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History > 1848-1873 History2 > 1873-1881 History3 > 1881-1907 History4 > 1907-1933 History5 > 1933-1969 History6 > 1969-1982 History7 > Post-1982 JSBC History Index

Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. : A Chronological History


edited and written by Michael R. Reilly, copyright 1995

Date of Last Revision 03/24/2013

Schlitz also opened a brewery in Turkey and another in Puerto Rico. The brewery expanded into other business areas as well, establishing fish-meal plants and fishing fleets in Chile and Panama, as well as a glass factory and a citrus concentrate plant in Pakistan. 3-107

Although Schlitz had invested more than one hundred million dollars in various international ventures, most of these enterprises became unprofitable and were sold by the end of the 1960’s. Nonetheless, the JSBCo. believed that it was important for Schlitz to diversify. 1-107

June 21, – August 10, 1969 – The Milwaukee Art Center and Schlitz sponsor an art exposition, “Aspects of the New Realism.” 8-80

September 17, 1969 – The $12,000,000 Performing Arts Center opens. Its showpiece, Uihlein Hall, becomes the home to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The Uihlein family gave one million dollars to the building fund drive. 8-80

In the 1960’s – 70’s (?), Steve Byers, of the Milwaukee Journal, wrote a weekly column in Insight on beer. 6-447

Schlitz hosts the 1970 Sports Car Club of America Schlitz Cup Race at Watkins Glen, New York.

JSBCo. opened a new brewery at Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1970. The plant was 34 acres under one roof with a daily capacity of 17,000 barrels and an annual capacity of 4.4 million barrels. It was the largest brewery ever built to this time. By 1970, Schlitz was selling more than 15 million barrels annually, but Anheuser-Busch was still on top.

In 1971, JSBCo. became the first national brewer to self -manufacture aluminum cans. Schlitz built a 150,000 sq. ft. plant in Oak Creek, Wisconsin to produce the 2-piece,12-ounce,all aluminum beer cans. The success of this plant led to the construction of another in Tampa; beginning operations in 1973.

The Murphy Products Co. was acquired in 1971; Murphy was a leading producer of poultry and livestock feed supplements. This acquisition gave the company an internalized operation and a new dimension of diversity by marketing brewery grain by-products.

April 1972, Schlitz stock passed the $130 a share mark, making the paper value of the 9,628,876 outstanding shares $1,251,753,880. 82% of that sum or $1,026,438,181 is in the hands of Uihlein family members. Another $31 million of First Wisconsin Bankshares Corp. is also owned by the Uihleins.

Also, a new plant in Memphis, Tennessee opens this year; the 166 acre facility had an annual capacity of 4.4 million barrels.

Schlitz purchased the Geyser Peak Winery in California in 1972. Research began immediately and in 1974, Schlitz began to market its own wine labels of both popular priced and quality brands.

During this time Anheuser-Busch and Miller were spending most of their money on advertising. As a result, their sales increased more rapidly than did Schlitz’s.

1972 saw the first issue of “Down to Earth”- a company review of environmental issues for employees, which was introduced as a result of the increasing involvement in environmental problems and solutions by the JSBCo..

A 40-hitch bandwagon built in 1902 was featured in the 1972 Old Milwaukee Days Fourth of July Parade. It had been last used by the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1904.

In Winston-Salem rail facilities, land for expansion, and cheaper labor were all prevalent. In Brooklyn they were not. By the early 1970’s it was cheaper to brew in North Carolina and ship the beer 500 miles to New York than it was to brew in New York itself. Result, the closing of another facility. The Brooklyn brewery shipped its last batch of beer in March 1973.

Murphy Products, a JSBCo. subsidiary, acquired C & D Foods, Inc., and its affiliates (the company was a Wisconsin based ,leading grower and producer of ducklings) in 1973.
The Kansas City plant was closed and the Encore brand (introduced several years earlier) was discontinued in 1973.

A new 40-horse Hitch was introduced at the Parade in 1973.

