Memories of "Double Dark Prior"

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by shawnohall, Apr 8, 2013.

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  1. shawnohall

    shawnohall Aspirant (201) Nov 8, 2009 Texas

    While in college, circa 1977, a good friend of mine exposed my young, ignorant taste buds to a brew referred to as "Double Dark Prior" at the college tavern. Having never tasted anything but mass-produced lagers, it was a shock to the system. By the end of the first plastic cup full my palate was starting to get with the program; and mid-way through my second cup I was in love.

    I had returned to Upstate New York several times since then, but apparent Prior Double Dark no longer exists. I had read in a couple of places that Matt's Brewing bought out Schmidt's (the original brewer of Dark Prior) decades ago, and the persistent rumor is that Matt's rebranded Prior as Saranac Black Forest. I've read other blog entries saying that the late F.X. Matt supposedly stated that it isn't so. Does anyone have any insight on this? If Saranac Black Forest isn't the same thing, is there anything on the market anywhere that's close to it? I remember loving that beer, and would enjoy that taste again. Thanks.
  2. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,290) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    You seem to be referring to my comment re: Prior Double Dark/Saranac Black Forest to your post in another thread. Note that the quotes in beer writer Jack Curtain's Liquid Diet blog that say Black Forest is not the same recipe as that used for Matt's draught-only version of Prior Double Dark are from Fred Matt and from the editor of the industry journal Modern Brewery Age - pretty reliable sources by my way of thinking.

    Also, Curtain quotes former Schmidt's brewer, Bill Moeller, confirming that Prior Double Dark from Schmidt's was adjunct-brewed, whereas Saranac Black Forest is all malt. Matt was brewing both Saranac BF and Prior DD during the same era of the 1990's, when Prior Double Dark was also being sold to McSorley's (and other NYC bars) as their house "Dark" beer and McSorley's was the largest customer of PDD.

    Prior (both a light and dark) began as Czech recipes brewed in the US for the beer importer, Atlantis Imports, by Adam Scheidt Brewing Co., Norristown, PA during WWII (when European beer exports weren't possible). Philadelphia's C. Schmidt's & Sons bought Scheidt in the 1950's and continued to brew the super-premium Prior beers into the 1970's. Around 1980, they re-introduced Prior Double Dark in a new package (and higher price).

    Also, note that the Matt Brewing Co. did not "buy out" C. Schmidt's & Sons - Heileman bought most of the Schmidt's labels but apparently ownership of the Prior brands stayed with them, or, possibly, the original brewer (Scheidt) or master distributor, Atlantis, or some successor company of one of them.

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  3. BigJim5021

    BigJim5021 Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2007 Indiana

    Goddamn. jesskidden, bringing the knowledge as always.

    Speaking of which -- jesskidden -- any clue if the US is ever gonna see Okocim Porter again? I recall you having a lot of info when the brand first got tied up in court by the two importers. Any updates?
  4. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,290) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    St. Killian Importing, the import subsidiary of the large multi-state distributor chain, L. Knife & Sons, lists Okocim Porter as one of their brands on their Okocim page. St. Killian took over importation of the the Carlsberg/Beverage Alliance brands.

    (Note they still list another importer, Stawski, out of Chicago- but Stawski itself no longer mentions Okocim.:confused: )
  5. shawnohall

    shawnohall Aspirant (201) Nov 8, 2009 Texas

    Damn, you need a program to follow who has the rights to brew what; it's like a game of "Who's on first?". Well then, is there a beer out there that would be close to the taste of PDD? Thanks. By the way, that Prior logo looks a lot like the old one for Black label. :slight_smile:
  6. BigJim5021

    BigJim5021 Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2007 Indiana

    Appreciate the info.
  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,290) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I guess you could start with any Czech dark beers on the shelves (not a lot of them, sadly) although IIRC Budvar/Czechvar is now exporting theirs to the US. After that, try some German- or US-brewed schwarzbiers, or US craft beers labeled "dark lager" (again, currently not a real popular style).

