Lucky Lager Comes Back to Bay Area as Pabst’s Latest American Classic

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by jesskidden, Jun 28, 2019.

  1. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,822) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Lucky Lager Comes Back to Bay Area as Pabst’s Latest American Classic
    So, looks like Pabst is (temporarily?) giving up the Root Beers and other "Not Your Father/Mother's" hard pops, and shandy/radler versions of their older brands, and trying again to revive a classic label, long since fallen into disrepute as a "cheap beer".

    They've not been particularly successful trying to duplicate their accidental success of Pabst Blue Ribbon - at least, I don't think so. Schlitz, Primo, the Ballantine Ales, McSorley's Ale, the new Rainier ales... All gone or hard to find. Not sure about the new Stroh's. And wasn't there an attempt at a new JAX in New Orleans? In general, only Narragansett (one that got away from Pabst) stands out as a "revived" brand.

    Lucky Lager, though originating in SF, eventually had a pretty broad distribution region - eventually brewed in WA, CO, UT where General Brewing Co. owned breweries. They even changed their slogan at some point.
    After General's owner, Paul Kalmanovitz, took over Falstaff and Pearl, they brewed Lucky in some Falstaff plants, too - Ft. Worth and Pearl in TX - so, as a cheapo, it saw distribution in the mid-west, south and east coast.

    For Lucky, they're going with a updated look -center- influenced by the pre-1970s label design- left.
    So, not exactly "retro".

    (I'm kinda still partial to the LUCKY LAGER in script -right- but that's based on my own history of drinking in Calif. in the '70s).

    Favorite Lucky trivia - The (latter day, post-Peter Green) Fleetwood Mac singer, Stevie Nick's father, Jess Nicks was president of Lucky/General Brewing in the 1960s,

    @Bitterbill - Can a new BREW 102 be far behind? :grin:
    #1 jesskidden, Jun 28, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
  2. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (902) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    It looks like the label on the left has a bottling date on it, Mar 28 41.
    Roguer likes this.
  3. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,822) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Nope - Lucky Lager the "Age Dated Beer" (and a few other beers- Rainier and Blatz and maybe Grace Bros., that I recall off-hand) put "Brewed on" dates in the early years after Repeal - likely a reaction to the common belief at the time that some brewers weren't adequately lagering their beers in a rush to market, and were selling "green beer" (and it wasn't even St. Patrick's Day!).

    So, in those cases, you didn't look for the nearest date.

    (Why I remember when the BA forums back then in the late 1930s were full of guys bitchin':
    Well, I think I remember that...:grin:)
    (Some other examples on my DATE CODE page.)
    #3 jesskidden, Jun 28, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
  4. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Devotee (494) Mar 19, 2012 California

    Dam. This brings back memories. I remember the label on the right. I didn't start drinking until the early 80s and we drank Bud, Michelob, Henry Weinhard (my friends called it Old Wood), and Schlitz Talls. We thought drinking Lucky Lager was beneath us. LOL.
    stevepat likes this.
  5. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,824) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    That old style radler was forgettable. Didn't even realize that they had made a Natty Boh radler ...
    PBR has had national success, but I feel like some of the other brands have had regional success, no? Natty Boh in Baltimore, Strohs and Schlitz in the Great Lakes? Maybe thats what they're going for here?
    Bitterbill likes this.
  6. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (277) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    "1. Lucky Lager is age dated which guarantees that each bottle has been aged and mellowed three full months. Only months of aging can produce a true lager beer."

    Was the copy that expensive that they couldn't fit "the contents of each bottle" in the ad I wonder, or did they include the aging taking place at the distributor and retailer in the age statement? :stuck_out_tongue: Joking aside it's an interesting concept of stating the brewday. 3 months (even including primary fermentation of say about a week+, ruh of a month+ and chip casks for a month) is pretty decent. I guess by the end of the 1930s, early 1940s alot of breweries had plenty of built up capacity to where they needn't rush the beers onto the market.

    I thought it was interesting to see Nugey note in his book Brewing formulas practically considered on page 18:

    If the capacity was great enough there was no need for differentiated aging periods I guess (for a time at least, until the underutilization was deemed a problem)
    #6 Crusader, Jun 28, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
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  7. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,674) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    Bringing back 102 would be nice but I would prefer a resurrected Falstaff. :wink:
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  8. 10adp

    10adp Initiate (58) Mar 18, 2014 Alberta (Canada)

    Never went away in western Canada. Brewed by AB InBev for a decidedly discount market and long been shorthand for cheap redneck beer.

    Many a bad story begins with the words "So me and some boys headed out with a case of Lucky, right? Well..."

