The Historic Underground Breweries of Cincinnati

An episode of the Science Channel series Underground Marvels explored the subterranean vaults, factories, and tunnels of the Over-the-Rhine district in Cincinnati, Ohio, where German immigrants brewed beer.

For decades, Cincinnati has had a lot going on above ground. But what makes this historic city unique is what’s hidden below it. In the 1830 and 40s, hundreds of thousands of German refugees fled to the United States in hope of a life free from repression and inequality. In Cincinnati, they settled in the historic Over-the-Rhine district and they brought with them their most treasured product. Beer. 

This went on for decades until health, safety, and legal issues made brewing beer difficult. Sadly, the combination of the US entry into World War I plus Prohibition dealt the final blow.

The United States enters World War 1 in 1917. When that happens, all of that Germanness that made Over-the-Rhine such a unique European feeling place, that all becomes bad. So that’s really the first blow. Prohibition goes into effect nationally in 1920. And so all of this industry and all of this culture, it really all starts to collapse all at once. By 1918, laws were passed, forcing breweries to shut down.

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