Update - 5/10/08 - Update on the FAQs... This is my personal page where I get to show through words and pictures how Falstaff helped your "webguy" to get through life's trials & tribulations.. and give some needed "thank-yous" to the very good people I've met on the highway of life...(despite the various potholes I've hit). I have some FAQ's on the site & Falstaff Beer .
The Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: OK, so how come a guy from Milwaukee is doing a web site on a St. Louis brewery?
A: I went to college at Indiana University back in the mid 70s. It was a "21" state (you could still drink at 18/19 in other states), so it was difficult (read impossible) to find someplace to have a beer when you weren't quite of age. We found a little workin' man's joint on the west side of Bloomington called the Sunset Bar that maybe wasn't quite as careful as they ought to be about checking IDs. The bar maid, Lois, told us "Boys, if you're old enough to fight, then you're old enough to drink". ( the very elegant Sunset Bar today - now called the 11th Street Bar)
The Sunset was a rough n' tumble kind of place with outlaw country music on the jukebox (Take this Job & Shove It...) and three (count 'em) beers: 'City, 'Staff, & 'Ribbon (Falls City, Falstaff, & PBR). I was kind of a long hair back then so to reduce my chances of getting the tar beat out of me I got a John Deere hat and tried to fit in. It was just great being able to drink in a real live bar at 19. I developed a real liking for this little honky-tonk and Falstaff beer though our nights out at the Sunset eventually came to an end. One night one of my friends started mouthing off a mite too much about the weight of one of the patrons & we were kindly requested by the "reglars" to move our "long haired college boy butts" outside or face a permanent rearranging of our faces. Because there was a whole lot of them and only a few of us, we did a quick calculation of the odds (knew that Statistics course would come in handy some day) and did a quick "exit stage left" which explains why I still have all of my teeth. And that was the end of that! But it started my love affair with Staff and City.
Q: Why did Pabst pull the plug on Falstaff?
A: The sales volume had gotten to the point where it was no longer viable to sell the brand. I am sure there are minimum orders on the Falstaff cans and packaging, and sales weren't enough to keep the brand in production. Pabst's management decided that Falstaff was no longer "a strategic brand" some years ago, that's why there hasn't been any promotional items like T shirts produced in a number of years.
Q: Is the Falstaff brand for sale now that it is no longer being produced by Pabst?
A; Originally I had heard that Pabst was only offering their brands as a package. But now it appears they are considering selling or licensing the brands one by one. They have already released Augsburger and Narragansett.I heard there are a couple of groups currently in discussion with Pabst to purchase the brand. If someone does bring it back, I hope they go back to the 60s / 70s formula and packaging.
I used to really quite carry a torch for Linda...
Q: Why did Falstaff Brewing itself go under?
A: It was a combination of things. The Falstaff breweries were very small, old, and inefficient. Falstaff never built any new plants, just purchased existing ones that already were probably outdated and ready to close. The Bud plant in Houston alone had more brewing capacity than all of the Falstaff plants put together.
Second, as I mentioned above, Falstaff lost the youth market a long, long time ago. When I started drinking Falstaff in 1974, I was one of the few people my age drinking it back then. Most everyone else who drank 'Staff was at least 10 years older than I was. Falstaff did not do the on-campus promotions to college students ( who, by the way, could not drink legally) nor come up with a cute comic book character like Spuds MacKenzie (which, like Joe Camel, was aimed at kids). Most young people now know what beer they "like" years before they even start drinking due to the influence of advertising. Bill Coors said it was the "marketing visigoths" that destroyed our brewing industry.
Third, the purchase of the Ballantine labels and distribution organization was a very costly mistake that caused them to run out of cash. Falstaff hemorrhaged millions of dollars trying to enter the NYC beer market.
