Born in New York City in 1842, Schaefer Beer, a once iconic brand, is making its return. Now the question is “will anybody care?”
The jury’s out…
At the top of its game in the 19th century, Schaefer was a staple in stadiums (sponsoring both the New York Mets and the Brooklyn Dodgers), as well at the dining table. In fact, Schaefer’s love for food ran so deep that it was put on display for the masses at the 1964 World Fair, drawing in droves of people looking for a smooth brew to pair with their burger.
But shifting consumer taste and the rising cost of brewing in NYC forced Schaefer to close its Brooklyn brewery in 1976. And New York’s love affair with the brand began to fade.
Now 50 years later Pabst, a company that owns many legacy beer brands (Blue Ribbon, Stroh’s, Old Style etc.) but has no major production brewery of its own, has contracted FX Matt in Utica, NY to brew the heritage beer.
It’s not like the Utica, NY-based brewery is new to contract brewing. In addition still producing its own craft beer line (Saranac), a family-owned operation which has been brewing beers since 1888, has been contacting brewing for other companies for decades.
“This is also not Matt Brewing’s first foray into helping resurrect a legacy New York City brand. according to NY Upstate. “In the early 2000s, it produced Rheingold Beer, another 19th century New York brand that had disappeared.”
And that attempt to re-establish Rheingold Beer failed, so is NYC ready to embrace Schaefer Beer. After all this is not even a Dad brand, it’s a Granddad brand, maybe even a Great Grandad brand.
But then again, in 2019 Pabst tapped the 21st Amendment Brewery to re-establish Lucky Lager, a beer that was born in San Francisco in 1934. And it appears that it’s still available in California.
So maybe Schaefer Beer, a light 3.8% ABV American Lager with an updated recipe, could find a sustainable home in New York City.
But it better be priced “to-go” (read: sub-premium pricing) if it hopes to attract consumers in NYC’s already crowded beer market.