<---Schlitz-Beer Can Collectors of America 1973 National Canvention Commemorative Can-Cincinnati, Ohio...September 14-16. Can is an air-sealed pull-tab. The brewery achieved 98% production capacity in 1973; 21.3 million barrels of beer were sold (from a capacity of 21.7 million possible barrels); there was a 15% increase in net sales; a 10% increase in net earnings, and the market share of all brands increased from 14.3 % to 15.4 % of the total U.S. brewing market. Because of the 1973 energy crises, a Corporate Conservation Committee was set up to regularly analyze fuel and energy consumption in each JSBCo. facility. Steps were taken to meet current and future fuel needs in compliance with new Federal Mandatory Fuel Allocation regulations. The Oak Creek and Tampa can plants were expanded to handle the increasing demand for cans required for production. JSBCo. announced the start of a new $300 million expansion program. Part of this project involved the construction of a new plant in Syracuse, New York. When completed in 1977, it had an annual capacity of 5.8 million barrels, making it the largest ever built. Also in 1973, additional can plant facilities were announced for the Winston-Salem, Longview, Syracuse, Memphis, and Los Angeles plants. Expansion of barrelage facilities were also planned. In 1973 the JSBCo. stock was trading at a high of $68.50 to a low of $49. In 1974, the grand opening of the new Hawaii Brewing Company brewhouse in Honolulu was held. The new brewhouse made Primo beer 100 % island brewed. Previously, the wort had been shipped from the Los Angeles plant. Also, Primo was manufactured in cans for the first time. 1974 - "Taste the Gusto life." slogan Construction began on can plants in Longview and Los Angeles. JSBCo. celebrated its 125 anniversary. August Krug would scarcely recognize the brewery he started so long ago in his restaurant basement on Chestnut Street; but one concept that has consistently endured is JSBCo.'s constant concern for quality. 1974, Eugene B. Peters becomes executive vice-president and general manager. JSBCo. put its Geyser Peak wine brands on the market for the first time in 1974. Summit and Voltaire varieties were introduced to the public in various cities throughout the country. JSBCo. starts off 1975 by announcing record 1974 sales. Gross sales reached $1 billion for the first time in the company's history, a 13.8 % increase over 1973 sales. JSBCo. reveals plans to expand sales of the Old Milwaukee brand to a national level, making it the only popular-priced beer to achieve country-wide distribution. In doing so, Old Milwaukee became the sixth nationally distributed brand of beer; all of the others are premium-priced products. In 1975 Schlitz Light beer is introduced on the market in various areas of the country. See ABF process that was introduced in 1967. Due to the quick acceptance of the Schlitz Light beer by the public, its distribution was expanded throughout the country. The national rollout of this low-calorie, all-malt product came less than four months after it was put into test markets in twelve states. During the "Beer Wars" years, Schlitz turned a decision not to build a new brewery in Merrimack, New Hampshire, into a sales tactic for increasing sales. They suggested that the reason for not building the plant was that the waters of the Merrimack River were too polluted for its "fine, premium brews". Anheuser-Busch which had a new plant in the area soon took a 90% loss in Boston market share, despite the fact they used well water, not the river as a water source. 19-318 In Sept 1975, Robert A. Uihlein, his wife Lorry and another couple are involved in a small airplane crash in Gila Bend, Arizona while flying out to visit friends in Arizona. Both engines had failed and it crash landed without the landing gear down; the plane was badly damaged but the occupants were unhurt. The JSBCo. as of the April,1976 stockholder's meeting had 29,062,982 shares of common stock outstanding. The prospectus said the Uihlein family of some 300 members, owned interest in approximately 75 % of the outstanding stock. Joseph E. Schlitz, a first cousin(?), is an emeritus member of the JSBCo. board of directors. Robert B. Trainer is senior vice-president for administration of Schlitz. He was married to the late Mary Uihlein, a sister of Robert, Jr.. Eugene B. Peters elected President on September 10,1976 Robert A. Uihlein Jr.'s death on November 12, 1976 brings Eugene B. Peters as President and Chief Executive Officer of JSBCo. with Daniel F. McKeithan, Jr. (McKeithan, a former son-in-law of Joseph E. Uihlein Jr., was president of Tamarack Petroleum Co., a Milwaukee crude oil producer; he is said to be close to Joseph Uihlein who formerly was president of Tamarack) as the new Chairman of the Board. JSBCo.'s common stock was trading from a high of $24 to a low of $15.75 ( it closed at $15.875 the day of Robert's death.). A federal grand jury in Milwaukee and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been conducting inquires into Schlitz marketing activities for some months, inquires that Schlitz has said it has been cooperating with fully. The brewery's image was further eroded in 1976, when Schlitz was forced to dump ten million bottles and cans of its Memphis and Tampa beer that was discovered to be "hazy". Sales plummeted, and the company's image stood little chance of recovery. 