Saturday, January 18, 2003

Ohio Moments

Bruck's ready to brew after Prohibition lifted

Bruck beer tap

On Jan. 18, 1920, the last legal shipment of beer was delivered to The Wheel CafÈ on Walnut Street in Cincinnati - two days before Prohibition took effect. The 18th Amendment had a dramatic effect in Cincinnati, which had a robust tradition of small, German-run breweries. The biggest names of the pre-Prohibition era disappeared, never to resurface.

When alcohol was legalized again in 1933, the country was in the throes of the Great Depression. Some of the old brewers welcomed the opportunity to go back into business, and Cincinnatians eagerly anticipated being able to swig a cold brew. Problems arose when the federal government insisted that state and local legislatures establish limits on the alcohol content of malt beverages.

When the wrangling was done - and the state and Cincinnati City Council had cleared the way for brewing in the city - the only company to emerge with the facilities and the license to brew and sell beer was the Bruckmann Co., which had been making a nonalcoholic beverage for the duration. When the company delivered its first supply of Bruck's draft beer to The Wheel, patrons lined up 15 deep on Walnut Street waiting to get in.

Rebecca Goodman

Ohio Moments will appear here daily during 2003. Have a suggestion? Contact Rebecca Goodman at or 768-8361.

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