St Louis, Omaha, New Orleans, Galveston, El Paso, Ft Wayne, San Jose, San Francisco, Cranston, RI
1793 - Johann Adam Lemp is born in Gruningen, Hessen, which is later part of central Germany
1836 - (Johann) Adam Lemp sails to America to seek his fortune in Cincinnati, OH
1838 - Adam Lemp arrives in St. Louis and starts a grocery. He begins brewing Lager beer as a sideline; at the top most St Louis breweries brewed top fermented ales
1840 - Adam Lemp establishes the Western Brewing Co. in order to brew lager beer for the large German immigrant population in St. Louis. The natural cave system below St Louis provided the perfect temperature for aging beer. He installs 20 thirty barrel oak casks in the caves to store the beer. Initial capacity of the brewery was only 100 bbl per year and it was located on 112 S. Second street. The buildings were eventually torn down to make way for the famous St. Louis arch.
Adam Lemp - Lemp family scans thanks to Joe Light
1850 - Due to heavy immigration from Germany, the number of breweries continues to grow and now numbers 431
1858 - Lemp beers take first prize in the annual St. Louis fair
1860 - Lager beer begins to dominate sales in St Louis, there are forty breweries in town and Lemp is one of the largest. Son William begins his own brewery with Wilhelm Stumpf.
1862 - Adam Lemp dies leaving a large estate, his funeral procession requires 30 horses. Lemp's son William replaces him as president. William had also been born in Germany, but was brought to St. Louis by his father was he was 12. During the War Between the States, William also serves in the Civil Guards on the Union side. He had tried to join the Union Army but was mustered out as he was barely 5 feet 1 inch tall.
1864 - William J. Lemp builds new brewery, Lemp's Western Brewery at Cherokee Street. He chose this location due to the caves which was located just below the site, which allowed them to age (lager) the beer. This eliminated the need to transport the beer from the brewery. Ice was cut from the Mississippi River to maintain a cool temperature during the hot summer months. During the first year 3000 barrels of beer were stored here. The original capacity was 12,000 bottles per day. This massive complex is still standing and can be seen on the Plant Photos page.
1870 - The Lemp Brewery is now the largest of the 30 breweries in St Louis while at the same time several members of the Griesedieck family arrive from Stromberg, Germany and embark on careers in brewing. Anton Griesedieck opens a brewery in St.Louis and his son Joseph "Papa Joe" Griesedieck enrolls in the United States Brewing Academy (This is why the Falstaff cans used to say "since 1870") .
1873 - The number of breweries in the USA reaches its peak with 4131
1874 - The Women's Christian Temperance Union is founded and America begins its long march to Prohibition
1876 - Lemp beers win awards the the World Expo in Philadelphia, the Lemp Brewery is now the 19th largest in the country.
1877 - Lemp production is listed as 61,229 bbl
1878- Lemp beers are featured at the Paris World Expo - Lemp adds the first artificial refrigeration equipment at a brewery in the USA. Production now reaches 100,000 bbl per year due to the fact the lagering in caves is no longer required.
1879 - Lemp is now the 10th largest brewery in the US, ahead of Anheuser-Busch, but smaller than P Ballantine & Sons of Newark, NJ who Falstaff will later acquire
1889 - A British syndicate attempts to purchase Lemp, but their offer is turned down. Around this time, Lemp launches his own railway company, the Western Cable Railway Company.
(Scan thanks to Joel Gandt- click on thumb to view full size)
1890 - Lemp Brewing becomes the first to distribute nationally. 500 refrigerated (by ice) railroad cars are used, and the brewery employs 700 men. Over 100 horses are required to pull the 40 delivery wagons for local deliveries. Lemp is now the 8th largest beer maker in the country, producing 500,000 bbl per year. Eventually the beer will also be sold in South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
1891 - "Papa Joe" Griesedieck opens the National Brewery in St. Louis, which later merges into the Independent Breweries Co. but goes bankrupt due to high overheads. I.B.C. does became famous later for their root beer, which is still sold today (it is often featured at Walmart stores). The I.B.C. brand is owned by Dr. Pepper / Seven Up Inc., a division of Cadbury-Schwepps plc.
1892 - Western Brewery incorporates, & becomes William J. Lemp Brewing Co. Lemp's sons Louis and William Jr. become accomplished horsemen.
(thumbnail thanks to Joel Gandt)
1893 - Lemp beers win awards at the Chicago World's Expo.(but Pabst takes the grand prize and becomes "Blue Ribbon")
1895 - William Lemp joins forces with Adolphus Busch to form the Galveston Brewing Company in Galveston, TX. This brewery would be purchased by Falstaff Brewing Corp some 60 years later.....Lemp production hits the 300,000 bbl / year mark, putting them in 8th place.
1896 - Lemp introduces the Falstaff shield trademark to protect his brand from imitators. The official story is that the design for the shield was derived from an artist's paint pallet.
1897 - Hilda Lemp marries Gustav Pabst of Pabst Brewing Co. & unites two of the two largest brewing families in America
1899 - William Jr. marries Lillian Handlan, the daughter of a wealthy St Louis manufacturer and the very first Flastaff brand beer appears in June.
1901- Frederick Lemp, the 4th oldest son & heir apparent to replace William Lemp, dies under mysterious circumstances. One story was that he had basically worked himself to death at the brewery. His father takes the news very badly, and starts to withdraw from public life. Eventually, he only walks to the brewery in the cave complex below rather than using the streets above. Lemp Brewing sues the Western Brewery of Belleville, IL for using a Lemp like shield. (Western was purchased by another branch of the Griesedieck family in 1912 and by Carling in 1954. For more details, see the Carling page...)
Lemp family mausoleum - St Louis
1903 - Lemp Brewing registers the Falstaff trademark & logo. Lemp thought the Shakespearean character of Sir John Falstaff represented the more positive social aspects of drinking, rather than the destructive consequences of over consumption emphasized by prohibitionists. Sir John was a "man's man" who's philosophy was to "eat drink & be merry" and his sense of good fun was tempered by an exceptional intellect According to the company's profile, Sir John was beset by no frustrations, fears, or problems of protocol.
1904 - William J. Lemp Sr. commits suicide over the premature loss of his favorite son & his close friend "Captain" Frederick Pabst of Milwaukee brewing fame. He shoots himself in the head with a .38 in an upstairs bedroom of his mansion. He was 67 years old and this is the first of many suicides to befall the Lemp family. His son, Wm. J Lemp Jr., assumes control of the company. It is now the fourth largest brewer in the country. Lemp, A-B, & Bernard Griesedieck beers are featured at the St. Louis World Expo. (for a poster from the expo, go to the More Photos page) (bottle scan thanks to Joel Gandt - a similar logo was used by Falstaff after Prohibition but without "Lemp")
(William Lemp Jr. thanks again to Joe Light)
1909 - A major scandal hits the Lemp family as William Jr. divorces his wife Lillian aka "The Lavender Lady" (after her favorite color). Lillian accuses her husband of adultery and killing cats for fun (both of which he denies). He countercharged that his wife had been seen smoking and drinking in public. Divorce was granted, and William Jr. remarried in 1915.
