Raise a Toast to Dead Beer Brands

Walter’s BeerMissing your old friends in the fridge, or at the beer cooler? It could be that your favorite beer brand is gone. While some brands are making a comeback, other brands are still in the tank, as of 2008.

Fortune magazine’s Beth Kowitt surveyed the top 99 oldest beers in the U.S., according to manufacturer and year of establishment. They turned the list into a handy-dandy interactive list. While many great old brands that one thought might have disappeared are still around (Piels, Hamm, Pearl, Shiner Bock, Tuborg), others have gone away.

Some of the below brands had second lives as discount brews; others just disappeared. Some appear that they might have some potential to be revived, as they are still known by consumers. If any BrandlandUSA readers can help us with other missing beer brands, it would be a big help.

  1. Gettelman, founded 1854
  2. National Premium, 1863. This brand had a life as a discount beer. Natty Bo, they used to call it.
  3. Goebel, 1873, the 22 beer. It had a cult following with a mispronounced name that was meant to make it sound fancy. Folks called it “Tasty Jhoe-Bell.” Really, it didn’t matter that it was tasty ’cause it was cheap!
  4. Walter’s, 1869. This beer company, based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, was started by Johanes (John) Walter in Spencier, Wisconsin.
  5. Wiedemann, 1890
  6. Meister Brau, 1891
  7. Falstaff, 1896. Liked this one. It had a mass following.
  8. Trommer’s, 1896.
  9. Red, White and Blue, 1899. Had a life as a discount beer too.
  10. Weber, 1903
  11. Fox Head 400, 1936
  12. Knickerbocker Dark Beer, 1951. This has some old New York nostalgia, and would be a perfect revival candidate, or at least a good commemorative brew for a Saks Fifth Avenue or Macy’s promotion. Ad courtesy website Skelzie.
  13. Billy Beer, 1977. Would rather not drink this. One brand we don’t want back as it reminds us of Jimmy Carter’s presidency.
  14. Generic Beer, 1977.  Words are not enough.

Other BrandlandUSA posts on old beer and beer branding:

About the Author

  • Garland Pollard is publisher/editor of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website BrandlandUSA.com has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands. He has decades of experience across all media, including newspapers, TV, radio, magazines and the web.

9 Comments


  1. What About Ol’ Tricky-Dick Swell
    Sure Had A Snort/Short Life Span
    Little Less Than Two Terms I Hear.

  2. Amazon has coasters with Besters Beer labels on them. Keep searching google you will find it.
    Besters Beer & Ale

  3. I just saw a different movie with a sreet seen of a tavern that had a “Besters Beer” neon sign. The movie is “Battle Cry” with Van Heflin (1955).

  4. “Natty Bo” refers to National Bohemian – a Baltimore beer.

  5. They are now brewing Duquesne Beer in Pittsburgh again. It will be a regional beer, available (I believe) in August in Pgh area beer distributors and package stores.

  6. i looked on Google news archive search and did not see Bester’s beer anywhere. Perhaps they just invented the name for the movie?

  7. Watched a Joan Crawford movie last night, Flamingo Road. In one of the street scenes a bar/restaurant had a neon sign that read “Bester’s Beer”. Have not been able to find any record of it. Location of the movie was in the South but not a specific state mentioned.


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