There are really four beers that set the standard of mass brewing in the United States and created the platform for modern brewing. At one point in time these four beers were the icons of the brewing industry.
A few things they have in common:
- All were founded by German immigrants: Fredrick Miller, Fredrick Pabst, Adolf Coors and Adolphus Busch (son in law of Eberhard Anheuser).
- All four breweries roots are from the late 1800’s, the youngest is Miller High Life.
- All four breweries survived prohibition.
MILLER HIGH LIFE
The original “Champage of Beers” was originally founded and brewed in Milwaukee. Known for its specially shaped bottle and slightly sweeter and effervescent style, Miller High Life was actually the #2 selling beer in the United States in 1979.
PABST BLUE RIBBON
Founded in Chicago by Fredrick Pabst. The brand peaked in the mid 1970’s at around 18 million barrels a year and has seen a comeback in recent years. It was originally called Pabst Select, but changed it named to Pabst Blue Ribbon.
COORS BANQUET BEER
Founded in Golden, Colorado by Adolf Coors. Long known as a regional brew that people would drive cross country to bring it back to their home state. Coors was the first brewery in the United States to use an all aluminum can and still owns the largest aluminum can manufacturer in the world.
The original Budweiser label was the #1 individual selling beer in the world for many years. Founded in St. Louis, Missouri by Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch to form Anheuser Busch Brewing.
The fall of these beers has largely been due to their counterpart “light beers.” As American tastes changed from full flavored lagers to lighter, cleaner brews..these brands have been declining.
Last note of interest, while at one time these breweries were all American owned, none of them are anymore. High Life, Pabst and Coors are owned by SABMiller from South America and headquartered in London. Anheuser Busch was purchased by INBEV from Belgium in 2009 for $52 Billion. INBEV is the largest brewer in the world while SAB Miller is #2.