1911 - The last major expansion to the brewery takes place. The family, their vast fortune already made, begins to lose interest in the business. Seeing Prohibition looming on the horizon, they introduce Cerva, a near beer, but sales never are sufficient to cover the overheads of the plant (much of the sentiment driving Prohibition were anti-German attitudes relating to the first World War)
1912 - Falstaff becomes the first beer to be delivered by air - Tony Janus attempts delivery a case of Falstaff from St Louis in a Benoist type aircraft to the mayor of New Orleans. Unfortunately Mr. Janus enjoys the Falstaff too much, and the mayor has to accept a case of empties....
1916 - Charlie Chaplin appears in a short where he enters a saloon with two large Lemp shields on the door -
(thumbnail thanks to Joel Gandt)
1917 - The Griesedieck family purchase the property of Forest Park Brewing and form the Griesedieck Beverage Company. This later becomes Plant 1. "Papa Joe" Griesedieck is named as President. The small company has one 125 barrel brewkettle and a capacity of only 100,000 barrels per year, of which only 10,000 barrels could be stored at a time. The Griesedieck family described it "more like a coffee mill than a brewery" due to its very small capacity. The fact that anyone would buy a brewery now that 5 states had already gone "dry" was incredible, all the major brewers are experimenting with "near beers" to survive the coming storm.
1918 - Lemp brewery ceases beer production & operations are closed without any warning as Prohibition looms. Hundreds of workers at the brewery are thrown out of work.
1919 - PROHIBITION BEGINS WITH THE VOLSTEAD ACT (18th Amendment). Greisedieck Beverage company launches a near beer named HEK, which is named after a cereal beverage the Egyptians brewed in 1500 B.C.
1920 - HEK sales are not enough to keep the company afloat and Griesedieck Beverage Co. goes into receivership. But Joe Griesedieck does not given up. He purchases the Falstaff Trademark from the Lemp family for only $25K. He manages to arrange financing and buys the company back from the receivers. The company is renamed as the Falstaff Corporation. They survive by selling near beer, & soda. A new stock house and fermenting cellar are added, these buildings still stand. Elsa Lemp Wright, one of the wealthiest women in St. Louis, and William Jr.'s sister, commits suicide. She was only 36. Scan thanks to "Beer USA" by Will Anderson
1922 -Original Lemp brewery buildings, once valued at $7 Million, are sold to International Shoe for just $588,000, 55 year old William J. Lemp, Jr. commits suicide in their mansion shooting himself in the chest over the collapse of the business. (So Prohibition caused honest men to commit suicide, thousands of brewery workers lost their jobs, and made gangsters like Al Capone and Bugsy Siegal rich...hmmmm) The Griesediecks purchase a de-alcoholizing unit expand production of near beer. The products have been reformulated to take a "spike" of grain alcohol and turn the "near beer" into the real thing, after some successes by Goetz Brewing in St.Joseph, MO. They launch Falstaff Special, Falstaff Pale, and Falstaff Super X.
1923 - In an attempt to bolster Falstaff's sagging fortunes, a portion of the plant is equipped to cure and smoke hams and bacon, and for a time the products found a ready market in St. Louis. The operations took advantage of the refrigeration units in the brewery. With rising pork prices and dwindling profits, the project was eventually abandoned.
1925 - Falstaff launches a "Dublin Stout", a dark and heavy cereal beverage. This leads to some legal complications and Falstaff is forced to change labels on the product.
1926 Polish immigrant Paul Kalmanovitz arrives penniless in America....(uh-oh)
1930s - seeing that Prohibition was coming to an end, "Papa Joe" Griesedieck makes a serious attempt to buy or lease the former Griesedieck - Western Brewery in Belleview, IL. He is concerned that the Forest Park brewery is too small to meet anticipated demand (he was right!). The former Western brewery only has its ice business, but the deal is nixed due to lack of support from H.L. Griesedieck Sr. and difficulties to fund the project. The famous Stag brewery eventually ends up in the hands of Carling (see Carling page).
1933 - PROHIBITION ENDS Falstaff Corporation becomes the Falstaff Brewing Corporation and is granted Federal Permit Number 1 to resume brewing beer. Huge crowds gather on the front lawn outside the brewery on April 7 hoping to get a case of beer and the police have to be called in to control the mob. Some Falstaff employees worked 48 hours without sleep to keep up with the demand. Sales the first year were 150,000 barrels and totally outstripped production capacity. A second plant, the old Otto Stiefel plant, is leased to keep up with demand. This plant had been started in 1898 and made oleo margarine during Prohibition. It was located on the coreners of Gravois and Michigan in St Louis. (Side note: Otto Stiefel also committed suicide over the loss of his business to Prohibition in 1920. So many brewers took their lives that this became known as the "Dutch (Deutsch) Act") This becomes plant 2. Otto's son Carl is retained as plant manager and 60,000 bbl of Falstaff are brewed the first year. Falstaff issues stock which raises $1 million for additional capacity and plant expansion.
The original post-Prohibition logo, used until 1940
Falstaff kept their brewer's yeast alive during prohibition, and later insured it with Lloyd's of London for over $1 million to ensure its famous flavor. Falstaff's near beer was also easy to "spike" with alcohol, making the transition to real beer relatively easy. Other near beer products tasted terrible when straight alcohol was added (perhaps including another St Louis brand....)
Papa Joe gets Federal Permit #1 beating out those guys with the talking lizards....
1934- Falstaff is sold at Sportsman's Park, home of the St. Louis Browns
1935 - Falstaff leases, & later purchases the Fred Krug Brewing Co. of Omaha, NE and becomes the first brewer to operate in two different states. Albert Krug, a relative to the Griesediecks by marriage, was in financial trouble, and Falstaff was looking for a way to support beer sales into Nebraska. This becomes plant 3. This move debunked the myth at the time that the same beer could not be produced in different plants. The secret to Falstaff's success was rigid controls on the brewing process in Omaha, a procedure that was eventually copied by the other national brewers. Paul and Lydia Kalmanovitz moved to California, and purchase a filling station where Lydia pumps gas..........
Shot by Don Solo from the Beer History site. (Click on the link to see the rest of the pictures).