    (Fun fact: A Sapporo subsidiary here owns PBR, Olympia, Old Milwaukee and Rainier here. Some store actually sell "imported" PBR from the States.)
  9. Spikester

    Spikester Poo-Bah (2,125) Jul 14, 2007 Oregon

    I remember drinking Lucky Lager in the 1960's. It was brewed across the river from Portland, OR. in Vancouver, WA. There was a big neon sign that dominated the night sky when you crossed the I-5 bridge into Washington State. I also recall they were the first in the area to brew it in three iterations. Lucky Light, Lucky Lager, and Lucky Dark? Not sure if the heaviest version was called Lucky Dark?
  10. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,370) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    Soooo... The obvious question I have to ask, are they going to also resurrect and include the word puzzles on the inside of the cap. I assume it's a given we won't be seeing retro pricing on this beer. Still remember going to a party while on leave from the army, and having the hostess brag about getting a case of lucky for (I think) either 1.99 or 2.99 a price.

    Good times (sarcasm intended).
    #10 John_M, Jun 29, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
    FBarber likes this.
  11. DavidK1126

    DavidK1126 Initiate (38) May 7, 2019 New Jersey

    One of my pals worked for Kalmanovitz. The Vancouver WA brewery was sold to an entity in China. The brewery was disassembled and shipped to China, where, presumably, it was reassembled and used to brew something over there. I was sorry to see it go.
  12. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (902) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    How long were beers lager for at that time?
  13. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,822) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Yeah, Labatt bought around half of General Brewing/Lucky Lager in the 1960s - I take it that's when the Canadian Lucky dates from? The companies ran into anti-trust problems with the DoJ when, a few years later, Schlitz (which also owned the Burgemeister brand and brewery in SF) bought a huge percentage of Labatt.

    Sleeman's owns the labels, or just has a permanent license for them? (Not that it makes a difference, I suppose.) Stroh owned 20% of Sleeman's in the 1990s, as I recall some of those deals for the Stroh (and, later, Heileman, after the two merged in the mid-90s) labels -some for contract-brewing, some for import rights - originated in that period. They then became "permanent" after Stroh sold out to Pabst in 1999. Sleeman, along with Great Western, had already had a deal for PBR at the time. Did the "Rainier" deal date from an earlier period when it was still owned by the Canadian and US multi-brewer owner Emil Sick?

    My favorite "Fun Fact" of that period - The #1 Import in Canada at the time: OLD MILWAUKEE.

    Those puzzles, which the brewery (S&P - which owned General/Falstaff/Pearl and later Pabst) once called "Crown Ticklers" are already on some of the Pabst brands* but it appears Lucky Lager is, so far, going to be canned only?
    * Or "were" in recent years. (Don't buy 'em). I think a few breweries that have brewed for Pabst also uses them - The Lion being one.
    Parts of the Pabst brewery in Newark, NJ were also shipped to China by Kalmanovitz's S&P Corp. (which bought Pabst in the mid-80s). There was once a nice Falstaff "fan site" that had photos of some of the various breweries' equipment setting in a field in China, rotting away...

    Alan Kornhauser, who worked for Anchor, Schell, Huber and Heileman's small "Blatz microbrewery" in Milwaukee, is apparently (based on his Linkedn page) still with Pabst in China, where some of that stuff wound up in a joint venture with the Chinese, where PBR is brewed for their domestic market.
    A few years back they made international news for some $44 bottle of PBR.

    As @Crusader noted above, 3 months was still typically said to be standard length for the better US brewed "premium" lagers of the time.
    #13 jesskidden, Jun 29, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
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  14. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,310) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    I saw this thread two hours before leaving San Francisco and figured it was kismet (thanks @jesskidden ), so I hit the hilly streets and found a sixer.


    This was a rushed first impression, but it tasted a lot more like a typical AAL than one of the “craft” offerings that tastes like lemony hops. When I say “typical AAL,” I don’t mean that in a negative way - I like a good AAL. This one seemed to be brewed well, with no offputting character. It was a bit too sweet for my tastes, but I easily downed two of them in a row. It seemed like it fit right in the AAL box perfectly, but at craft prices.

    While a nice beer, they are really creating the impression of this being a case of style over substance though... with the emphasis on the work with the design company and a clothing company (with an emohasis on local). Their website (at least on a mobile phone) pushes the clothing really hard. I think the branding design has a big misstep with the box. They have the distinctive X spread across two sides, but the retailers put the boxes in the coolers with only the small side facing out, and the graphic on that side is easy to miss.


