Passages into the Past: Photographing Cincinnati’s First Brewing Era

Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine neighborhood is one of the most interesting and beautiful neighborhoods to photograph.  The turn of the century architecture as a whole is amazing and the buildings definitely have a story to tell;  from the materials the buildings are made of to the ornamental touches carved into the stone or wood. 

The Sohn-Clyffside brewery on McMicken is a great example of story telling via architectural design.  The symbolic representation is boldly visible by reliefs built within the structures façade. 

The Sohn-Clyffside Brewery on McMicken Avenue

The Sohn-Clyffside Brewery on McMicken Avenue

The brewers star sits high atop the building.  There are many variations behind the meaning of the star, but it is popularly believed to symbolize the purity of the beer brewed.  Another thought is that the six points represent six critical items required in beer making (water, grains, malt, hops, yeast, and the brewer). 

The Brewers Star situated at the top of the Sohn-Clyffside Brewery

The Brewers Star situated at the top of the Sohn-Clyffside Brewery

Though the brewers star may not be clearly understood by most, the second relief showing two cherubs holding what appear to be glasses of beer, a grain shovel, a mash paddle and aging barrels should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was a brewing facility.

(Photo courtesy of Joe Blank)

Sure signs of this building’s former life. (Photo courtesy of Joe Blank)

Sometimes, though, things may not be exactly as they seem.  With breweries changing hands multiple times or additions to facilities as operations grew, markers showing a year may not be when the facility as a whole was originally opened.  The 1887 marker on the Sohn-Clyffside building shows the date that portion of the building , the brew house (also known as the Sohn Building) was constructed, the original facility was opened in 1845. 

Date marker towards the center of the Sohn-Clyffside building.  But what does the date represent?  Years marked on buildings may not be from the original inception of the company, but an addition to.

Date marker towards the center of the Sohn-Clyffside building. But what does the date represent? Years marked on buildings may not be from the original inception of the company, but an addition to.

When exploring the city, take a look around and you may just be surprised at the stories some of the city’s oldest “residents” may have to tell.

Posted in Beer Travel, Local, Roadtrip! Tagged with: , , ,
3 comments on “Passages into the Past: Photographing Cincinnati’s First Brewing Era
  1. Definitely one of the most beautiful and ornate buildings in the city.

  2. s.wurster says:

    I enjoyed seeing the picture on McMicken, The Hudepohl Brewing Co. was where I worked in the early 1960’s was then pretty good shape.
    Nice to see the front again. The president and vice president had their cars parked right there in the front. I took the bus down to work. Not much parking in the back. Ty for addressing the symbols on the top of the building. I had not known about the symbols.

  3. Thanks for sharing the photos and information about the Sohn-Clyffside Brewery. We have been past it many times, especially during Bockfest. It is one of the beautiful historic buildings in the OTR area of the city.

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