1936 - Falstaff purchases National Brewing Co. of New Orleans for $543,700 after first considering the Jackson Brewing Company (Jax) and Gulf Brewing of Houston, owned by a certain Howard Hughes. Both are rejected as the production capacity is fully utilized with house brands. This becomes plant 4.
1937 - While the New Orleans brewery is being refurbished, Falstaff send barges of its premium "Winter" beer to New Orleans and sells it below cost at "popular prices". It reduced Falstaff's profit margins but the market for Falstaff had already been created in Louisiana before the plant opened.
1938 - "Papa" Joseph Griesedieck dies, & is replaced by Alvin Griesedieck as President of Falstaff
1939-Wm. Lemp III attempts to reintroduce Lemp Beer, brewed by Central Brewing in East St. Louis, IL. The enterprise fails in just a few months. Lemp Beer will return some 50 years later....
1941 - Baseball legend Dizzy Dean begins broadcasting St. Louis Cardinals & Browns games on the radio for Falstaff. When criticized by the St. Louis Board of Education for his poor English he says "Let the teachers teach English, I'll teach Baseball." See below: Diz is in the middle with legends Bob Feller & Herb Score
1943- William Lemp III dies of a heart attack aged 42 (younger than me at present!) Sales of Falstaff begin to level off, but start to increase again after the end of WW II.
1944 Falstaff purchase plant two from the Stifel family, which they had been leasing. It is now brewing 300,000 bbl per year.
1945 - Thanks to brisk sales in the south, Falstaff expands the New Orleans plant. They add a new bottle shop, office, stock house, and two new warehouses.
1947 - Demand for Falstaff again exceeds supply, so Falstaff add an eight story addition onto New Orleans. The new space contains two extra bottling lines, storage space and additional cooling filtration and aging equipment. (Hard to believe that Falstaff is not even sold in Louisiana today)
1948- Falstaff purchases of the Colombia Brewery, which becomes plant 5, in St. Louis and becomes listed on the New York Stock Exchange. This company had been opened in 1892 at the corners of 20th and Madison Streets in St Louis. In 1906 it had merged with the Independent Breweries Company, which also had been part of the Griesedieck's first brewing enterprise. It was the showcase brewery for Falstaff, and tours were held at this plant, not plants one or two. The Colombia brewery in East St Louis (which brewed Lemp Beer in 1939), which produces Falstaff for a short period of time, is closed. The buildings are sold for a mere $35,000. The East St Louis site was torn down to make way for a Sears store, which later because the offices of the public schools. Falstaff also move their headquarters to the Continental Bank Building in St Louis.
1949 -Charles Lemp commits suicide with a .38 Colt Revolver as more tragedy strikes this family. Charles never married and grew more and more reclusive as he became older. He was deathly afraid of germs and took to wearing gloves to protect himself. Falstaff approach Carling in Cleveland to purchase this troubled company, but no agreement is signed
1950s -Falstaff production reaches 2,286,702 barrels/yr., making it the seventh largest brewer in the country. Paul Kalmanovitz acquires the 102 Brewery in Los Angeles in a real estate swap and enters the brewing industry.....
Falstaff sponsors country music star Hank Thompson on tour, the first brewing company to do so. Thompson was one of the first performers to also use stage lighting. . There are now only 407 breweries in the USA.
1951 Falstaff executives get the surprise of their lives on "Falstaff Day" when St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck stages a show at a double-header celebrating 50 years of the American League & Falstaff Beer. 18,000 fans crowded into the stadium and were all given Falstaff salt and pepper shakers. A large birthday cake is wheeled onto the field by an actor dressed as Sir John Falstaff and out jumps 3' 7" 65 lb. dwarf Eddie Gaedel wearing number 1/8, who then pinch hits for Frank Saucier.
As his "strike zone" is only 1/2" ,Gaedel draws a walk, and is replaced by a pinch runner, and becomes the shortest player to appear in a game. The crowd, feeling no pain thanks to the Falstaff, absolutely love it and give Eddie a standing ovation. Frank Saucier, on the other hand, was so upset about being replaced by Eddie that he resigned from professional baseball at the end of the season and never played again. More about Bill Veeck later....
1951 Plant number 2, the old Otto Stiefel Union Brewery, is closed after plant 5 was expanded. Most of #2 is torn down in 1957. (scan thanks again to Joel Gandt)
1952 - Falstaff purchase the San Jose Plant from Pacific Brewing and Malting, this becomes plant 6. The plant formerly brewed Wieland's Beer. This brewery was started in 1856 and had contract brewed beer after Prohibition. Unlike its other expansions, Falstaff had never sold beer in California before. It was a small plant, only 100,000 bbl capacity. Brew kettles were removed from plant two and sent to San Jose. Falstaff also adds a new bottling line to plant one. Falstaff change their logo (below) - there is a pic of Sir John on the side of the cans from this era.
1953 - Falstaff purchases Berghoff Brewing Co. of Ft. Wayne, In which becomes plant 7. This adds over 1 million barrels in additional capacity with this brewery which had been founded in 1887. The original Berghoff label first goes to Walter Brewing in Pueblo, CO (see Walter's page) and is now still brewed by Jos. Huber Brewing Co. of Monroe, WI (see links page) (the Berghoff family also owned a famous restaurant in Chicago, which is still there...) Country singing legend Hank Williams dies at the age of 29 after drinking a couple of bottles of Falstaff beer on the way to a concert (which is not to say that drinking Falstaff can be fatal...) Falstaff ends up in court in Illinois as a customer in East St. Louis finds a "rubber" floating in his bottle of beer. The case is Heimsoth vs. Falstaff. Falstaff becomes the number five brewer in the state of California and nationwide. Plant two in St. Louis is sold for $224,613 and will be torn down four years later to make way for a car dealership. Falstaff had over $6 million in the bank in cash.
1955 - Falstaff purchases Galveston-Houston Breweries of Galveston and Harry Mitchell Brewing (for more info just click!) in El Paso, operating two breweries in the state of Texas. The Galveston site was begun in 1895 and adds 450,000 bbl capacity to Falstaff. Previous brands in Galveston were Southern Select, High Grade, and XXX Root Beer. These become plants 8 and 9. Falstaff is now the 4th largest brewer inAmerica with sales of 3,652,000 bbl and close to overtaking P Ballantine & Sons for the third spot -
(Southern Select scan thanks to conetop.com - for more on this brewery, please clicking on "Working for Falstaff" page & the new Galveston brewery tour page)
The Falstaff Bowling Team is lead to numerous national titles over the next four years by Carl Richard, who is later elected to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. Falstaff sponsored teams also win big in Chicagoland.
