It was the beer that made Milwaukee famous in the 1950s and 60s. But sometime in the early 1970s, the makers of Schlitz beer began tinkering with the brewing process and the recipe, changing the flavor.
On Dec. 2, the classic Schlitz recipe returns to the Northwest Indiana as a full-bodied beer sold in the original 12-ounce. brown bottles.
Calumet Breweries in Hammond will be the official distributor in this area, said John Kiernan, president of the 75-year old firm that distributes Pabst, Anheuser-Busch products, Heinekens, Corona and beer brewed by Three Floyds of Munster. Today, Pabst Brewing Co. owns the Schlitz brand.
"Pabst chose us to do the roll out because we are the traditional Schlitz distributor in Lake County," Kiernan said.
Now, Calumet Breweries is working to put the classic Schlitz into taverns, restaurants and package liquor stores, he said.
"It's priced as a premium beer," Keirnan said.
For those who like their Schlitz cold from the home refrigerator, the beer will be sold in six-packs of bottles for about $5.99 and 12-packs for between $10.99 and $11.99, Kiernan said. Restaurant and tavern prices will vary.
"The tag line used to be, When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer.' We hope that idea catches on again," Kiernan said.
Pabst Brewing Company contracted with a Miller facility in South Carolina to brew Schlitz using the original recipe. However, the entire brewing process will be returned to Milwaukee in 2009, said Mark Treichel, of Hoffman York Communications.
"After the launch date for the classic Schlitz, the Schlitz beer now sold in cans won't be available anywhere in the Hammond area," Treichel said.
Kiernan said this return of classic Schlitz is part of a slow expansion of the beer that was number one in America in its heyday.
"We sold 100 million cases annually in the 50s and 60s when there weren't as many brands," he said. "There has been some interest (in original-recipe Schlitz) on a national basis to replace economy Schlitz."