    @jesskidden - Thanks for also taking the time to mention that Stevie Nicks was post Peter Green to avoid any confusion. :wink: :grin:
    Roguer, deanzaZZR, Bitterbill and 4 others like this.
  15. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,822) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Well, I didn't want anyone to get confused...:wink:

    (Gotta give 'Greenie' his due, no matter how unrelated the original topic...:grin:)

    With the topics of music and beer now combined, I guess it's time to post this classic photo...
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  16. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,310) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    I first thought it was going to be an off-topic photo, but I should have known better. :slight_smile:
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  17. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,242) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    I just like the name.
  18. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,822) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    So, apparently, did this outfit:

  19. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,674) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    I didn't like that beer.
  20. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,822) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Beer? That cool bottle comes with beer in it, too?:grin:
  21. rjniles

    rjniles Initiate (97) Aug 30, 2012 South Carolina

    Used to buy LL in the Base Exchange at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa back in the early 60s. 32 ounce bottles 25 cents. Desperation drinking.
    deanzaZZR likes this.
  22. 10adp

    10adp Initiate (58) Mar 18, 2014 Alberta (Canada)

    Highly doubt these beers are going to ever touch glass. They'll be consumed entirely from cans and rubber hoses attached to helmets or funnels, or drank straight from the tap/keg.
  23. 10adp

    10adp Initiate (58) Mar 18, 2014 Alberta (Canada)

    Must be because AB InBev has it via Labatt.

    Point taken. More likely a license.

    Don't recall Great Western ever brewing PBR (though I'm not dismissing the possibility), I only know them as brewers of Olympia in the prairie provinces.

    He, too, was simply a licensee of the Rainier name. His Seattle/Spokane operations were different than the Hamm's/Rainier group in San Francisco. Molson bought Sick's Lethbridge brewery but either didn't or couldn't include Rainier's Canadian rights — if Sick even had them. Records indicate it Sleeman took over the copyright from Pabst via Stroh via Heineman via the original SF company.
  24. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (955) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I'd like to see Andeker.
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  25. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,822) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Looks like the western Canadian brewing company, Coast Breweries Ltd., owned a substantial portion of the US's start-up General Brewing Co., and was brewing the Lucky Lager brand for the Canadian market soon after US Repeal.
    Labatt bought that company - by then known as Lucky Lager Breweries, Ltd. - in the late '50s. (Of course, that doesn't explain US sources that say Labatt didn't buy into the US Lucky/General in the '60s...)

    When the SF Rainier was sold to Hamm in '53, they sold the Rainier brand to Sick in a separate deal, according to the AP story at the time.
    At least one modern source claims Sick bought the entire SF company and then arranged the deal for Hamm to buy the brewery itself, since he was only interested in ownership of the brand. Previously, Sick's brewery (Seattle Brewing & Malting Co.) was licensing the "Rainier" brand in their US marketing region (WA, OR, ID, MT).

    I guess soon after Molson took majority control of Sick's brewing holdings, by the late 50s?

    A few decades later, on the last day of 1976 Heileman annoucned they'd bought what was by then just called Rainier Brewing Co. in Seattle. Then the >Stroh >Pabst route followed in the 1990s.

    Hmmm... gotta check my Pabst files to find where I got that idea...
    OK, I based it on the [above/right] 2000 note in an article on GW.

    But, yeah, the current "shorthand" history of cross-border beer and brewing between the US and Canada tends to start with Labatt's licensing of the Budweiser brand in the early 80s, after which Miller, Coors, Stroh and Pabst followed, with eventually the "transplant" brands from AB and Coors coming to be among Canada's largest sellers. But there were a lot of interesting deals before that - Drewry's, Carling, Frontanac, Rainier, Lucky Lager, Black Horse Ale...

    I seem to remember once finding a nice chart online with the all the mergers of Canadian breweries in the 20th century but can't find it in my bookmarks. Sound familiar? Should have kept a copy of it...'cause Canadian brewing history makes my head spin sometimes when I dip into it.:wink:
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  26. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,822) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Well, from business reports it seems that Labatt-owned stock amounting to 47-49% of the total shares of the (US) Lucky Lager/General Brewing Corp. gave it control of the company by 1963, with some sources calling General a Labatt subsidiary.

    Although, I'd forgotten this aspect of the deal.
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  27. Giantspace

    Giantspace Crusader (713) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Pabst had Andries on tap last spring. It was pretty good.

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  28. mschrei

    mschrei Poo-Bah (2,064) Jul 4, 2014 Illinois

    Bought many a twelve pack for five bucks when I lived in LA from 1995-2005. Between the value, the bottle cap puzzles, and from what I hazily recall of the taste, that was a good beer.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  29. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (3,805) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Yes they do in their tap room along with Red, White and Blue. I don't think either are making their way to cans though unfortunately.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  30. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (13,459) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Picked up a six pack at a Costco in the Bay area for $6.50. Pretty good for what it is.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  31. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,310) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    Had my last can the other day. It reinforced my initial impression. Thought it was well made but lacking character (even taking style into account). I wouldn't take one over a Coors Banquet, but I would take one over a Bud Ice (or a Founders Solid Gold for my tastes).
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