Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Some background on Falstaff lager: An American icon that vanished

By William Brand
Tuesday, February 12th, 2008 at 11:15 am in Uncategorized.

A Falstaff magazine ad from the 1950s…find more at…Last night in my post on the Bistro Double IPA fest, I wrote about a brewer and a craft beer fan who always bring cans of Falstaff to the Bistro Double IPA fest for a toast to the past. Here’s some background on poor old Falstaff, taken from a column I wrote in 2004:

A reader, Steven Johnson, asked me what ever happened to Falstaff, a beer he truly loved. I used to like Falstaff too. The first brewery I ever toured was Falstaff in Omaha, NE.
To me, Falstaff was about the same as the other beers available in Omaha in those days (circa 1968), a bit more body than Storz, not as sweet as Country Club Malt Liquor or Coors (which we got in Colorado and Wyoming), not as dry as Budweiser or Hamms.

Wow, what a crappy selection, huh. And homebrewing was still against the law. But researching Falstaff the other day, I discovered this legendary Midwestern lager came to a sad end.

According to a history on a Falstaff fan’s Web site, the company fell from the nation’s third largest brewer in the 1960s with breweries from coast to coast to near anonymity. The assets were purchased in 1977 by a Marin County holding company that also owned the assets of General Brewing (Vancouver, WA), maker of Lucky Lager.

Eventually what was left of Falstaff, General Brewing, Olympia (remember Oly?), Pabst Blue Ribbon and Pearl (Texas), and finally, Stroh’s, were lumped together like cards in a Monopoly game. Most of Falstaff’s brewing equipment was sold to China. The beer is now brewed in La Crosse, WI at the City Brewery _ once a G. Heileman brewery. Whew! American brewing history in a paragraph.

Photo: A magazine ad circa 1960 from the Falstaff fan website

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  • laura

    where can i buy falstaff beer

  • William Brand

    Hi Laura…I’m afraid you’re a few years to late. Falstaff wound up being owned by Pabst. According to the bet info I can find (a Falstaff fan site), Pabst stopped brewing Falstaff in 2005. Check out this link…

    And don’t let anybody tell you Pabst Blue Ribbon is about the same. True, both are light, corn adjunct lagers. But Falstaff’s yeast gave the beer a unique taste. b