W.) brewery, Brown b. Dunlap & Smith
The brewery stables were mentioned in one book and on websites as still existing where Henry and Branch Streets meet. This is inaccurate.
|Moerlein Stables? - Nope (Source)|
|1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source|
|The actual stables. - Source|
|Jacob Moerlein's House - Source|
|1904 Sanborn Insurance Map. Moerlein properties outlined in blue. - Source|
|1910 photo of the old bottling works, Elm Street Club House and Moerlein Barrel House - Source|
In 2010, there was a fire in the top floors of the "barrel" house. As a testimony to the excellent construction, the building withstood the fire, was not demolished and has since been repaired. In 2013, Rhinegeist Brewery (a nice German interpretation of "spirit of the Rhine") opened at 1910 Elm Street, bringing brewing and bottling back to the building.
|2010 fire at the barrel house building - Source|
|Stock house, not ice house - Source|
|Moerlein Office - Google Street View|
|Malt House - Google Street View|
|1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source|
1910 Elm Street - "Barrel" House (built between 1891 and 1904), part now occupied by Rhinegeist
1916 Elm Street - Bottling Plant (built after 1910)
2017 Elm Street - Jacob Moerlein's Home (built around 1880)
2019 Elm Street - Moerlein Offices (built around 1873, addition in 1904)
2025 Elm Street - Malt House (built before 1891)
114 Henry Street - Stock House (built between 1891 and 1904)
This is amazing to me, especially since so many other buildings are no longer with us in Over-the-Rhine. Luckily, we have Greg Hardman with the re-established Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, continuing the Cincinnati beer brewing heritage and groups like the Over-the-Rhine Brewery District, working to preserve and redevelop the area where so many breweries had their businesses flourish long ago. If you would like to know more about Moerlein and the other breweries, take a tour!
This article was last updated on February 21, 2014.