Premium beer back in the day?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by 19etz55, Aug 15, 2021.

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  1. IKR

    IKR Maven (1,466) May 25, 2010 California

    I would have just said just said ditto to your list except I got to the Coors and Lucky Lager. A couple of friend were trying to drink stealthily on the beach and a cop caught them drinking Lucky Lager. He made them pour it out and snidely said he felt bad about having them pour it out on the sand because even the gophers won't drink that crap!
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  2. TCgenny

    TCgenny Pooh-Bah (2,704) May 26, 2021 New York
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    1988….. and we looked like undesirables, for sure
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  3. DeweyOxberger

    DeweyOxberger Initiate (0) Oct 12, 2011 New York

    Legal in 1978. Michelob was on draft at my favorite waterhole and was one of my top beers consumed. The little pony bottles were the bomb on ice! Grew up in Central NY and we had a local brewer that marketed a Premium. Matt’s Premium! They had a Maximus Super malt liquor that was popular too. Westend Brewing is still around brewing Saranac beer line! Many other forgotten beer legends mentioned here! Great topic!
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  4. Tavernator

    Tavernator Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 New York

    Premium American Pilsner - The Holy Roman Empire of Beers. It is not truly premium, meaning produced from the the best ingredients and using the highest quality brewing techniques. It is not truly American as the style is produced throughout the world. It is not truly a Pilsner, because so many different style variations were subsumed under it. Helles, Dortmunder Export, etc. Classic examples of the style are Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Miller High Life, Coors, Yuengling Premium, and National Bohemian.

    The concept of Super Premium proves the point. How can it be premium if there is a category of beer that is more premium? examples are and were Michelob, Lowenbrau, when brewed by Miller, National Premium, Erlanger, Lord Chesterfield Ale, possibly even imports, like Heineken, but one could argue these are just imports, so a different category,

    Super Premiums usually had a bit more malt and less corn or rice than their Premium brethren. Premium American Pilsner is also arguably the most influential style on the planet, especially when you consider their progeny Light Premium American Pilsner, like Miller Lite, Bud Light and Coors Light, because it is the most commonly sold beer in the world. The style is the the near exclusive style outside of possibly Europe, the US and Canada and the predominate style for those countries. Fortunately, they are not the only style available, unlike almost everywhere in the US in the 1960's through the early 1980's.

    They are a marvel of brewing ingenuity and technology. Light highly quaffable, generally subtle flavor differentiations between brands, and highly consistent quality within a given brand. All great breweries should probably produce their own variation if for no other reason than to have an easy drinking summer beer and to pay tribute to the style that spawned the craft beer revolution by oppressing the market.
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  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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  6. moodenba

    moodenba Pooh-Bah (1,781) Feb 2, 2015 New York
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    The Carling Tuborg(s) were rare, but worth looking for.
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  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Pooh-Bah (2,981) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Another example of the industry use of the "Premium" and "Popular" price segment terminology.

    But I guess such examples are useless today, except to show I'm a 20th century guy, back when such standard definitions were accepted. These days, it appears, everyone get to make up their own definitions, whether it's "premium" "craft" "pilsner" "local", etc. Kinda makes communications and discussions difficult. (I gotta learn how to do that "thumb-typing" on my phone one of these days, too.)
    Gee, Lucky wasn't so Lucky that time...

    Opinions vary about Lucky Lager and the beer itself likely varied during it's lifetime - created in the post-Repeal period but from the late 30s into the mid-50s the master brewer of Lucky was Henry Henius, son of Max Henius, of the Wahl-Henius Institute. (He was also the father-in-law of John Carradine - how Hollywood, huh?). I suspect the beer, the best-selling beer in California at one point, was once a better product than it was when it was a discount brand from S&P Corp.

    And Henius wasn't the only famous person involved with Lucky Lager/General Brewing Corp. - there was Adolphus Busch's grandson and Stevie Nick's father, too - Jess Nicks, president of the General Brewing as well as the California Brewers Association in the 1960s.