1956 The Falstaff bowling team takes the state championship in Illinois and again in 1957. The company that never built a brewery (only purchased existing ones) begins breaking ground on a new headquarters at 5050 Oakland Ave in St Louis. Falstaff would use this office until 1975.
1957 - Merger with the Griesedieck Bros. Brewing Company, owned by their cousins. Their brand is nicknamed "Slippery Richard" by its fans . The former GB brewery in St. Louis becomes Plant 10. Brewing at plant 10 was begun in 1856 by William Stumph, who eventually teamed up with William J Lemp (of Falstaff fame!). In 1877 Aton Griesedieck purchased the plant and it went through another series of owners before the Griesedieck Bros. purchased the plant in 1910 and ran it for 47 years. The plant added 1 million bbl in production capacity for Falstaff. (Photo of Galveston team thanks to Tom Clark)
1958 -The original brewery, Plant No. 1 (Forest Park), is closed following consolidation of the assets of Griesedieck Bros. Brewing. Falstaff tries to purchase the struggling Brew 102 brewery from Paul Kalmanovitz. "You'd better sell or we will bury you" one Falstaff exec was quoted as saying. Mr. Paul refuses the offer. Hopefully this exec was not still with the company twenty years later to see what will happen.....logo is changed
So how many of these brewing companies are still left......
1960s Falstaff production reaches 4,915,000 barrels per year making it the third largest brewer in America, this is the highest position they will ever achieve
1960 - An expansion of the Galveston brewery is started. Plant 10 in St. Louis adds new bottle and canning equipment. Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese continue to be Falstaff's spokesmen for the TV "Game of the Week" The Chicago Cardinals football team move to St. Louis with assistance from Falstaff.
1961 - Alvin Griesedieck dies, & is replaced by Joseph Griesedieck as President. (above: Joseph, Alvin, & Falstaff exec Harvey Beffa meeting in 1953).- Falstaff enters the malting business by purchasing operations on the south side of Chicago from Albert Schwill & Company. This becomes plant 11. Falstaff also begins merger negotiations with Miller Brewing Company, which fall through when Miller insists the HQ be moved to Milwaukee The same year, hurricane Carla hits Galveston. The Griesedieck family loads up the company plane with essentials to help stricken employees including a Kansas City steak dinner for everyone and, most importantly, cases of the world's finest beer. St Louis Browns player Eddie Gaedel also passes away, age 36. As a sad footnote, his mother is later swindled out of the uniform and bat he used on his major league appearance by an obsessed collector of baseball memorabilia - I guess there are just sorry people everywhere.
1963 -Falstaff and Reynolds Aluminum introduce the Falstaff Tapper, a small keg which can hold about a case of beer. The tapper proved to be a marketing success but financial failure for Falstaff as the containers were not returned in sufficient quantities to recover the cost of manufacturing them. The same problem will lead to the elimination of returnable bottles by many brewers. Falstaff sells $181,245,000 this year which is 5,548,218 bbls. Falstaff sells the former plant one, most of which is still standing. Falstaff begins ot import Amstel Beer from Holland.
1964 - Falstaff open America's first, and only, museum dedicated entirely to the brewing industry. Housed in St. Louis, the museum features exhibits dating back to the earliest days of commercial brewing in the USA. Sales increase to $211,943,253, a $11 million increase from the previous year. Plants 10, 4, 7, and 3 are modernized. The plant 10 modernization includes the first use of outdoor storage tanks by a major U.S. Brewery. Falstaff's chemists and brewmasters play with a continuous brewing process (eliminating aging), as does Carling and Schlitz, but abandons the project without success. The "Man Sized Pleasure" campaign is introduced and a hospitality center opened at the Omaha plant. Falstaff completes the purchase of the Ft. Wayne brewery, which had been leased from Berghoff Brewing. NASCAR great Glenn "Fireball" Roberts dies at age 35 on July 2 just six weeks after suffering burns in a horrific crash at the World 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Roberts had just signed a contract to promote Falstaff Beer.....Logo is changed again, the famous "Lion's Head" remains until 1969
1965 Falstaff acquires Narragansett Brewing of Cranston, R.I., the largest brewery in New England, from Rudolf Haffenreffer along with the Narragansett & Krueger brands. The plant had started business in 1888 and was a strong seller in the Northeast, though its brands were under attack from the national brewers. Falstaff maintains the original brands, which is a departure in strategy for them. Previous house brands of acquired breweries were dropped. The company is sold for $17 million in cash and $2 million in stock and employs 850 workers. The state of Rhode Island then files an anti-trust suit against Falstaff which goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and is finally settled in Falstaff's favor in 1973. The legal costs, unfortunately, leave the company short of cash. (Ever hear that joke, what do you call 1000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea?) With the Narragansett brands also come those of the G. Krueger Brewing Co. of Newark . Krueger was famous for being the first brewer to sell beer in cans. Falstaff also launch a draft beer in cans, which does not fare well
1966 - Falstaff sales peak at 7,010,218 bbl. The company's revenues are $250,892,397 with a profit of $4,362,138.
(Shot of Cranston brewkettles above thanks to Tom Clark & advertising piece to Bob Hedlund). More on Gansett here
1967 - El Paso brewery is closed The reason for its closure was production was geared primarily for returnables and keg beer, and consumption was switching to throw away bottles and cans, which Galveston was better equipped to provide. With a capacity of only 200,000 barrels, it was Falstaff's smallest brewery. The antiquated plant five (formerly Columbia / Alpen Brau) in Saint Louis is also closed. This plant only produced bottles and had an annual capacity of 500,000 bbl per year. Falstaff's fortunes begin to wane, sales are down to 6,631,082 bbl and they report a loss of $633,525 on operations. Feed mill operations purchased in La Grange, TX. Galveston employees rally to help thousands displaced by Hurrican Beuluh. Rock supergroup Cream, featuring guitar legend Eric Clapton, record a one minute radio spot for Falstaff. Falstaff launches its "Thirst Slaker" campaign, featuring ads in Playboy magazine. This same year, St. Louis mayor Al Cervantes must intervene on Joe Griesedieck's behalf to ensure Falstaff, which is the #1 beer in Saint Louis, is sold along Michelob at Lambert Field. Gussie Busch thows an absolute fit and refuses to speak to Cervantes again. A-B is later sued by Pearl, Rheingold and Grain Belt in Federal Court for similar anti-competitive practices and is indicted in 1934, 1942, & 1977 by the SEC & US Justice Department for trade violations. Jos. Schlitz was also indicted for using the same tactics against local and regional brewers.
1968 - Case sales of Falstaff in their home town of St Louis are nearly 50% higher than rival Budweiser(Thumbnail of the Galveston bottle house in the 1960s thanks to Tom Clark).
