Whatever Happened to Schlitz Beer?

2 years ago

Schlitz is not only a well-known old Milwaukee beer; it's the beer that made Milwaukee a beer town. Schlitz beer got its start in 1848 in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, tavern brewery owned by August Krug. In 1850, Krug hired Joseph Schlitz as a bookkeeper, and then Schlitz took over as brewery manager when Krug died in 1856. Two years later, Schlitz married Anna Maria Krug, August Krug's widow, and changed the name of the brewery to the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company.

In 1902, Schlitz produced one million barrels of beer, making it the largest brewery in the country. The brewery's namesake beer, an American-style lager, was known as "the beer that made Milwaukee famous."

During prohibition the company was forced to change its name from the Schlitz Brewing Company to the Schlitz Beverage Company and changed "beer" to "drink" in its famous slogan.

In the 1950s a slew of bad decisions help lead to the downfall of the American beer company. First, the brewery cut costs by starting to swap in cheaper ingredients including corn syrup for malted barley and hop pellets for fresh hops. Other brewmasters accused the Milwaukee brewery as serving "green beer".

The accusation was founded in truth. The brewery didn't age its beers for as long as other breweries. For that reason, the brewery added silica gel to the beer to keep it from getting hazy when it was chilled. There was a concern that beer makers would be required to list all ingredients on the bottles and beer cans, which would have shown a clear difference between Schlitz and its competitors.

Then the Schlitz brand added a different stabilizer which caused white flakes to show up in the beer bottles. When Miller released Miller Lite, the Schlitz brewery responded with Schlitz Light beer in 1976, but the new beer wasn't a hit with customers.

On top of that, the brand's advertising was seen as aggressive. A boxer asked "You want to take away my gusto?" when offered a chance to swap Schlitz for another beer; consumers found the ad somewhat threatening and sales continued to fall.

Thanks so Pabst Brewing Company and their ability to rediscover the beer formula, the beer is still being produced in small quantities.

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