    Yeah, Matt's Premium was one of my standard AAL's (originally it was all-malt, but that was before my time) when I lived in NYS in the late 70s and again in the mid-80s, but I only bought it in the brown deposit bottles, not those clear T/A's :grimacing:. The brewery, of course, changed it's name from West End to Matt in the early 80s, and dropped Matt's Premium at some point, too, after the Saranac label took off (and I moved). I was also partial to a couple of other Matt products, their Christmas seasonal Traditional Holiday Beer, and Utica Club Cream Ale, both also defunct.

    Maximus Super was an interesting product (F. X. II himself claimed it was not a malt liquor :grin:):
    when I had a little store in upstate NY I sold a kid (18 y.o., of course) a sixpack - "It's higher in alcohol than beer!" only to have him return 4 cans and exchange them for his "regular" 'cause his older brother couldn't handle it; they usually drank what they and everyone else in the area called "Blue" - Pabst Blue Ribbon.

    Yuengling has moved Chesterfield into a higher price segment in recent years but in the 1970s and 80s, it was priced the same as their other Yuengling beers (pre- Traditional Lager). I recall the first time I purchased it in PA in the mid-70s in deposit bottles it was a buck or two cheaper than premium-priced Ballantine Ale (also deposit bottles). By the time it became easy to find in NJ (in T/A's) in the following decade it was still popular/economy priced - $1 cheaper than Schaefer and Schmidt's, 60% of the price of premium Budweiser.
    #107 jesskidden, Aug 20, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2021
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  8. Naugled

    Naugled Pooh-Bah (1,820) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    I see one mention of Lord Chesterfield, I still enjoy that beer every once in awhile. That was a super premium beer for me in the 80's.

    I see no mention of Genny 12 Horse. That was another treat when I was a young drinker. That one, however, I have not had in decades.
  9. moodenba

    moodenba Pooh-Bah (1,781) Feb 2, 2015 New York
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    Lucky ... In the early 50s we lived a mile from Portland's old "Vaughn Street" ball park, then branded "Lucky Beaver Stadium", and my father took me to a few games. By the time I was of age (1968) Lucky had sunk below the other northwest brews in popularity. I drank it for a while in 70 when I moved to San Diego, maybe because it was the most familiar popular priced beer. We once did a blind tasting of 6 beers. We were pretty accurate but couldn't distinguish "Lucky Draft" from "Coors". IF you liked Coors, you had a popular priced option. Lucky Draft (called Lucky Light in Oregon) was different from Lager, at least initially.

    In about 80, I was on Long Island in NY, at the tenuous end of Yuengling distribution. I asked the Yaphank beer store owner if he could get their Ale or Porter. He took regular trips to "Mr. Kulmbacher", a small distributor in Queens that stocked it. He picked up some cases, priced them with Schmidts equivalent brews. His first order was almost gone by the time I returned a week or so later.
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  10. 19etz55

    19etz55 Savant (1,212) Aug 12, 2007 New Jersey

  11. moodenba

    moodenba Pooh-Bah (1,781) Feb 2, 2015 New York
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    "Home territory: CA, ID, NV, UT, MT, and of course, Vancouver Island . . . . And about that Vancouver thing: the brew has a strong following in the city owing to Lucky's onetime brewery there."
    Not too much research here. Major confusion though. The city Vancouver, BC Canada is not on Vancouver Island, BC. The US city of Vancouver is in Washington near Portland, OR, and there was a Lucky brewery in that Vancouver until about '85.
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  12. Mindcrime1000

    Mindcrime1000 Pooh-Bah (1,769) Apr 30, 2016 South Dakota
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Well, I became "legal" in 1994, so:

    It looks like 1994 was just what I remember--smack-dab in the middle of the American "Ice" "Genuine Draft" and "Dry" era, with the "American Dry Lager" featured as a stand-alone category and PBR Genuine Draft Light clocking in as well.