1969 - New logo launched - variations in use until 1979. Falstaff builds a small can fabrication plant in conjunction with Continental Can company in Galveston. The S.S. Milwaukee is launched from the Quincy shipyards. Milwaukee Mayor Henry Meier is on hand to see the christening of the vessel, and asks if the boat can be sent out in a tide of beer, as a tribute to our city's fine tradition. After it is determined that 68 million quarts will be required to accomplish the minimum depth of 20 feet to float the vessel, a band is brought in instead and plays the "Hi Neighbor, Have a 'Gansett" theme. Meier, who has never heard of Narragansett Beer, completely misses the point...Beat writer Jack Kerouac succumbs to the effects of alcoholism at the age of 47. Rumors have it his last meal was a can of tuna, some whiskey, and cans of Falstaff.....(this will probably be your webguy's last meal as well)
1970s - Falstaff begins to slide; sales only reach 6,000,000 barrels with 3,000 employees and over 6000 shareholders. It is sold at more than 232,000 retail outlets through 700 distributors, but drops to #6. Falstaff begins negotiations to sell the firm to Pet Milk, which fall through when Pet insists the Griesediecks resign. Falstaff appoints black distributors for St. Louis and northern Louisiana, which leads to a white backlash in the bayou state. White drinkers flock to Schlitz and Dixie, but the loss of sales is compensated by support from the NAACP and black community. A bold move by the company to say the least. Kalmanovitz purchases Lucky Lager, and forms General Brewing. The last remaining Lemp, Edwin dies at age 90, leaving no heirs
Harry Caray becomes sportscaster for the Chicago White Sox and is sponsored by Falstaff. He previously had called the Cards games since 1944 for Griesedieck Bros. Brewing. His "Holy Cow! Have another Falstaff, folks!" becomes famous. At one point there was even a walking "Harry's Holy Cow" that strolled through the stadium with the Falstaff logo on his chest. Harry stays with the Sox and Falstaff from '71 to '81, turning Comisky Park into "the world's largest outdoor saloon". Sadly, a change in Sox ownership from eccentric Bill Veeck to more "responsible" parties prompts a defection to Bud & the Cubs. For more information on the Harry Caray / White Sox connection, click here). There are now only 107 breweries left in the USA.
(Thumb of Harry & Falstaff cups below from I Remember Harry Caray by Rich Wolfe & George Castle.). Sox scan thanks to D'Arcy Ballinger
1970 - Falstaff finally becomes a national brewer when it enters Pennsylvania. They also sponsor the pace car at the Daytona 500
1971 -Paul Kalmanovitz also acquires controlling interest in General Brewing of San Francisco and Vancouver, WA from Labatt of Canada. General's most popular brand is the very tasty Lucky Lager.
Griesedieck Hall at St Louis University is named for the famous brewing family
1972 -Falstaff purchase the old Burgermeister brewery in San Francisco from bankrupt Meister Brau of Chicago. Before it was owned by Meister Brau, this was also a Schlitz brewery for seven years and had a history dating back to 1868 Falstaff also purchases the brands of the closed P.Ballantine of Newark,NJ for $4 million in cash, .50 per barrel for six years and $1.1 million over the next six years. Founded in 1840, Ballantine's sales were in a steady decline from a peak of 4.4 million in 1964, by the early 70s they were now only 2.2 million. This proves to be a major mistake for Falstaff, who are hoping to enter the NYC market. Losses over the next four years following the Ballantine purchase are $22 million.
With Ballantine also comes the brands of the closed Christian Fiegenspan brewery of Newark, NJ. The main brand acquired is Munich beer. In order to stop the corporate bleeding, Joeseph E. Griesedieck is voted out as President and replaced by Fred Gutting.
1973 - San Jose is closed and production moved to S.F. The plant was just too small and real estate too expensive to provide for any expansion. The plant had 168 employees at its closing. Falstaff Beer is the eighth most popular brand in the country. Falstaff launches "Griesedieck Malt Liquor" which probably does not succeed because nobody can pronounce the name- Jerry Jeff Walker releases the country LP "Viva Terlingua" with a mention of Falstaff in the classic "Up Against the Wall, Redneck". This tune was also covered by Bobby Bare on "Cowboys & Daddies". Confederate Railroad also mention Falstaff in their song, "Redneck Rodeo",. Falstaff turns up later in the movies "Jaws" & "Mississippi Burning", & the script of "Apocalypse Now". (It appears also in "My Own Private Idaho" but I do NOT really recommend this flick due to controversial subject matter!) Falstaff launches its last big ad campaign "Because We're All in the Together" with bumbling cowboys Gabe & Walker, featuring actor Sam Elliot. (see if you can spot the case of Falstaff near Jerry Jeff..)
1974 - In need of cash, Falstaff sell the San Francisco brewery to Paul Kalmanovitz's General Brewing (S&P Corp). Falstaff offers Kalmanovitz a sizable amount of stock as an incentive to purchase the brewery, which will contract brew Falstaff for the West Coast. Although Kalmanovitz now owns the SF brewery, he continues to brew Falstaff under contract from his General Brewing Corporation. Falstaff close the Ballantine distribution center but are required to make $1M in lease payments until 1980. The "Falstaff Fillies" dance team debuts for San Antonio Spurs basketball games. This same year, I see Gabe & Walker on TV & am convinced to have my very first Falstaff beer-- the seeds are planted for the creation of this website.
Three pics of the elusive Mr. Kalmanovitz - scans one and two thanks to Bryan Monaco - sketch from Wall Street Journal thanks to Robert Hedlund - Kalmanovitz did not like getting his picture taken after he was pistol whipped in an armed robbery in the 1950s
1975 - Facing an inability to meet its payroll and with mounting debts,Paul Kalmanovitz offers to infuse $20 million into the failing company. The company issues 100,000 shares of preferred stock to him and on April 28th, he gains controlling interest in the company. Kalmanovitz, known as "Mr. Paul", is so dreaded in the brewing industry that St. Louis employees fly the American flag upside down and at half-mast after the takeover. He makes a speech on April 28th that there will not be any changes (where have I heard that before?) but by May 4th, Kalmanovitz assumes control of the company and dismisses Greisedieck, the Beffas, and sales manager Charles Dephendahl. By June most of the 175 corporate office employees are fired, some of whose severance checks bounced. St. Louis general offices as well as the famous museum are closed and advertising budget cut to almost nothing. Kalmanovitz moves his base of operation to Corte Madero, CA. He keeps the stein collection from the museum, but many other items are just dumped. Fortunately, some resourceful area collectors manage to track these items down and they are salvaged. Sales begin to decline. Due to numerous lawsuits filed by shareholders and fired employees, Falstaff stock is removed from the NYSE and has to be traded over-the-counter. The San Francisco plant is leased back to Kalmanovitz who operates it as a General Brewing plant. Kalmanovitz tries to get out of Falstaff's 99 year lease on the center field billboard at Busch stadium. When this fails, he paints the sign sky blue with the following in big black letters: "Why buy Budweiser when Falstaff is a Better Buy?". Anheuser-Busch buys out their contract a short time later . A well and truly strange guy, Kalmanovitz thought nothing of throwing hundreds of brewery workers out onto the streets, cutting off their pension and health benefits & then turning around and giving a new Rolls -Royce to his favored staff.... Forbes Magazine said "Kalmanovitz went through Falstaff like Grant through Richmond....he took no prisoners". Falstaff sponsor the Indy 500.