    Köstritzer probably the best known and distributed German one - don't know Texas availability for it, or any US craft examples that might be around. Maybe try a post in the regional "Southwest" forum, asking for good schwarzbiers or dark lagers in TX (probably won't do any good to mention Prior Double Dark :wink:).
  8. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,944) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    Czechvar and Kostritzer are great beers, and will get you in the ballpark (a better part of the ballpark, too :wink:), but if you want to try something even closer to the Prior DD you should also give Asahi Kurinoma (Black) a shot.
  9. Rochefort10nh

    Rochefort10nh Savant (908) Sep 30, 2005 New Hampshire

    Agree with the Kostritzer recommendation whole-heartedly. I too enjoyed Prior Double Dark on the occasions I was able to try it. Sam Adams Black Lager might actually be the closest you would find locally. Certainly not an exact match but it has many similarities.
  10. Flashy

    Flashy Zealot (587) Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    so that was/ is? the dark beer we drank so much of at McSorleys?
  11. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,944) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    One more from the "why didn't I think of that earlier" file:
    Shiner Black Lager (Schwartzbier)
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  12. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,290) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Well, some of it might have been... depends on the time frame.:wink: The McSorley's draught beers bounced around a lot from brewery to brewery and the bar itself was often "vague" about it, when asked- IIRC, the last time I checked their website there were some obvious errors about the beers' brewing history, as well.

    Post-Repeal, the ale was brewed by first Fidelio and then by Liebmann/Rheingold until they closed (1977-ish) and then the brand went to first Ortlieb and then Schmidt's. There was a period in there when Stegmaier brewed the "dark" draft (which wasn't a bottled/canned product until much later) - supposedly it was their Porter. Sounds like Matt then picked up the contract for the dark after that, but apparently that started with Schmidt (the original Prior brewery)?

    After Heileman bought the Schmidt's labels, the recipe for the McSorley's Ale was changed and, IIRC, they're the first ones to bottle a McSorley's branded "dark", which has continued with Stroh and Pabst. Sounds like the McSorley's draft beers were after that supplied by the brewery that bottled the beers. As noted in one of those links above, Pabst reformulated both beer recently, with help from their then-partner, Southampton's Phil Markowski.

    Of course, McSorley's is (last I checked) one of the few Pabst-owned brands that isn't contract brewed at MillerCoors facilities, but currently at F. X. Matt - so, one assumes, the draft versions are also being done in Utica (again, in the case of the dark).
  13. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,134) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    TongoRad wins!

    Shiner Bohemian Black Lager is an excellent beer!

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  14. shawnohall

    shawnohall Aspirant (201) Nov 8, 2009 Texas

    Since PDD ended up at one point at McSorley's tavern as McSorley's Dark, I noticed that Pabst sells a beer by the name McSorley's Irish Dark Lager (I think). I thought for a split second that maybe it was the same thing as PDD, but I guess I was grasping at straws.
  15. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,134) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    McSorley's Irish Black Lager - Pabst Brewing Company is characterized as being a Schwarzbier on BA (see below). It reads like a tasty beer. I personally would highly recommend Shiner Bohemian Black Lager to you.


    BA SCORE 80 good
    267 Ratings THE BROS N/A
    rAvg: 3.53
    pDev: 14.16%
    Reviews: 159
    Hads: 108

    Brewed by:
    Pabst Brewing Company
    Illinois, United States

    Style | ABV
    Schwarzbier | 5.50% ABV

    Availability: Year-round. bottle (142), on-tap (17).
  16. shawnohall

    shawnohall Aspirant (201) Nov 8, 2009 Texas

    I'm in Texas, so it should be easy to find.
  17. joeboe2001

    joeboe2001 Initiate (0) Jun 17, 2008 Maryland

    Thanks for the memories. Haven't had a PDD in at least 35 years. Started drinking it when they packaged it as an upscale premium at an intolerable price--probably about $2.79 a six. A little later, they tried selling 4 packs at the same price. One of the highlights of my life was when my wife and I went to a brewers' outlet in PA to pick up a 6 of beer to drink with our picnic lunch, and found cases of PDD for about $5. It was in those glass cans people used to use, and, had I known it was soon to disappear, I would have bought more than one case. We took it with us to the park, and drank a lot more than we had planned that afternoon!

    Gordon Biersche brews a schwarzbier that is very similar--I will likely have one on the way home tonight!!!
  18. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,881) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming

    Yeah, but I like Sprecher Black Bavarian more!
  19. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (573) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    I can remember drinking it in some basement bar in St. Marks Place in Manhattan back in the mid-1980's. Once I enjoyed it so much I forgot to go home and had to go into work without sleeping.
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