Historic Cleveland Breweries
by jim prohaska

C. E. Gehring Brewing Company

C.E. Gehring Brewery Company's Malt House  –  Freeman and Gehring Aves., 1922

C.E. Gehring Brewery Company's Malt House  –  Freeman and Gehring Aves., 1922

 C. E. Gehring Brewing Company

One of the most popular Cleveland breweries to exist was located one block from our Forest City Brewery (FCB). This was the C. E. Gehring Brewing Company, located at Freeman Avenue, Pearl Street (W. 25th Street), and Brainard Avenue (now named Gehring Avenue). Today, this area is behind the Market Square shopping plaza (W. 25th and Lorain) an is an empty lot and the RTA railway tracks.

Carl Ernst Gehring (b. 1830) immigrated to the U.S. in 1848 from Germany where he had been a Brewer’s apprentice. He worked in several Cleveland breweries before founding his own in 1857. During his first year, he produced 1,800 barrels of beer. By 1878, and after much expansion, the C.E. Gehring Brewery was producing almost 16,000 barrels annually.

Due to Cleveland’s expanding population, Gehring expanded his operation to include a 155-barrel brew kettle, 36 fermenting tanks, a malthouse, 2 ice houses, and 6 lagering cellars. By this time, Gehring had also moved his family to a residence located on Brewery property. His entire family (including 4 sons) all worked in some capacity at the Brewery.

The Gehring Brewing Company had extensive sales throughout the saloons and beer gardens of Cleveland. Gehring also had a robust distribution system, delivering beer to western New York and Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and throughout Ohio. Production steadily grew as the demand for what was considered Cleveland and Ohio’s “best beer” increased. The demand for lager especially grew the entire local beer market with the influx of Polish, Czech, German, and Irish immigrants who settled in Cleveland.  In 1888, the brewery produced an amazing 68,000 barrels of lager beer.

C. E. Gehring was a champion for the cultivation and advancement of the Cleveland brewing industry. He was president of the Local Association of Brewers of Cleveland, as well as being an active member of national brewing organizations. Gehring was also very civic-minded and was a member of the Cleveland City Council (1873) and was Police Commissioner (1875-76). He supported the Jones Home for Friendless Children, the Altenheim home for the elderly, and the German Hospital (now Fairview General Hospital). He was president of the Forest City Bank (W. 25th and Detroit) for a number of years.

C. E. Gehring died in 1893. His family ran the Brewery until 1898, when it was absorbed by the Cleveland & Sandusky Brewing Company conglomerate. F. W. Gehring (Carl’s son) became the first president of C&SBC, once the amalgamation of a number of local breweries was completed. With Prohibition looming, the plant closed in 1918. The last of the Gehring Brewing Company buildings burnt in a 1927 fire. Today, no remnants of this important piece of Cleveland brewing history remains save for the street that bears Carl’s name.