Best Beer (Chicago)

Discussion in 'Breweriana' started by beertunes, Sep 13, 2019.

  1. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,419) Sep 24, 2007 Kyrgyzstan
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    @jesskidden , I'm at a local brewery, and another guy just dropped of a couple old cans for the owner:



    What do you know about Best Beer? The Black Horse has the cool push button tops.
     
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  2. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,880) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    Could be a Jacob's Best?
     
  3. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,419) Sep 24, 2007 Kyrgyzstan
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    The can said Best Beer Corporation, Chicago. When I get on an actual machine, I'll dig around a bit.

     
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  4. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,880) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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  5. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,815) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
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    Best Brewing Co. of Chicago opened in 1915 and closed in 1928 it was open for 13 years. Items from breweries of this age tend to be more common and less valuable than some breweries. Early items can still be valuable as can rarer types of items. This listing was active during Prohibition which makes it an oddity. Some breweries were able to stay in business by producing "near-beer" which was very low alcohol, some switched over to bottling sodas or other beverages, some became Ice-houses or other related businesses. Best Brewing Co. of Chicago was in an active brewing city. Chicago, IL was listed as having 166 breweries, which is quite a few. Sometimes a large number of breweries can lead to an active collecting community that will be willing to pay more for breweriana items than other collectors.
     
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  6. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,880) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    Not that one as it predated cans.
     
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  7. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,815) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
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    Another article says they were open longer, see below.
    "The former Best Brewing Company complex is a good candidate for the “best” brewing remnant in Chicago. Located in the 1300 block of Fletcher in Lake View, it was in operation from 1885 until 1961; quite a long run for a Chicago brewery. Between 1885 and 1891 the complex was owned by several brewers, including Klockgeter and Company, before it became the Best Brewing Company"
     
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  8. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,809) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    With the dots top, the Black Horse is probably mid 70's to early 80's
     
  9. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,880) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    Yeah, lots of confusing data searching it.
     
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  10. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,815) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
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    Agree, not sure on this one. With luck someone will have some solid info for the OP. Cool cans for sure.
    Cheers
     
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  11. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,809) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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  12. defunksta

    defunksta Defender (627) Jan 18, 2019 Illinois
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    The title of this thread is misleading.
     
    #13 defunksta, Sep 14, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
  13. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,419) Sep 24, 2007 Kyrgyzstan
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    Nope.
     
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  14. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Savant (952) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)
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    Dow wasn’t a Molson product until 1989 when It merged with Carling-O’Keefe who had acquired Dow in the 1960s. The Black Horse brand still exists - without any mention of ‘Dow’ on the label -as a brand, but only in Newfoundland and is now a lager.

    Dow’s claim to fame is that if you drank enough of it, it would kill you

    https://www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/beer-deaths-in-quebec

    At the time of the scandal it was actually the number one selling beer in Quebec.
     
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  15. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,868) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    That's because, according to other sources, Best re-opened in 1932 (likely to prepare for Repeal) although there are tax records for Best in '30 and '31.

    But I wouldn't say Best was an "oddity" for operating during Prohibition, there were still around 400 licensed breweries operating in 1925, dwindled down to around 230 licensed brewers by 1930 brewing near beer - but that'd still be over 10% of the number right before WWI (and its grain shortages, rationing and "wartime Prohibition" which limited alcohol content) and then National Prohibition. Many more were operating, making malt syrup.

    Chicago had a LOT of breweries that re-opened or started up in the first few years of Repeal - there were 29 by one industry source's count in 1936. That's more than more well-known brewing centers like Milwaukee, Philadelphia, New York or Brooklyn (even the latter two combined into "all NYC" had fewer) but the general opinion is that they were all relatively small and suffered under the competition from the larger Milwaukee and St. Louis breweries nearby, attracted by the market of country's second largest city. In 1961, the year of Best's demise, the largest selling beers in Chicago were Schlitz, Hamm's, Miller, Budweiser and Blatz, according to the Chicago Tribune. A 1958 industry study noted that "Illinois is one of the strongholds of the national brewers...(with 41% of market)" - twice the national average.

    Looks like Best was brewing in the 100k-120k bbl/yr range in the late 50s, putting them in the #90 -100 position in the US. Besides the Best brand, they also brewed Embassy Club and Hapsburg beers. Looks like the "Best" brand itself was lately picked up by some breweries known for picking up obsolete brands and selling economy beers - Cumberland in MD and Hornell in NYS.
     
  16. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,868) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yeah, that's a weird can for the US market. The "push button" opening puts it squarely in the 1970s, when the US trademark for "Black Horse Ale" was held by US owners (they apparently simply re-registered it in the early 1960s when the Canadian Breweries/Dow company let it lapse) and was being brewed by Metropolis (aka "Champale") in NJ, Diamond Spring in MA and Fred Koch in NYS and marketed quite widely in the eastern US.

    When I first saw the pic, I thought "Oh, nice - a Canadian BHA can..." until I noted "IMPORTED from Canada" around the top. Wonder who the importer was and it was just marketed in the PNW?
     
  17. woodychandler

    woodychandler Poo-Bah (10,053) Apr 9, 2004 Pennsylvania
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    For me, this was the important take-away from this article:
    "Most of the buildings in the complex have limestone tablets denoting their function. Best was one of the earliest and largest canning breweries in Chicago. It began canning its product for many local grocery stores in 1936."

    CAN you dig it?
     
  18. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,419) Sep 24, 2007 Kyrgyzstan
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    The guy who brought them in said he had gotten them back in the Midwest decades ago.
     
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  19. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,868) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yeah, it's a strange situation and one I've never really come to a fully-satisfying conclusion on - how there were so many different "Black Horse Ale" beers sold in the US in the period of the 1960 - 1990s or so, both brewed domestically (Koch, Metropolis and Diamond Spring and, finally, Genesee) and that Canadian import. Up until Fred Koch was bought by the UK brewer, Vaux, the first 3 all seem to have co-operated with one another - very similar labels, usually all using the 'dba' of Black Horse Brewery (of ____), etc.
    [​IMG]
    I suspect the Canadian import in the latter era was just simply marketed outside the primarily east coast distro. region of those 3 domestic brewers and no one cared enough to make a legal issue of it. As @Coronaeus notes, in Canada, the brand has an equally confusing ownership chronology:
    Dawes > Dow > Canadian > National > Carling-O'Keefe > Molson.

    In the late '40s-early '50s, however, the Canadian import appears to have been a well-distributed (most of the NE and Great Lakes states FL, WA, CA), popular beer in the US.
     
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  20. Redrover

    Redrover Poo-Bah (3,362) Jan 18, 2003 Illinois
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  21. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Savant (952) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)
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    The funny thing about the Canadian history is that it was one of the most popular brands in Quebec when a Dawes and then a Dow brand. I asked a friend who is a few years older than me and he said the brand pretty much disappeared from the Quebec market by the end of the 60s. So, despite still in existence up here, in Newfoundland, it has been likely 60 years or so since it was brewed in its home province.
     
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