1976 Marvin Margolies, a holder of 4900 shares in Falstaff, files a $35M suit against Kalmanovitz on behalf of all Falstaff shareholders. The suit charges Kalmanovitz with a violation of Federal Security laws, and alleges that Kalmanovitz planned to merge Falstaff with General Brewing all along, and move the HQ to San Francisco. This left shareholders with only a small fraction of the $8.44 book value per share. At least four other suits were filed against Mr. Paul who also started litigation against his creditors and banks. The end result, however, is that Falstaff posts a $1.7M profit for the first quarter, vs. a $500K loss the previous year. Falstaff change their can design to honor the Bicentennial (which I thought looked totally goofy and started drinking Falls City) sales drop almost 20% in a single year Kalmanovitz offers to put up $15 million for the construction of a "Statue of Justice" just off the coast of San Francisco, the statue was to be the same size as the Statue of Liberty in NYC (too bad he didn't offer to put this money into his business.....) The crunch begins as sales fall and the 1,500,000 bbl capacity Ft Wayne flagship only operates at 60%.
1977 All remaining St. Louis brewing operations are closed in November. Production is moved to Ft Wayne, which was only operating at 60% of capacity. The SEC charges that Falstaff's 1975 proxy statement had camouflaged the fact that Mr. Kalmanovitz's investment in Falstaff in effect gave him control of the company. The SEC charged this provided shareholders with false and misleading information. Kalmanovitz was enjoined from committing further securities laws violations. Falstaff appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court and lost.
1978 - San Francisco is closed for good. The brewery is torn down and becomes a Costco parking lot. Kalmanovitz slashes the maintenance budgets for his plants, and they struggle to keep up production. New Orleans is closed after a lengthy strike in December. The sad story has it that Pinkerton security guards marched the employees out of the plant at noon, leaving lunches, drinks, etc. to sit for years right where they had been left in mid-meal . Some former female employees wrote Falstaff to try and retrieve their purses, as they had not been allowed to take anything with them when the plant was closed. Pearl Brewing and Falstaff form a dubious "joint venture" which is basically a shell game and tax dodge since Kalmanovitz owns both.
1979 - Falstaff ends up in court again as they are sued by the former shareholders of Ballantine for breach of contract. The case goes to the court as Bloor v. Falstaff. The case is decided against Falstaff, who were supposed to pay a royalty on the future sales of Ballantine products, but failed to advertise, sell, or promote the beer leading to a dramatic drop in sales for the brands. Kalmanovitz described his marketing strategy as "We sell beer and you pay for it....we sell beer F.O.B. the brewery. You come and get it." They are fined $1.3 million and the judges describe Kalmanovitz's management style as "Profit Uber Alles". (which is pretty ironic considering Mr. Paul was Jewish....)
1980 - Falstaff has now dropped to the #9 position with 3,901,000 barrels sold. Kalmanovitz loses again in court in a case he brought against Falstaff's creditors & former executives. According to the Wall Street Journal of 4/7/83, the court was "scathing" in its assessment of Kalmanovitz's legal antics. The days also look numbered at Cranston, S&P buys 41 acres of land from Falstaff in a land swap, and gets agreement that the first 100,000 barrels produced will be tax exempt. But due to high energy costs and antiquated equipment, the beer from Cranston costs $7 / barrel vs. $3 / barrel at Ft Wayne. (Shot of the New Orleans brew kettles from Brewed in America by Stanley Baron). New logo introduced (until present time). Former VP of Sales Charles Dependahl files suit against Falstaff reference the life insurance program, but the suit is denied by the courts.
1981 Galveston is closed. The equipment was later sent to Pearl Brewing in San Antonio & China. Just before the plant closed, employees chipped in and bought Kalmanovitz a microwave, which they were hoping would create havoc with his pacemaker (LOL!) Falstaff is now brewed at the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio for the Texas market. Malting operations in Chicago are also closed. Cranston is closed temporarily after labor problems and a lock-out of the 350 employees. An attempt was made to save the brewery by converting it from oil to gas, but the local gas utility refused to comply with supply guarantees Falstaff was looking for. Production is shifted to Ft. Wayne, but long time 'Gansett drinkers complained about the change in taste. Falstaff is also successfully sued by Miller Brewing to stop the sale of "Falstaff Lite". This product is re-released as "Falstaff Light". Omaha is closed temporarily as Nebraska's Liquor Control commission ruled that the production of private label supermarket beer there is illegal. Mr. Paul takes out newspaper ads which lead to a public outcry and the law is changed....Rumors abound that Ft Wayne will close as well, but K takes out newspapers ads declaring his commitment to Ft Wayne and adds 150 jobs there as production is shifted from Cranston & Omaha.
1982 - With Ft Wayne running at full capacity, Kalmanovitz makes a run at Pabst, offering to purchase 4.15 million shares at $32.00 each. Irwin "The Liquidator" Jacobs also puts together his own buy-out plan, after successfully tearing apart the old Grain Belt brewery in an asset stripping scheme. Pabst is given a new lease on life from the sharks with a friendly offer from Russell Cleary of G Heileman, who offers to purchase 5.6 million shares. Kalmanovitz and Jacobs launch a number of lawsuits to block the deal, but they are thrown out of court. Pabst arranges an asset swap for the shares, including the old Blitz Weinhard plant in Oregon and its brands (including Henry Weinhards and Old English 800 Malt Liquor), the brewery in Pabst (Perry), GA and the Lone Star Brewery and brands in San Antonio. In another strange move, Kalmanovitz, who has slashed brewery advertising down to nothing, takes out full page ads in major newspapers with an open letter to the President of the USA. He demands an investment tax credit for all American made trucks and automobiles to save American manufacturing jobs. (Funny, he doesn't seem so concerned about saving the jobs in his own breweries.) The San Francisco Business Journal runs a story saying Falstaff Brewing will be liquidated, which Kalmanovitz denies .....(for more on Mr. Cleary, head over to the Carling page - he is a hero to the city of La Crosse, WI and to those of us who love the brewing industry)(scan of the familiar Gansett sign from Beers of North America by Bill Yenne 1990 edition)
1983 Cranston, R.I. is closed permanently after a brief re-start producing only keg beer. In another shadowy move, the brewery is taken over by Pearl Brewing. This was basically a ploy to avoid paying severances to the laid-off workers. The beer produced never reached the market. 46 tons of brewing equipment was removed to send to China, buildings demolished in 1997. The land is sold for $2.9 Million. Sales and marketing expenses for Falstaff are now $7 Million, as compared to $30 Million before the takeover. Profits climb (with tax write offs) to $2.9 million vs. $1.2 million in '81. (Compare this to the multi million dollar losses during the Greisedieck years) The St. Louis headquarters are sold for $10 million and later becomes the site of the St. Louis Science Museum.
