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Welcome to Amazing Tap Handles - The Tap Handle Museum. Here you will find photos of the Museum's collection of beer taps, along with brewery info. Have a look around the Museum, and use the contact form in sidebar to leave me feedback about the site, talk about taps, or if you have a rare tap handle you'd like to sell to the Museum. I'd love to hear from you! Please, no inquires about buying taps - they're not for sale.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tap Handle #148: Hudepohl-Schoenling - Little Kings Bruin Pale Ale

This is a nice tap featuring a golden bear on top of it. It's pretty rare. It required some touching up but is in fine condition.

Hudepohl Brewing Company was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1885 by Ludwig Hudepohl II. Hudepohl was the son of Bavarian immigrants and had worked in the surgical tool business before starting his brewery. Hudepohl Brewing Company became one of many Cincinnati breweries to thrive in the 1880s. Waves of German immigrants began settling in and around Cincinnati in the 1850s and 60s. Hudepohl brewed golden lager, dark lager, seasonal bock beer and several other regional styles of lager that were popular in the German homeland. They were among the top 5 brewers in Cincinnati when Prohibition hit the nation in 1918. Hudepohl survived Prohibition by making near beer and soft drinks. In 1933, Prohibition was repealed and they quickly jumped back into the beer business. Within two years Hudepohl was clearly becoming the dominant brewer in Cincinnati. The company was selling all it could make in its home market and really didn't see an immediate need to "export" beer to other states. During World War II, Hudepohl Beer was among the beers selected by the War Department for use by U.S. troops in the Pacific. The post-war years were marked by continual expansion of Hudepohl Brewery. The company even purchased a second brewery from a local competitor and operated both plants for many years in order to keep up with demand. However, the late 1950s and early 1960s saw increased market infiltration from national brands such as Schlitz, Pabst, Blatz and Budweiser.

By 1973, Burger Brewing Company of Cincinnati announced its closure. Hudepohl stepped in and purchased the brands and recipes of Burger. In 1981, Hudepohl introduced a new super-premium brand of beer called Christian Moerlein Cincinnati Select Lager, named after a popular pre-Prohibition Cincinnati brewer. The Moerlein brand proved popular, propelled by a $1 million initial advertising budget, but did not represent enough volume to save the Hudepohl Brewing Company. In 1986, Hudepohl was sold to Schoenling Brewing Company, makers of Little Kings Cream Ale, Schoenling Lager, Top Hat Beer and Fehr's X/L. (Note: Little Kings Cream Ale was introduced in 1958 in 7 ounce green bottles, similar to Mickey's, and proved to be very popular.) For about a year the Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Company continued to operate the Hudepohl plant on Gest Street while capacity was increased at the Schoenling plant. In 1987, all beer production was moved to the Schoenling facility and the Hudepohl plant was closed. Hudepohl-Schoenling operated in Cincinnati as an independent brewer until late 1997 when the brewery was sold to Boston Beer Company, brewers of Samuel Adams Beer. Hudepohl-Schoenling brands would continue to be brewed and packaged in Cincinnati under contract by Boston Beer Company, which had renamed the Schoenling Brewery "Samuel Adams Brewery." This arrangement continued until 2001 when the contract was not renewed by Boston Beer Company.

In 1999, the Lichtendahl family, who dominated the Hudepohl-Schoenling ownership group, elected to exit the beer business. They sold to Cleveland-based Crooked River Brewing Company, which eventually became Snyder International Brewing Group. Snyder International also purchased Frederick Brewing Company of Frederick, Maryland in 1999. The Frederick brewery was underutilized and so production of bottled and draft Hudepohl-Schoenling brands shifted to the Frederick brewery. In 2004, Gregory Hardman, a greater Cincinnati resident and successful beverage industry veteran, purchased the brands and recipes of Christian Moerlein from Snyder International Beverage Group bringing back the local ownership to Cincinnati. At that time, he also obtained a first right of refusal from Snyder for all other brands, recipes and trademarks of the Hudepohl-Schoenling brewing company should they ever be sold in the future. In 2006, Mr. Hardman’s Christian Moerlein Brewing Company and a private investment group purchased all remaining brands and recipes of the Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Company, including Little Kings, and began producing them.

Bruin Pale Ale was an American pale ale with a buttery malt aroma, and notes of chocolate and even prunes. It is no longer in production. Weighted average on is 2.98 out of 5.

Little Kings Official Website

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