Entry for "Billy Beer"?

Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by beertunes, Nov 3, 2019.

  1. NYRunner

    NYRunner Initiate (59) Nov 5, 2018 New York

    Wow, memory flashes! I was 16 when Carter was elected in 1976, and his brother was in the media in a way that would seem rather tame by now. (Time Magazine, as I remember, called him "irreverent"). I never tried Billy Beer, though I heard it wasn't very good. Compared to the other AALs that we were drinking in '76, it must have been pretty darn bad.
     
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  2. rousee

    rousee Meyvn (1,039) Aug 13, 2004 Massachusetts

    All you home brewers can say thanks to Billy beer as it prompted the removal of a law that prohibited brewing your own.
     
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  3. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,867) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    The legalization of homebrewing in 1978 was mostly through the efforts of California Senator Alan Cranston, who worked with a number of CA homebrewing clubs on the legislation. Billy's brother, President Jimmy Carter, did sign the bill which was described as "...a minor five-part revenue bill..." in the wire service stories of October, 1978. Billy Beer was the creation of the Falls City Brewing Co., of Louisville, KY, from an idea from ad exec Rod Burton. Carter merely picked out the recipe he liked best - no homebrewing was involved.
     
  4. rousee

    rousee Meyvn (1,039) Aug 13, 2004 Massachusetts

    Well thank you for setting me straight. I should've known it was a bit of a leap....:sunglasses:
     
  5. Bobbi862

    Bobbi862 Initiate (31) Sunday Illinois

    I
    I have a can of Billy Beer sitting on a shelf. Got it in Billy’s heyday. No way I’m drinking that- and, if it ever becomes valuable, I’m set!
     
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  6. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,970) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Trader

    Hmm, valuable, no worth $8 or so.
     
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  7. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,416) Sep 24, 2007 Kyrgyzstan
    Trader

    Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed:



    @nc41
     
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  8. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,416) Sep 24, 2007 Kyrgyzstan
    Trader

    Taking today off the beer, and at the end of a long day tomorrow, I won't be able to do it justice. Tentative review date is Wednesday.
     
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  9. Specialmick

    Specialmick Initiate (53) Aug 26, 2019 Connecticut

    Nice to see that beer again.... my father must have drank them in the seventies he just has the empty 6 pack. Still love to know how bad it turns out
     
  10. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,970) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Trader

    Next time in Mt Airy I’ll grab the Worlds Fair Beer, they had multiple full cans, different colors. I’m guessing they're mid 1980s, but I’m not sure.

    @beertunes
     
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  11. hottenot

    hottenot Aspirant (250) Aug 13, 2018 North Carolina
    Society

    Billy Beer was just the same as that WTF generic BEER. You know, the one in the white can that just said BEER in black letters in a kind of stenciled style? Yuck.
    BEER was really bad, no matter how cold it was.
     
  12. hottenot

    hottenot Aspirant (250) Aug 13, 2018 North Carolina
    Society

  13. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,877) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    Yeah, I used to see them at all of the grocers in California in the 70s. All(?) probably brewed by General.
     
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  14. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,475) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    LOL. That's exactly what I thought. I doubt I would have been able to tell them apart if I tried them side by side blind. I think a 6 pack of that crap ran around .99 over at the local Long's when I lived in Santa Cruz, California. It was so cheap, I couldn't resist, but like everyone says, you get what you pay for. The one 6 pack was all I ever purchased.
     
  15. hottenot

    hottenot Aspirant (250) Aug 13, 2018 North Carolina
    Society

    Cheap was all it had.
     
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  16. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,867) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    But, initially at least, it wasn't "cheap" given the US beer market of the late 1970s. In most markets, it was sold in the "Premium" (Budweiser, MHL, Schlitz) price segment, sometimes even a bit higher than those brands. At the time, higher priced imports made up only about 2% of the US market and what would become "craft beer" consisted of 10k bbl. coming out of Anchor and 50 cases a week of New Albion.

    The "Superpremium" segment was pretty much AB's Michelob (some Andeker - if you could find it), though it was about to heat up with Miller's domestic Lowenbrau and one of Schlitz's last gasps, Erlanger.

    In NYS, Kemper Matt (of what was then West End Brewing Co., now F X Matt) noted their version of Billy sold in the $1.79-$1.89/sixpack range, when their flagship Utica Club was often priced at 99¢, and their own "premium", Matt's was typically about $1.50. Billy Beer's NYS price in '78 was equivalent to about an $8/sixpack in today's money, according to the DoL Inflation Calculator.

    Likely, the higher retail price was, in part, what attracted the four regional brewers of Billy Beer, despite the gimmicky aspect of it, since all were dependent on their popular-priced AAL's. Make a few extra bucks and partially fill some of their excess capacity, before it would predictably die.
     
  17. Peach63

    Peach63 Aspirant (249) Jul 17, 2019 New York
    Society

    This is surprising. I too, thought it was cheap. However, I was underage when I tried Billy, so I didn't pay for it. :wink:
     
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  18. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,332) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    I'm not sure even the novelty aspect will induce me to try this again.
     
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  19. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,475) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    I could be wrong about this, but I thought the comment from @hottenot was in reference to the "generic" white can beer (that just said "beer" on the outside of the can). My recollection of the cost of Billy beer was that it was not a particularly inexpensive beer. I want to say a 6 pack was in the $1.99 range back in the day, which just as you mentioned, meant it was priced like bud or miller high life at the time. Given how lousy the beer was, it was pretty hard not to feel insulted by the price. I remember thinking and hoping that surely the brewer must have tweaked the recipe in some way so that it wouldn't taste like just another lame AAL, but of course I was sadly mistaken. In my mind it was clearly just a gimmick beer, and like most consumers I suspect, one and done was all I ever did of Billy Beer.
     
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  20. gopens44

    gopens44 Poo-Bah (2,295) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
    Society Trader

    You could tell them apart I'd bet. Miller Lite, sweet corn. MGD, boozy corn. Coors Light, lighter sweet corn. Bud, bitter corn. Bud Light, bitter, lighter corn
     
  21. hottenot

    hottenot Aspirant (250) Aug 13, 2018 North Carolina
    Society

    John M. You're not wrong, BEER was awful. I tried to embrace the concept.
    But failed.
     
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  22. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,877) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    Yeah, BEER was a fad, brewed by a number of breweries across the US, sold in grocery stores, sold cheap and tasted that way. They didn't do any favours to the perception of American beer to anyone.