1984 Beer sales from the once mighty Falstaff Brewing Corporation continue to crash, from 6,000,000 bbl in 1974 to only 900,000 bbl in '84. The end is only six years away......Kalmanovitz begins to consolidate production in Ft Wayne, and adds 150 new jobs to that brewery. Falstaff launches some specialty beers including M*A*S*H 4077 Beer, Polska Piwo and the famous white generic "BEER" brand. The ad slogan was "BEER, ask for it by name"
1985 Falstaff shipments drop 70 % over the last ten years and Omaha is closed, and the buildings are later torn down in 1997. Omaha had a capacity of 700,000 bbl per year and consisted of 19 buildings on an 11 acre site. Mr. Paul completes his acquisition of Pabst Brewing for $63 million. The die is cast for the city of Milwaukee to end its rein as "The City That Means Beer" as he begins his plan to "maximize shareholder value".... (or in plain English "if you work there, you are probably going to get laid off, hoss...") Kalmanovitz attempts to close the Ft Wayne brewery and consolidate production at Pearl in San Antonio, but their largest customer, Best Brands, files a $52 million suit against S&P. They try to recover damages for the $2 increase in freight costs to ship the beer from Texas to New York. As a result, Ft Wayne remains open. The former headquarters are sold to the city of St Louis for $1,980,000. Pearl Brewing officially announces they will no longer try to reopen the Cranston facility. (Thumb of the demolition of Narragansett from the ABA Journal - see Links page)
1986 Maverick baseball club owner Bill Veeck, who had a long association with Falstaff passes away. His son said of his father: "Bill Veeck was born on the right side of the tracks. And as soon as he was capable, dragged himself to the other side," Miller Brewing attempts to purchase the Galveston site, but is turned down. Seems like Mr. Paul does not want to give additional capacity to his competitors, and prefers the tax write-off. Sales fell $11,500,000 vs. the previous year, a fall of 22.3%. The company is crashing. (because of this, your webguy moves from Texas to England. OK, maybe a job transfer had something to do with this move...). Production is increased at the Fort Wayne facility from 488,500 to 564,000 bbl as production is transferred to their "least inefficient" brewery to lower costs. The company nets $2 million on the sale of the former Saint Louis office building. Lutz Issleib, 43, is named Chairman and President of Falstaff Brewing Corp. He is also named President of Pabst having previously served as President of Pearl. Equipment is bought and sold between Pabst, Falstaff, and Pearl in all kinds of inter company transactions.
1987 Paul Kalmanovitz dies, leaving a personal estate valued at $400M. This is willed into trust after the death of his wife Lydia, which is disputed in probate by distant relatives of the Kalmanovitzes. The mirror wills created by the Kalmanovitzes are alleged to have been created just to avoid paying estate taxes. Relatives also file a suit alleging insurance fraud by Mr. Paul. The suit claims that he buried $10 million in jewels in Poland prior to leaving the country, filed an insurance claim on the jewels which paid out $1 million, and then returned to Poland in 1948 and dug them out of the ground. The library at the University of California @ SF is named for the Kalmanovtizes after a large donation as is a heart research center in Texas. (Which begs the ethical question, is a donation of a library to a university a greater good than the continued livelihoods and pensions of 3,000 Falstaff employees? You decide....) (below the Kalmanovitz library and grave in California) Work begins to turn plant 5 in St Louis into apartments. The bottle shops are torn down. Falstaff's sales are down 17% vs. the previous year. Distributor Best Brands files a $45 million suit against Falstaff, which goes against the brewery but is later reversed on appeal. Best Brands had alleged price gouging from Falstaff. Falstaff was also involved in litigation from a stockholder reference the divergence of company funds to pay for the Pabst take over as well as the City of Saint Louis. The lawyers have a field day.
There is also a story floating around the brewing industry that executives of the Kalmanovitz foundation are required to meet regularly at his graveside....creepy....
1988 Steve DeBellis reintroduces Lemp Beer, which is brewed by the Evansville Brewery in Evansville, IN. When Evansville Brewing fails, production is contracted to Pittsburgh Brewing Company.
1990 The last remaining brewery, Ft. Wayne is closed and is later torn down and an era comes to a close . The last 202 employees are let go, though Falstaff retains a small sales office in Ft.Wayne that is also shut down in the late 1990s. Falstaff continues to be brewed in San Antonio and other locations by Pabst, including Milwaukee for a brief time. Falstaff drops to #10 in the country but will soon completely disappear from the radar. Labatt's of Canada offers to purchase the Ft Wayne site, but this offer is rejected by S&P. The former headquarters are torn down to make way for the St Louis Science Center. More tragedy hits, this time at the old Falstaff grain elevators on the south side of Chicago. Ignoring their parents' warnings not to go there, 10 year old Ricky Rodriguez falls to his death while playing in plant 11 near Chicago. Ricky was bouncing on conveyor belts in the plant with two other boys when he fell through a 3 x 5 foot hole which was used as as inspection port at the top of the silo. The others, afraid to tell the authorities what has happened, says the boy has been kidnapped. Ricky's body is found five months later when one of the older boys has nightmares about the accident and finally tells his girlfriend what has happened. Community pressure builds and the site is finally torn down. Ft Wayne Brewkettles - thanks to Tom Clark
1992 - Unable to sell the Omaha plant as a going concern Pabst / S&P begin to dismantle the plant and send the equipment to China so that folks in the Peoples' Republic can get "PBR'd ASAP" too
1993 -During the spring seven young people disappear at different times around the old Lemp brewery. None of them are ever found again and the mystery is called the "Lemp abductions"
1995 - The Kalmanovitz Trust is estimated to be worth $1.2 billion
1996 - Missouri born singer Sheyrl Crow releases her first CD which includes the hit "A Change", which mentions Falstaff beer - Falstaff beer celebrates its 100th anniversary. S&P finally closes the flagship Pabst brewery in Milwaukee, citing high costs and an unwillingness of the Union to negotiate. Milwaukee loses its position as the Beer Capitol of America after 156 years to St. Louis ( but whoever heard of a beer called "Old St Louis" or "The Beer That Made St Louis Famous")....UAW Brewery Workers Local #9 calls for a boycott of Pabst products, and sales in the Milwaukee area immediately drop 19%. Pabst / S&P close the sales office at the Ft Wayne brewery, and the last vestige of the Falstaff Brewing Corporation goes into history
Sheyrl Crow live at Milwaukee Summerfest 2002
1997- Falstaff ends up in court yet again sued by Bay Apartment Communities for contamination left at the former San Jose site (for pics of these apartments go to the Brewery Photo page). Pabst terminates all health and insurance benefits for laid-off Pabst workers which is challenged in the courts. The courts rule in favor of Pabst. Falstaff wins a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival for "Laser Malt Liquor" (?) After letting the plant deteriorate for 20 years, Falstaff sells plant 10 (ex-Griesediek Bros.) in St Louis to a local businessman. The wrecking balls hits Omaha, but the owner of the wrecking crew is a beer fan and allows Falstaff fans to run amok and retrieve goodies before the plant comes down for good. The offices and warehouse space remain.
