Beer. America might not have invented it, but it’s as much apart of our national identity as Star Wars, corn dogs, or the NFL. Whether it’s a cold one after a long day at work, or an entire twelve-pack during a summer barbecue, no other beverage is more widely consumed or universally revered. Some prefer the cheapest piss-water you can find, while others search out high-end microbreweries for the perfect, unique taste to grace their taste buds.
As summer once again approaches, the amount of beer you consume will no doubt rise along with the temperature. You might have a go-to brand that you prefer, but there are a few brews you should consider that have been gracing American lips since before the Civil War. We compiled a list of the top five oldest American beers to get you started, but be warned – some of these are not for the faint of heart!
Hamm’s. Founded in 1865 and originally brewed out of St. Paul, Minnesota using the native “sky blue waters,” Hamm’s beer was the product of a California gold diggers misfortune and a local butcher’s luck. Today, this pale lager is produced and distributed in select states by parent company MillerCoors, and is brewed “using the purest water and the choicest barley malt, grain and hops,” according to the company’s website. It’s best enjoyed in your backyard immediately after mowing the lawn – when you can still smell the fresh cut grass. Ranger panties are recommended but not required.
Stroh’s. A German immigrant in Detroit, Michigan founded the Stroh Brewery Company in 1850. The original bohemian style pilsner was actually sold door to door out of a wheelbarrow, but the company later adopted a lighter lager recipe – and still sold it door to door. By 1972, Stroh’s was one of the top ten beers in America; but in 1999 the company was chopped up and sold to multiple companies. If you want to enjoy the original bohemian recipe made back in 1850 today, you’ll have to travel to Michigan – the only state that it’s still sold in. Good German beer might just be the perfect excuse for a summer road trip though!
Schlitz. The “beer that made Milwaukee famous” will forever be remembered as a fixture in 20th century American culture. Founded in 1849 by August Krug, by 1902 it was the best selling beer in America – a position it would hold for nearly fifty years. This American lager is still available today, sold and distributed by Pabst Brewing Company, and is best enjoyed in one hand while the other flips a burger over a charcoal grill on a hot August day. Good company is suggested, but not required.
Old Milwaukee. Originally brewed in its namesake starting in 1849, Old Milwaukee has received more awards than any other American lager on the market. Although the full-bodied, clean-finishing lager clearly stands on it’s own, the marketing surrounding this beer is worth mentioning. From the five-gallon ‘Beer Ball’ introduced in 1987, to the introduction of the busty ‘Swedish Bikini Team’ in 1991, Old Milwaukee really knew how to get a guy excited about drinking beer. If you want to get absolutely hammered on a summer night around a bonfire or at a kegger, this is the beer you’ll want to go with. It’s been doing the job since 1849 after all!
Yuengling Lager. The beer that needs no introduction, Yuengling is America’s oldest operating beer company. Established in 1829, it’s known as the pride of Pennsylvania and is currently the top craft beer company in the United States. It’s a beer with attitude too; in 1933 the company responded to the repeal of prohibition with the introduction of “Winner Beer.” Embodying true American swagger, they shipped a truckload of it to the White House to thank President Roosevelt.
Yuengling still finds itself involved in politics to this day, with the company being threatened with boycotts after CEO Dick Yuengling endorsed Donald Trump for president in 2016. This amber lager is best enjoyed this summer by taking a large swig of it right before saying, “Hold my beer…” and subsequently making America great again during the performance of a fantastic, drunken feat.