Schlitz beer (possible sociology question)

At one time Schlitz beer was the #1 beer in the land, possibly in the world. Today hardly anyone drinks it. Very, very few bars even serve it, and many stores don’t even carry it.
So what happened? Did the tastes of the populace change so much that what once was considered great is now called swill, or did it all have to do with better marketing by other beers?

Until someone else answers I can give you some personal Urban Legends.
Right after WWII the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. advertised their product as “less bitter” in an attempt to attract females to the product. It worked!
In 1947 Jos. Schlitz was the world’s top beer producer.
In 1952 Jos. Schlitz produced 6 millions barrels of the stuff.

Now let’s move on to the personal urban legends.
I was told (in college long ago) that the Schlitz brewery was sold to a bunch of bean counters who decided that beer drinkers wouldn’t notice if they (the bean counters) used a cheaper method to brew. The beer drinkers noticed.
Along with pkbites I’m open for education here, too.

I knew this topic sounded familiar, so I did a search. In a thread titled “Why are some beers cheap?” Sofa King wrote the following:

“… Schlitz. Same deal as Ballantine. Once they commanded almost a third of the American Beer market. Changed the formula and lost almost all of the market virtually overnight…”

(Post was edited; other beers were mentioned besides Schlitz.)

Can’t vouch for the truth of SK’s post, but I pass it along in the interest of full disclosure and to prove that I can use the Search feature.

and my dads personal favorite. That guy drank Schlitz like it was going out of style when I was a kid. Then one day, he was ranting and raving about something. Turned out he found out about the change from a pal of his and went out and bought a sixer. There he sat, half empty frosty one sitting in front of him, utter look of hopelessness on his mug. You would have thought that someone had ran over Rosie, our bloodhound.

I tell ya, breaking the old mans heart by taking perfection and making it crap is and was unamerican. It was blue collar beer at its finest and it went the way of the new coke. I heard they turned it back but it was too late. He is a Coors man now.

When did they change it?:confused:

I don’t know why, or when they changed it, but I do know what it looks like under an optical microscope.

Check it out. There are some VERY cool photos here.

What I have heard, by people not much older that I, that during the mid 70’s Schlitz did change the formula so that the brewing process was cheaper and quicker. This was not test marketed or particularly researched.

The beer had noticable flakes in it, as well as affecting one’s digestion system (the Schlitz shits). By the very early 80’s they went back to the traditional beer. Larry Hagman (J.R. of Dallas) was used in commercials, saying “The pride is back.” Unfortunately, the sales never came back.

Didn’t they used to say: Schlitz has gusto!

It broke my heart when they stopped bottling Schlitz in longnecks. What with the demise of the Weidemann hand grenade, my life is very bleak indeed… sigh…

Popular blue-collar beer selection was one of the few things that was still fairly regional in the 1970’s. Pittsburgh had “Arn City”, go up into New York state, and “Genny” held sway in your blue-collar bars. In the west, “Oly” and “Hamms” had their regional strongholds. Schlitz and Pabst were two national blue collar brands that did fairly well, particularly in the midwest. Whatever rumors circulated, I think their decline was mostly due to marketing campaigns by Miller and Anhauser-Busch to dominate the market and push out the smaller players.

In those days, I always maintained that Stroh’s was a good cheap beer, BTW. It was “fire-brewed”, whatever that might mean. Used to come in 8-packs for the same price as 6-packs of other brands.

And Ohio had Blatz … you just gotta love that name.

I have seen Iron City Beer at a couple of trendy clubs down in Houston. I guess they are trying to move into Rolling Rock territory.

Don’t forget, back in the 60’s or so, Schlitz added cobalt to their product to preserve a better head. Unfortunately, this cobalt went right to a few beer drinker’s hearts and caused a nasty cardiomyopathy, that left many crippled or dead. The brewery might have recovered from this debacle, but later brought in efficieny experts who over-ruled the braumeisters, and decided cheaper was better. Schlitz eventually left its home in Milwaukee, and recently the old Schlitz tower was destroyed.

All I can say is “My God you liked this rubbish”. Clearly never visited anywhere with decent beer. Ahhh, Prague.

In Ohio, there once was a great beer, served at Riverfront, home of the Cincinnati Reds. It was called Hudepohl. Alas, it no longer exists. ‘Sam Adams’ bought it out.
Had to find it here!

I’m having a little trouble finding a supporting link for this fairly well-known event, which is unfortunate, because I need to provide some clarification and I feel a little uneasy asking everyone to simply take my word for it.

As I recall, the formula wasn’t exactly changed. Specifically, the lagering time was somewhat reduced, against the recommendations of the brewmeisters. Less lagering time allows for greater production and less storage time. It also requires a lot more filtration, because some of the yeast is still alive and kicking, and it almost certainly alters the flavor.

One of Schlitz’s largest mistakes was the lack of test-marketing. Now, most of the big breweries are very careful about test-marketing products.

Richmond, VA seems to be a popular place to test-market new alchoholic beverages. In the past ten years or so, it has seen some serious gooney-birds: Cool Colt (mint-flavored malt liquor–yes, it did taste like mouthwash), Miller Clear, and the abomination of abominations, IC Tea, a disgusting tea-flavored alcoholic drink from the makers of that other blasphemous monstrosity, Iron City Light.

I heard a massive labor strike is what actually “did in” Schlitz. Any truth?

that tells of the history of such things, including the great Schlitz fiasco and some interesting stories of such things as the first lite beer (Gablinger’s, which tasted “god-awful … so metallic it would set your teeth on edge”). It was authored by the 3rd generation of the Heinieken family and is a really good read (though I listened to it and found it pleasent, it was narrated by the author)
Beer Blast : The Inside Story of the Brewing Industry’s Bizarre Battles for Your Money
by Philip Van Munching

I highly suggest it for any beer lover as it describes many of your favorite beers (and made me mad at Sam Adams- you will figure out why when you read) and is a good read.

Look for it on Amazon

Little off-topic, but I heard that the types of beers mentioned here (sometimes known as “old man beers”) use Formaldehyde in the brewing process. This, I am told, makes one drinking these types of beers either more or less (not sure which) susceptable to hangovers than those drinking other types of beers.

I seem to recall at some point in the 70s (or maybe very early 80s) Schlitz did a sort of last-chance ad campaign where they basically apologized for screwing everything up and televised a series of blind taste tests to demonstrate that the good old Schlitz was back. By then, for all the above-mentioned reasons, they had pretty much lost their customer base and the campaign didn’t work.

Is it even still sold today? I haven’t seen it in a LONG time.

(No irony intended by my sig.)

Not just fire-brewed, but “fire-brewed from Detroit River water”. Makes you want to run out and buy a 6-pack, doesn’t it? We drank a LOT of Strohs in college (Michigan State U.), when Strohs was still brewed in Michigan. It was a decent cheap beer. They were bought out by Coors, and I haven’t had any in years. It’s just not the same without that Detroit River water.

Kevin B.