Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Yes, Virginia, there was a market for "Non-alcoholic" beer before Anheuser-Busch's O'Douls.
"Near beer" was a low-alcoholic (less than 0.5%) malt brew that was the only type of beer allowed to be legally brewed and consumed during Prohibition.
|Goetz' original Near Bear cone top can.|
Many brands came and went. One of the more popular was Goetz Pale Near Beer. Advertised as "Famous for it's Flavor", I remember buying an occasional six-pack back in the 70's and seemed to recall that it wasn't too horribly bad.
M.K. Goetz Brewing Co. was founded in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1859. It was shut down during prohibition, but allowed to brew low-alcohol beer under the law. Goetz went back to regular beer after Prohibition and was well known for its Country Club malt liquor brand. In 1961, Goetz merged with San Antonio's Pearl Brewing Company.
Goetz also brewed Burgermeister, called "Burgie" for short. It was cheap in cost and as a result, a little on the flavor profile, too. But, who's complaining when you had pocket change and wanted a beer?
Other near beers were Kingsbury Brew from G. Heileman Brewing Company, La Crosse, Wisconsin and Jet from United States brewing, Chicago, Illinois, both flat top cans brewed in the 1950's.
So, the next time you crack open an O'Doul's regular or hop-forward Amber, or even a Sharp's, Kaliber or Clausthaler, remember that there is a long tradition of non-alcoholic "near beers" that came before!
And that' it for today's Pop Culture moment!