3-109 A major Schlitz advertising campaign failed in the late 1970's. These new television ads, complete with large, muscular, male drinkers, attempted to promote the image of a "manly" beer drinker. During this time both Budweiser and Miller took a softer approach and achieved great success with their advertising campaigns, usually at the expense of Schlitz. The macho image promoted by Schlitz died just a little faster than did the company itself. Miller Brewing Co. surpasses Schlitz. The new Syracuse plant opens for limited production in November of 1976: the first brew was a normal-size brew, approximately 980 barrels in size. Frank J. Sellinger joins the company in 1977 as President. The projection for JSBCo.'s annual production in 1978 is estimated to be 35 million barrels per year. In 1978, a federal grand jury brought 747 indictments against the Schlitz brewery for illegally marketing its products. These indictments charged Schlitz with restraint of trade, contending that the brewery's programs were designed to encourage retail outlets to primarily or exclusively sell Schlitz beer. Although the company eventually escaped with a small fine, the damage to the firm's reputation was great, and permanent. 3-107 The Syracuse plant is operating at full capacity , making it the largest new brewery ever at one time, 1978. In 1980, Frank J. Sellinger is elected Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and Jerome E. Uielehr is elected President. Schlitz started conducting live beer commercials in 1980 and 1981 in an effort to bolster its sagging beer sales. Schlitz had been ranked as the number two brewery in the country as late as 1976, but its image was tarnished following some brewery process changes and bad publicity. Schlitz saw itself passed by Miller and Pabst, with Heileman in hot pursuit. Under the direction of Frank Sellinger, Schlitz again changed its recipe and began to use more barley malt. Some believed that Schlitz had improved ,others did not. Sellinger's ad campaign used blind taste tests, televised live. One hundred beer drinkers, loyal to a competitor's brand, drank both the competitor's beer and Schlitz from unmarked mugs. Because the tests were conducted during the half-times of nationally televised professional football games, a large audience was guaranteed. The actual drinking was done off the air since it was illegal to show someone drinking beer on the air, when the camera came on, a referee blew his whistle, and the hundred tasters threw switches to indicate which beer they preferred. Even though 38-50 % of the competitors' loyal drinkers chose Schlitz instead of their own, this innovative media hype could not forestall the negative momentum; its image continued to erode and the company found itself in increasingly serious financial trouble. 3-93 A final blow, in June 1981, workers at the Schlitz plant in Milwaukee again went on strike. Plagued by an excess of brewing capacity and a very inefficient plant, in addition to all of its other problems, Schlitz's board of directors decided to close the Milwaukee operation, keeping only the executive offices open. This move not only angered the strikers, who lost their jobs, but infuriated faithful Milwaukeeans, who changed the once-famous slogan to "Schlitz, the beer that made Milwaukee furious." <-- Photo from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel files Even after closing the Milwaukee plant the problems continued. In October 1981, Heileman and Schlitz worked out a deal that would allow Heileman to purchase the company. During negotiations, Pabst topped the Heileman bid after Schlitz's board had already ratified the Heileman offer. A takeover battle then ensued with both Pabst and Heileman eager to acquire Schlitz to improve their national positions. Schlitz continued to support the Heileman offer, but an official report from the Justice Department declared that the merger would be challenged in federal courts, thus the merger was called off. 3-111 In March 1982, the Stroh Brewing Company of Detroit made its own offer to purchase Schlitz, no one took the offer seriously thinking it would suffer the same ending. Yet when Schlitz accepted Stroh's five hundred million dollar offer, the Justice Department surprisingly approved the deal, provided that Stroh's sell either the Schlitz Winston-Salem or Memphis plant to a brewer other than the big two. On June 10, 1982, the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. was acquired by Stroh Brewing Co. of Detroit, and a famous firm and Slogan passed into history. Schlitz had said it all in a television commercial a few years earlier, "You only go around once in life." SCHLITZ AGENTS --------------- Bon Ton Bottling Works (about 1900-1916 located at 120 Front St. , Beaver Dam , WI.. Jacob Martin (1900-1912) and Richard &Lester Martin (1913-1916) were the proprietors. Agent of Schlitz and "Bottler of Ironbrew, Syphon, Seltzer, and all Carbonated Beverages. 