1998 - Now classified as a "brownfield site", the city of Ft. Wayne purchases the former brewery site for $225,000. Galveston is also listed as brownfield site by the Feds. S&P tears down warehouse four, the grainery and keg house and sells it to Bersinger Warehouse Co. for $228,000. Bersinger is currently renovating the site. (Seems like that wanted to keep the old breweries as a tax write-off, they were never offered for sale until many years after they had been closed). Cranston is demolished, only leaving the trolley barn. S&P also sell the New Orleans site, which is turned into a steel fabrication yard.
1999 - Pabst is awarded nine gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival for its beers and is named "Large Brewing Company of the Year".... Conservative columunist George Will states "I was a member of the Falstaff generation, & that ain't Shakespere!" when asked by Sam Donaldson if he ever used illegal drugs in the 60s. Carl Haffenreffer, formerly President of Narragansett Brewing dies at age 92. This website, which contained only four pages, goes on line in August with its totally clueless webmaster at the controls. He gets the idea to do it on one of his 30 hour flights over to Southeast Asia. Country humorist Cledus T. Judd releases the CD "Juddmental" with the tune "Hillbilly Honeymoon" which mentions the "punch bowl flowed with Falstaff beer" Sounds like a heck of a good time to me...
2000 - Sales of Falstaff Beer are only 27,947 barrels, a drop in the bucket so to speak compared to Anheuser-Busch's sales of 91,000,000 barrels. Pabst's sales decline 19.7% overall to 10,800,000 bbl. Pabst decides to wind down operations at Pearl in San Antonio and Falstaff production is shifted under contract to Miller in Ft. Worth. The remnants of the Ft Wayne site are sold by the city for a mere $150,000. Nearly 400 tons of garbage and bottles needs to be removed from the site. After learning about the interest of collectors for Falstaff advertising (through this site!), the city organizes a charity day with radio station WOWO where, for any donation, collectors can go through the plant and haul out memorabilia. Nearly $2500 is raised and a lot of stuff destined for the landfills ends up in people's basements instead (to the disgust of many a wife I am sure...). The Kalmanovitz Charitable Trust is granted ownership of Pabst Brewing but courts order the trust to divest itself of the brewing activities by 2004....
2001 Falstaff sales fall to a tiny 20,000 bbl per year and Pabst sales overall decline an estimated 7.4% vs. 2000 to 10 million bbl. Their share is estimated to be less than 2% of the total US beer market. In their bid to become a "virtual brewer" (i.e. without actually owning a brewery themselves), Pabst / S&P close down Pearl in San Antonio. Later that year Pabst sell their last brewery in Lehigh Valley, PA (the former Schaefer / Stroh plant) to Guinness. Most Pabst products (including Falstaff) are contract brewed by Miller in Milwaukee, Trenton, OH and Ft Worth, TX. Pabst is forced to issue a public apology for an ad campaign by their licensee in China Noble Brewing celebrating the "liberation" of Tibet by communist Chinese forces in 1951. City fathers of Cranston meet to try and turn the trolley barn of the Narragansett Brewery into a retail shopping space. The massive collection of priceless beer steins owned by the estate of Paul Kalmanovitz and formerly at the Falstaff and Pabst brewing museums, goes on the block at Sotheby's. (This reminds me of that Christian bumper sticker "He who dies with the most toys....still dies") In case you are still keeping track - there are something like 1,147 breweries in the US, down from a peak of 1,376 in 1998. Not as many as in 1873 but a whole lot better than the early 1980s when it was might slim pickin's for beer fans.
2002 - The Falstaff brewing contract is shifted from Miller to City Brewing (the former G Heileman plant) in La Crosse, WI. Some former Falstaff brands are still contracted to Miller in Eden, NC (Ballantine Ale) and to the Lion Brewery (Haffenreffer Private Stock Malt Liquor)
2003 - Falstaff sales continue to decline and it disappears from a number of states due to higher freight costs shipping from City in Wisconsin vs. Miller in Texas. The venerable Narragansett brand, is dropped from Pabst's portfolio. It was almost 120 years old. To comply with a court order that a charity cannot be in the brewing business, Pabst is offered up for sale.
2004 - Official figures are not available from Pabst, but sales of Falstaff Beer continue their downward slide. This despite this highly entertaining and informative website Lemp Beer is reintroduced to Saint Louis & Plant 2 in Saint Louis is converted into the Clowder House, a home for stray cats.
2005 - 4/15/05 Pabst announces it will no longer produce Falstaff beer due to low production volume. Sales of the brand in 2004 were only 1468 bbl. And so it goes...
06/04/2013 Some eight years after of its final production run, Falstaff was spotted on the shelf of Otto's Beer Depot in scenic Cedarburg, WI. I drove to confirm this after receiving a tip from Brett Boesel. (Thanks, Brett!)
A number of Falstaff fans wrote Pabst to see if the brew was back in production but their official position was that they didn't have any plans to brew Falstaff again in the short term. However, they had recently filed a trademark renewal for Falstaff and in order to validate this they must show usage of that trademark. So they probably made a minimum batch, and somehow a a couple of cases ended up in Cedarburg, WI. I don't know if it was sold elsewhere, there are rumors that it might be back in 2014, we'll see.
A good deal of that Falstaff ended up in the back of D'Arcy Ballinger's car, destined to be consumed in the Land of Lincoln....
Resting place of "Papa Joe" with a copy of The Falstaff Story - Photo Courtesy of Joe Light
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