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Jun 22, 2014 10:17 AM

What NYC brewery marketed regular beer as "premium"?

In the NY Times recently, a reader noted that his father had worked in a brewery 60 years ago that marketed the same beer under its "regular" label, and also under a different label as "premium" (see ).

Does anyone know more about this brewery, specifically, or about this practice today? (We all know that price, labelling, etc of items often has a strong impact on consumer judgements, so I'm not interested in the generic condition.) Thanks.

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  1. Don't know about the reader's father or what NYC brewery may have indulged in the practice; however, popular wisdom BITD (or more likely, urban myth) held that Michelob beer was just plain ol' Bud in a "fancy" bottle. (We used them for candleholders in the early 70s. Some craftier souls made proper lamps from them.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: mcsheridan

      They tasted different to me. I don't think so.

    2. Nothing in that letter suggests it was a NYC brewery, but many brewers - even today - marketed the same beer under different labels and, often, at different price points.

      It should also be remembered that half a century ago, the price difference between "premium" and "popular" priced beer was pretty insignificant among US domestic beers, even considering inflation and percentage of the higher price. Advertising costs alone, which could cost more than "premium" ingredients, could be used to justify the small difference.

      Bud, the classic US premium, was $1.25 a sixpack (NJ State Minimum pricing 1964) while the local "popular-priced" beers like Schaefer, Rheingold and Ballantine were priced at $1.10-1.15. It was not today's market, where a "craft" beer might be cost 2-3 or more times what an economy brand does.

      Many of the Pabst-marketed, Miller-brewed labels from long-gone regional companies are said to be the same liquid in different packages and, perhaps, the classic example today is Miller Genuine Draft and Miller High Life which are the same beer, the former "Cold Filtered" (Miller's trademarked term for their unpasteurized "micro-filtered/sterile-fill" technique) while the latter pasteurized. In most markets, MGD is sold in the "premium" price range, while MHL is priced in a "popular" segment.

      As for Michelob, even after they added rice as an adjunct in the early 1960s when it first became available as a bottled beer (previously it had been draft-only since its creation in 1896), it still had less rice that Budweiser, and used only imported hops (Bud was a blend of US and imported). Since then, Michelob's recipe has been changed back to an all-malt recipe - and the hop schedule has no doubt changed over the years.