After nearly a quarter-century of being brewed in Milwaukee, Old Style is returning to its Wisconsin birthplace, according to Pabst Brewing Co., which now owns the brand.
Beginning in November, Pabst will shift Old Style production to City Brewing in La Crosse.
The beer was launched in 1902 as Old Times Lager by G. Heileman Brewery. Sponsoring the Cubs from the 1950s until 2013 has given the 4.6% ABV pilsner a beloved reputation in Chicago.
Over the years, Heileman had brewed and owned breweries in Milwaukee, including the Indepdendent Milwaukee Brewery (maker of Braumeister) in the 1960s. In 1986 the company built what is now called the 10th Street Brewery, which is owned by Molson Coors and produces primarily Leinenkugel’s beers.
In 2019, Pabst announced that it planned to move most of its production from Miller in Milwaukee to City Brewing by 2024. City Brewing occupies the old Heileman brewery, which it purchased in 1999.
When production of Old Style returns to La Crosse, Pabst will brew up Old Style promotions in area taverns with custom tap handles, bar signs, glassware and other promotional materials, according to a statement released Monday.
It all begins in late September with the World's Largest Six-Pack Pub Crawl in La Crosse – which references the silos in La Crosse that are painted like an Old Style six-pack – during the city’s Oktoberfest.
On this day in 1858, 1 of Wisconsin's best-known breweries, Heileman Brewery, was established. Storage tanks painted to resemble 6-pack of beer - La Crosse landmark. Brewery closed in 1999. Today, it's home to City Brewing Co., https://t.co/CsHM5kPqrP WHI 56388 #wisconsinhistory pic.twitter.com/nQiAQsNcml — WIHistoricalSociety (@WisHistory) November 14, 2019
Then, in November, the giant six-pack will be the site of another celebration.
"We are thrilled to finally bring Old Style home" said Old Style Brand Manger Adam Powers, who some may remember as the general manager of the Captain Pabst Pilot House (now home to Central Waters) in the Brewery District in Milwaukee.
"We're eager to reconnect with the community that nurtured the origins of Old Style, and hope these events will honor the deep history this beer has with the people and culture of La Crosse. It’s time to turn those Old Style signs right side up and cheers its return.”
Other than during Prohibition, Old Style was brewed in La Crosse for nearly a century, until Heileman was purchased first by a private equity firm in 1994 and by Stroh’s two years later.
In 1999, the brewery was sold off in parts to Pabst and Miller. Pabst has kept the brand alive ever since ...
... just not in La Crosse.
"We are always excited to welcome businesses to our fair city and now we can proclaim an enthusiastic ‘cheers’ to a ‘comeback kid,’” said City of La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds. "The homecoming of Old Style is a celebration of our brewing heritage and a testament to the timeless appeal of this beloved beer."
In addition to La Crosse, City Brewing Co. also operates breweries in Latrobe, Pennsylvania; Memphis, Tennessee; and Irwindale, California.
“Old Style will be brewed at the City Brewery facility and we will embrace modern techniques while preserving the traditional craftsmanship that has defined Old Style for generations” added John Kimes, SVP of Brewing Operations for Pabst Brewing Co.
“The brewing operations team has decades of experience and is dedicated to ensuring that each sip delivers the same authentic taste and quality that patrons have come to love.”
In addition to Old Style, Pabst Brewing Company, which contract brews its products, also owns vintage brands like Lone Star, Rainier, Stag, Stroh’s and Old Milwaukee.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.