Falstaff!

The Falstaff Brewing Corporation was a major American brand headquartered in  Saint Louis. It started out with the Lemp Brewery in the 1830s.  One account has it that the company was renamed after a character in Shakespeare named John Falstaff around 1903.  It was at one time a really big brand peaking in production in the mid-1960s.  Sadly, the brand disappeared off the store shelves in 2005, but not in the imagination on many former customers.  Word has it that production may soon resume as a Pabst brand, who incidentally brews one of my favorite IPA-Ballantine IPA. Click here for my post on Ballantine  from earlier this year.

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If Pabst does bring the brand back, I hope they put some thought into the recipe the way they did with Ballantine IPA.  I think they hit a home run with it.

I remember drinking Falstaff, a little under aged, with my dad in the late 1970s sitting around the barbeque pit.  I liked it!  It was a little distinctive.

 

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As a prelude to its possible reintroduction, I wanted to share the great artwork Falstaff used to promote its fine beer.

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Discretely flashing a little leg, always good for sales.

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Ah, romance facilitated by an ice cold Falstaff or two!

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What’s not to love?  I strongly support equal rights for women, but I love seeing pictures of these men being comfortable in their skin–just enjoying life.  I love these ads!

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Freshly caught fish on the grill.  Not sure if I can think of a better smell after a day on the river.

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Now being practically, a life-long White Sox fan,  here’s another reason for me to miss Falstaff, it was the beer partner to the White Sox in one of the most colorful era of the Sox, the 1970s.

I love this write up from the website whitesoxinteractive.com.

Today’s Chicago south side bears little resemblance to the neighborhood surrounding Old Comiskey Park in the 1970’s.  Long before anyone had heard of “supply-side economics”, “downsizing”, or “the Asian economic tigers”, Chicago’s south side was a vibrant manufacturing area.  Large mills like Wisconsin Steel belched smoke and paychecks to legions of south siders, game-fully employed in solid blue-collar jobs.  When their shift at the plant ended, they went to the corner tap and then to 35th and Shields to continue their imbibing.  The drink of choice was not white zinfandel.  Every summer evening on the south side, Comiskey Park was filled with the cigarette smoke and serious drinking.

When they arrived at Comiskey they found a new crown prince to the festivities, the newly-hired tv and radio announcer, Harry Caray.  Gone was the understatement of Sox legend Bob Elson.  Harry was brash, opinionated, and eager to draw attention to himself.  Most of all, Harry was one of the guys.  He did broadcasts from Comiskey’s center field bleachers.  He watched the blondes in the stands as much as the rest of us.  He of course had a microphone in his hand to let the whole world know what he was thinking.  There was his giant fishing net inside the booth for catching foul balls.  Most famously, there was his seventh inning rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”  Anyone with cable tv is familiar with a similar routine he did through the 80’s and 90’s at Wrigley Field.  Many fans from coast to coast think that is what Harry always did — and of course they’re wrong.  In the 70’s at Comiskey, a younger sharper Harry didn’t slur his words, and wasn’t a caricature of himself.  With Nancy Faust’s organ accompaniment, Harry led a rousing and drunken chorus of fans in a way Wrigley Field’s kiddies could never duplicate — nor he.  At Comiskey Park it sounded for all the world like a bar room anthem.  Of course at Comiskey Park, it was a bar room anthem.

Harry had spent years in St. Louis shilling the Busch family’s #1 brand, Budweiser.  Upon his arrival in Chicago in 1971, Busch’s crosstown rival, Falstaff, was all too eager to make him their spokesman.  “The choicest product of the brewer’s art,” was Falstaff’s tag line.  Now Harry Caray became the choicest pitch man for the shot and beer crowd who came to Comiskey.

“Ah, what I wouldn’t do right now for a plate of barbecue ribs and an ice-cold Falstaff!” 

That was during the game.  Each half-inning’s commercial break, Sox fans were deluged in a sea of Falstaff advertisements, too.  “Falstaff — because we’re all in this together.”  Other beer brands moved into Comiskey soon enough and Falstaff faded from Sox fans’ minds along with its national stature.  Schlitz, Stroh’s, and yes — Budweiser, soon became the park’s official brands.  None of them ever matched the advertising blitz Harry Caray and Falstaff achieved.

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What a great era…Bill Veeck and Harry Caray!  And the uniforms!

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Those were the days.  Hopefully, we can look forward to some more Falstaff days in the future. (Maybe not those uniforms though, even though I loved them at the time.)

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