Frederick Bruckmann was born in Berkan, Germany. In 1854 he emigrated to America with his older brother Johann (John) and younger brother Ernest. They all settled in Cumminsville, Ohio, where Frederick obtained work as a watchman at Caleb Dodsworth's Distillery.
As lore would have it, in 1856, at age 25, Frederick quit his job and started brewing beer, probably for a home-based saloon. Although Frederick's output was tiny by Cincinnati standards, sales were enough to warrant bringing his brother John in as a partner two years later.
Frederick's vision for the brewery was modest and production in the early days was low and limited to the inexpensive "common beer" that required no aging. Distribution was very local, perhaps not extending to more than a few taverns in Cumminsville. Growth was practically non-existent. Indeed, several years into his new career, Frederick is still listed in the 1860 census as a laborer who was sharing a home with another family and had an estate valued at zero. It would be another twelve years before the brewery was large enough to warrant a mention in the Cincinnati city directory.
The 1872 boldface debut directory listing was likely due to John's increasing influence on the firm's direction. The following years' directory shows that manufacturing had moved from the brewhouse near Clifton Avenue to the southwest corner of Ludlow Ave and the Miami Canal. This directory also shows that they now employed two brewers, Christian Gebser and Fred Schaumberger. At this point, they had assuredly progressed to producing lager beer.
In 1875 the directory showed that Frederick had at some time during the previous year exited the role of senior partner and left the company altogether. Fred, as he was now known, was listed as operating a saloon on Ludlow and Spring Grove, possibly adjoining the brewery. The following year he had moved to the northeast corner of Spring Grove and Mad Anthony Streets. By the end of the decade, Fred had pointedly changed the spelling of his, his wife's, and his children's surname to Brueckmann, separating themselves visually from his brother and publishing for all to see a family rift on page 182 of the Williams' Cincinnati directory of 1880.
After four years, the 53-year-old Fred dropped the "e" and went back to the original spelling of his name. He had also apparently retired from the saloon business, though he and his family were still living at the saloon address on Mad Anthony street.
Frederick Bruckmann died on the 14th of May, 1897, at the age of 65 years. His brother John had preceded him in death 10 years earlier. Ernest Bruckmann died in 1864 at the age of 27.
Frederick's wife, Elizabeth (nee Brandt), who he married in 1857, died in 1904. Although Frederick had left the family business, several of his children and children's children would join the firm and help guide the brewery into the 20th century.