In addition, Falstaff was a "popular priced" brand beer so generated less revenue & income per barrel sold than "premium" brands like Bud or Miller. As their brand image continued to decline in the market due to a lack of advertising, they had to reduce their selling price even further to maintain volume. This put a major squeeze on margins which made them easy pickings for an asset stripper like Kalmanovitz. Could you imagine how much money you could make if you could take over Bud, and cut the selling and advertising budget (0ver $300 million last year) to zero? All those bucks would go straight into your pocket. When the volume declined too much we could just close the brewery, take the depreciation as a write off, and then sell the equipment to thirsty Chinese. That's what Mr. Paul did. It made him $400 million. (hey, I used to be a product manager so know this stuff)
Finally, most Americans just really do not like the taste of beer. Not convinced? Try a Warsteiner, Pilsener Urquell, Kilkenny's, Boddington's or any other European or even Asian beer before you have a MGD or Bud Lite. Falstaff had a bitter finish (Carling even more so) well into the mid 1980s, which caught them out of step with the changing tastes of Joe Six Pack. The largest selling beer in the country now is Bud Light, which qualifies as a 3.2 beer. (Hmmm....so you have to drink more cans of beer to get the same buzz as before, this sounds like a sneaky way to increase sales.) I think it's interesting to note the THC content of marijuana (the chemical that makes you "high") has been increasing over the years, while the alcohol content of beer has been decreasing. Guess beer drinkers enjoy visiting the rest room....
Q: So wasn't Falstaff kind of a "redneck" beer?
A: When I was living in Indiana, Falstaff was the Outlaw Beer. The kind of folks who drank it were the guys you see getting busted on "Cops"; that never wear shirts and have implements of destruction tucked in their waistbands. If you ordered Falstaff in a bar people pretty much left you alone 'cause they figured you'd done time in prison.J But I remember when I was working in south Louisiana in the 1970s and ordered Falstaff in a bar just outside of Baton Rouge. One of the other patrons said in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear : "Don't it just kinda go to figure that a dadgumb Yankee would order a Falstaff....". At that time Schlitz and Dixie were the "white" beers and Falstaff and Jax shared the "black" market. I was lucky I didn't end up swinging from a cypress tree! Since everyone now drinks either Bud or Miller, I guess those kinds of color lines don't exist any more.
Q: So why did you quit updating the site?
A: There wasn't much more to say after Pabst stop brewing Falstaff, and I have been working on this for a decade now. I just kind of ran out of information and ideas, and it was time to give it a rest.
In memory of my great-great Uncle Thomas U. Smallshaw killed in the last days of the Civil War fighting with the 100th Regiment N.Y. State Volunteers ~ battle of Fort Gregg, April 2, 1865. He lies in an unmarked grave with many other brave soldiers from the Army of the Potomac and Army of Northern Virginia
SPECIAL MEGA THANKS!!!!!
When I started this over many, many years ago, I had no idea that I would get so much help from fellow Falstaff fans (in fact I thought I was the only one left!). I would like to sincerely thank : Richie Artzberger, Bill Baburek of the Crescent Moon Ale House, John Barrett, George Bova, Seth Chazanoff, Tom Clark, Robert Crais fan Sheila Crossley (who likes both Falstaff AND Thin Lizzy! Thanks for the cool Robert Crais hat!), Steve DeBellis, Dan Diana, mega cool human being and former Falstaff employee Robert Ebert, guitar goddess Mara Fox, Larry Faucheux, Joel E. Gandt, former Falstaff employee Joe Garland, Brian Geldmacher, Marc Gottfried of the Morgan St. Brewery, Ricky Graham, Tom Grimaldi, Mike Guye, Jim Haertel of Brew City Developments LLC, Michael Harris, Sen. Bob Hedlund, thanks for the CARE packages, Steve Hoylman, Mike Hudson, Bob Kay, Mike Killian, Kevin Kious, Greg Leatherman, Joe Light, Rob Lloyd , Beck Martin, Gains McDonald, Mr. Falstaff himself -Bryan D. Monaco, Michael "Mr. XXX" Newman, Robert Newman of Pabst, former Plant 7 employee Derek Oltman, Michael Ostrofsky, Ron Pozin, Falstaff's best unpaid salesman Rich Probst, Donald Roussin (who has the most amazing Falstaff collection), Clayton Schlemeier, Larry Schroeder from the Windy City, Charlie "CBL" Smigo, Michael Stanich, Mr. Southern Select - Ralph Stenzel, Cornhusker Bob Teter, artist FranCisco Vargas Stephen Walker, "Mr. Drewery's "Wes Weaver (thanks for some excellent times in Mishawaka), and Jeff Wilson up in the Texas panhandle for the information and photos on the history of Falstaff. You guys have restored my faith in America! Thanks also to Robert Gurley, the webmaster at Pabst Brewing, for his support in putting this together and to the Griesedieck family for never compromising quality. I also really do appreciate everyone who has taken the time to visit & write. After six years I only have received two nasty emails! Y'all made the (unpaid!!)J effort worthwhile.