Beer has come a long way since the first brewery began in the USA. We’ve gone from macro-brewed light lagers to small-batch double dry-hopped IPAs. And with craft beer on the rise, breweries are popping up like Starbucks. Yet without our founders, beer would not be what it is today.
These are the American brands that survived Prohibition, two Worlds Wars, The Great Depression, and are still going strong.
This is a toast to those that fought the hard fight, keeping fresh beer in kegs and cold brews in hands. These are the beers that pioneered history.
Cheers to you, our founding beers.
7. Shiner Beer
First Brewed: 1913
Texans love their BBQ and they love their beer – Shiner Beer, that is.
A big beer from a small town, Shiner is the pride of Texas brews. It’s produced by the oldest independent brewery in Texas, Spoetzl Brewery, and their first brewmaster Kosmos Spoetzl is the man to thank.
Once a brewer for Pyramid Brewing in Egypt, he decided to settle his family in The Lone Star State. With him, he brought a Bavarian beer recipe.
The legacy he left stays true its roots as “every drop of Shiner is brewed in Shiner”.
6. Anchor Steam
First Brewed: 1896
Beyond Anchor Brewing’s turbulent past – brewery fire, death of owner Otto Schnickel Jr. by a street car, Prohibition – it has marked its place in history thanks to its flagship brew, Anchor Steam.
But what is a steam beer, you ask? Steam is a reference to a particular style of brewing. Back before fancy temperature controlled fermenters, primitive conditions were used to cool the beer.
Anchor Brewing cooled their beer by placing it in large vats on the roof. When the cold San Francisco air hit the vats, it created steam. Thus, the trademarked steam beer was born.
5. Ballantine IPA
First Brewed: 1878
If you love hops, you have Ballantine IPA to thank. When most breweries were crafting lighter lagers, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company was going for something a little more hoppy. Their unique use of hop oils and wooden barrel aging gave this IPA a distinct taste that would continue on after prohibition.
Influencing big brewery owners like Fritz Maytag of Anchor Steam – who influenced Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada – this is no small-time brew. Now owned by Pabst, Master Brewer Gregory Deuhs set out to recreate the Ballantine IPA that disappeared in the 1990s. After many experimental batches, Ballantine IPA was re-released in 2014.
So next time you are sipping on a hop bomb, drink to the memory of Ballantine IPA.
First Brewed: 1876
There are two iconic American symbols that go hand in hand – football and Budweiser. Whether you are drinking a Bud or enjoying their commercials, it has America written all over it, literally. Budweiser expressed its patriotic roots by printing America on the can.
A product of Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser began as a new American-style lager created to appeal to the masses. Coined by Adophus Busch, the flagship beer would change both St. Louis and beer.
By joining forces with InBev in 2008, Budweiser is officially owned by the largest brewer in the world. Now that is a pretty big stamp on the ol’ beer timeline.
First Brewed: 1873
Referred to as the “Banquet Beer”, Coors was the preferred choice of hard-working miners. And who could blame them?
“Brewed with pure Rocky Mountain Springwater”, Coors marked its claim on the Rockies. But it wasn’t only taste that was responsible for the Coors legacy – it was the cans.
Doing away with tin, Coors began to package beer in aluminum cans. They even offered a penny per recycled can. Going against the grain, aluminum canned beer caught on and changed the way we drink today.
2. Pabst Blue Ribbon
First Brewed: 1844
Do you ever wonder how PBR got its name?
After winning many awards, blue ribbons were tied around bottle necks. Then in 1893, Pabst Best Select won its first blue ribbon at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. From that point on, beer drinkers knew it as the “blue ribbon” beer.
Unofficially the acclaimed hipster beer of choice, PBR is for both cool kids and diehards alike.
First Brewed: 1829
You can’t talk about the history of American beer without mentioning Yuengling.
The grandaddy of beer, D. G. Yuengling and Sons, Inc. is the oldest operating brewery in America. And believe it or not, it is to this day considered a craft beer. Why wouldn’t it be? There’s history and precision in every single pour.
D. G. Yuengling and Sons, Inc. is still making history as it ranked #1 in USA beer sales in 2015. It looks like the company that began more than 150 years ago is still going strong.
So raise a glass and cheers to your favorite American beer!