The 70th anniversary of the repeal of National Prohibition last April brought to mind a long-time collecting friend from the St. Louis area. Henry Herbst collects items pertaining to breweries celebrating particular milestones. Among his collection are a great number of cans, coasters, glassware and other items issued by breweries to toast the passing of time. Some examples follow.
When our country was celebrating its bicentennial, Anheuser-Busch was celebrating its centennial.
In 1942 the F & M Schaefer Brewery celebrated its 100th anniversary with a commemorative book, along with coasters, glassware, and engraved plaques that were awarded to employees, taverns, retailers and wholesalers. In 1992 the Stroh Brewery, which owned Schaefer, recognized the 150-year milestone on its can and bottle labels.
When Pabst Brewing Co. turned 100 in 1944, it issued few items because this was during World War II. I know only of a coaster. But when Pabst turned 125 in 1969, it promoted this milestone with a number of items including a historical booklet, bottle labels and coasters. It issued a commemorative stein when the Pabst Blue Ribbon brand turned 100 in 1993.
Joseph Schlitz, the beer that made Milwaukee famous, marked 1949, its 100th year of brewing, with a number of regional celebrations at its Brown Bottle Rooms operated around the country. When Joseph Schlitz turned 125 in 1974, a great ceramic decanter was issued featuring a gowned fairy-like woman sitting on a globe.
Coors turned 100 years old in 1973. At this time, the Coors brews were not distributed nationally, but they were strong in the West, especially in Colorado where there was a great deal of fanfare. The Coors ceramics division issued a number of 100th anniversary items.
When our country was celebrating its bicentennial in 1976, Anheuser-Busch was celebrating its centennial. A-B’s commemorative items included a series of trays decorated with graphics from its past 100 years of advertising. Mugs, steins, coasters, and many other forms of advertising also celebrated their 100 years of brewing.
In 2003 Genesee marked 125 years with a commemorative issue of six cans featuring past labels. These cans were mixed in their multi-can packs, encouraging you to collect all six.
Many former breweries like Falstaff, Ballantine, Stroh, Pearl, Stoney’s, Hudepohl, Lone Star, Falls City, Sterling, Drewry’s and countless others had reason to brag about 50, 75 and even 100 years of brewing heritage. In 1961 the Pittsburgh Brewing Co. issued gold-painted bottles to salute 100 years of operation. In 2001 they issued a 5-liter can to celebrate 140 years, and in 2003, they issued a 25-year commemorative can for their I. C. Light brand.
The brewery that has reason to boast the most seems to be Yuengling. This Pottsville, PA, brewery is America’s oldest, founded in 1829. Yuengling commemorates its anniversary each year on its bottles and cans.
Microbreweries have also boasted a number of landmarks. In 2003 Mendocino Brewery promoted 20 years of brewing bliss with Raptor, a commemorative brew. And Avery of Boulder released a commemorative brew known as TEN. This special brew was created from 10 grains and 10 hop varieties, finishing at 10 percent alcohol by volume. Catamount of Vermont in 1997 created a special 10th anniversary brew as well.
Bridgeport brewing in 1999 celebrated 15 years in operation with a commemorative logo on bottles, coasters, business cards and other forms of advertising. Redhook, Grant’s, Water Street of Milwaukee and many others have proudly celebrated their years of success.
As the early microbrewers mature into regional success stories, we can count on the continued annual commemorations of 10, 15, 20, and years beyond.