    I started waiting tables and tending bar a couple of years later and Sam Adams and Kilian's Irish Red were the "upcharge" brews on tap, with Blue Moon in a can (or was it a bottle?) and Murphy's Irish Stout in a CO2-charged can as well.
    #112 Mindcrime1000, Aug 21, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2021
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  13. jesskidden

    jesskidden Pooh-Bah (2,981) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Man, that site is full of errors...:rolling_eyes: just a few of the most glaring:
    Neither is true. Schaefer was never the largest brewery in the US and Anheuser-Busch became the #1 brewer in the US in 1957 passing Schlitz for the final time.
    No, Stroh bought Heileman and they sold the Rainier brand (and many others) to Pabst when they left the industry in 1999.
    Neither malt liquor were traditional Stroh brands, originally coming from National and Associated, respectively, both eventually Heileman brands by the 1970s. Stroh owned them briefly the late 1990s, when they owned Heileman.
    Pearl bought the brand when Jackson closed, and continued to brew and market it into the 1980s, at least.
    The Spoetzl Brewing Co., brewer of Shiner Beer, was purchased by the importer The Gambrinus Company (once one of 2 Corona importers) in 1989.
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  14. moodenba

    moodenba Pooh-Bah (1,781) Feb 2, 2015 New York
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    Glad my comment was limited to geography rather than trying to discuss the genealogy.
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  15. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,291) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    Thrillist needs to use you as their research source. :slight_smile::slight_smile::slight_smile:
  16. slyone5

    slyone5 Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2007 Pennsylvania

    "I prefer Esslinger PREMIUM BEER !! Phila. brew back in the '50's, along with Ballantine (another PREMIUM), and Schmidt's. 3 quarts for $1.05 if I remember correctly - Esslinger, anyway!
  17. LiquidAmber

    LiquidAmber Grand Pooh-Bah (5,298) Feb 20, 2009 Washington
    Pooh-Bah Society

    I went to McGill in Montreal in the 1970s. Canadian beer in general was a revelation to me and my fellow south-of-the-border students. But the first time we had Brador, it was pure luxury. The ABV seemed beyond belief (was it really only 6%?) and it came in a classy bottle with a foil top. Wish I could have a Brador from that time period to see what we were drinking back then.
    Labatt Blue was my go-to beer at the time.
  18. jesskidden

    jesskidden Pooh-Bah (2,981) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    It was nearly "11 per cent" * - I read it in the papers! :grin:
    Oh, wait "11 per cent proof spirits or five per cent alcohol by weight " or, as the label read: 6.2% alc./vol.

    (* At the time, Canada used the "British Proof" - In the U.K., a 100 proof spirit is about 57 percent ABV and the ratio of proof to ABV is 4 to 7. If you multiply the ABV by 1.75, you get the proof.)

    I thought the foil on the then-standard Canadian stubby looked a little silly - when Molson exported it to the US they used the same "Heritage" shaped bottle (above right) as the rest of their US line-up, but switched it to brown glass. (Thus avoiding the "Molson tastes different here than in Canada." effect. "Yeah, 'cause it's not lightstruck from the green bottle up there.")
  19. jesskidden

    jesskidden Pooh-Bah (2,981) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    I gave up on Esslinger after they* fired the bell hop (aka "The Little Man") and replaced him with a !@#$% pirate!
    * Always forget who "they" were - the brand bounced around after Esslinger closed, to Jacob Ruppert > Rheingold > The Lion (above right). I Think it might have actually been the original Philadelphia brewery: "Sorry, buddy, we gotta let you go - we're hemorrhaging money and gotta cut back, especially on long term employees w/high benefit costs that are killin' us. We found some crazy ass guy who'll work for free beer."
    #119 jesskidden, Aug 22, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2021
  20. moodenba

    moodenba Pooh-Bah (1,781) Feb 2, 2015 New York
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    Another reminder that the US is stuck with our impenetrable systems of units. The rest of the world has moved on. In the 70s Canada still had some British units in use then. (Beverage packaging still retains traditional sizes, probably for economic reasons, but is identified in metric.) The US system differs from the British. The US fluid ounce is about 5% larger than the British, still providing a small bonus in a 12 US ounce bottle compared to a Canadian 341 ml package. Pints, quarts and gallons also differ. Don't get me started on weight ounces and pounds (avoirdupois, troy).
    I visited Ontario in the late 70's and preferred Labatt's beers generally over Molson or Carling, but Canadian brews weren't noticeably better than US products. I thought Brador, for example, was not as good as my favorites at the time, Pabst Andeker, Huber Augsburger, or McSorleys Ale.
    #120 moodenba, Aug 22, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2021
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