1-16 Otto Bloxdorf (1911-1920),agent for Schlitz located at 463 Pearl Kenosha, WI.. 1-38 Peter Steinbach (early 1890's-about 1900),agent for the Schlitz Brewing Co. ,his office and bottling plant was located at 463 Pearl St. Kenosha, WI.. 1-39 Jacob F. Mayer & Co. (about 1888-1895) was agent for Hartig & Manz (Watertown). 1-54 Theodore Schulte (1891-1920), agent and bottler for the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. located at 1313 14th St. Racine, WI.. (branch office). 1-116 Matthias J. Wolf (early 1890's) , agent for Schlitz at 329 Main St. Waukesha, WI.. 1-137 William Buntrock (1875-1892), bottler for Phillip Best and Schlitz; Located at 445 E. Water St. Milwaukee, WI.. 1-63 Maulick & Kitz (1891- mid 1890's) Frank H. Kitz and Charles G. Maulick were agents and bottlers of Schlitz beer. The office was located at 162 Main St. Oshkosh, WI. (also the location of their saloon). The bottling plant was located at 13 Division St. along the tracks of the Wisconsin Central and C.M. & St. P. Railroads. They devoted all of their bottling operations to Jos. Schlitz beer ( can handle four carloads a week). 1-106 Louis Plate (1900-1902) brewers agent for Schlitz located at 17 Division St. Oshkosh, WI.. 1-108 Emil Thom (1903-1907) bottler and agent for Schlitz located at 17 Division St.. Oshkosh E. Thom & Co. (1907-1908) Emil Thom and William Ganzer were bottlers and brewer's agents for Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co.. 1-109 William F. Ganzer (1895-1920) was an agent for Schlitz; he sold beer in kegs and bottles at his "Fashion Sample Rooms at 96 Main St." 1-104 Gustav Reinke Co. (1888-1920) operated by Gustav Reinke and Albert Porth, a wholesale and retail business in wines and liquors. They were also the sole agent in Marinette, WI. for Schlitz Milwaukee Beer. The bottling plant and office were at 1717-1725 Main and 1826 Hall Ave.. 1-51 Christian Dick (1883-1914) bottler for Schlitz located at 223-235 State St., Madison, WI. 1-45 Circa 1914,it is ABM,light aqua in color,9 1/2"tall,and has a crown top.A paper label identifies this bottle as containing SCHLITZ beer and bottled for S.S.PIERCE BOSTON,MASS.The label is about 90% complete and has punch marks to indicate that this beer was bottled on April 9,1914 BIBLIOGRAPHY (Notations after an entry, such as "1-45" indicate a reference taken from Badger Breweries on page 45, etc.) ------------- 1. BADGER BREWERIES: Past and Present. by Wayne L. Kroll (1976) 2. BREWED IN AMERICA: A History of Beer and Ale in the United States. by Stanley Baron (1962) 3. BREWERIES OF WISCONSIN. by Jerry Apps (1992) 4. THE BEER BOOK: An Illustrated Guide to American Breweriana. by Will Anderson (1973) 5. 100 YEARS OF BREWING : A complete History of Brewing in the World, particularly during the Nineteenth Century. a complete reprint of orig., 1903 ed. 6. THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL: an informal Chronicle of its first 100 years. by Robert W. Wells (1981) 7. THE MILWAUKEE STORY : The Making of an American City. by H. Russell Austin (1946) 8. Milwaukee : A Chronological and Documentary History 1673-1977, George J. Lankevich (1977, compiler and edited by) 9. The Uihleins of Milwaukee. by Robert W. Wells of the Milwaukee Journal (April 23,1972) consisting of three weeks worth of articles. 10. Industrialization, Immigrants and Americanizers : The View From Milwaukee 1866-1921 . by Gerd Korman (1967) 11. This is Milwaukee : A colorful portrait of the city that made beer famous. by Robert W. Wells (1970) 12. Bucket Boy - A Milwaukee Legend . by Ernest L. Meyer , Hastings House 1947 13. The History of Wisconsin Volume II The Civil War Era, 1848 - 1873 by Richard N. Current (1976) 14. The History of Wisconsin Volume III, Urbanization & Industrialization, 1873 - 1893 by Robert C. Nesbit (1985) State Historical Society 15. The History of Wisconsin Volume V, War, a New Era, and Depression,1914 - 1940 By Paul W. Glad (1990) State Historical Society of Wisconsin 16. The History of Wisconsin Volume VI, Continuity and Change, 1940 - 1965 by William F. Thompson (1988) State Historical Society of Wisconsin 17. Wisconsin Heritage by Bertha Ketchell Whyte (1954) Charles T. Branford Co.. 18. Pages From The Past, by Fred Keller, Sussex Sun. 19. Under the Influence: The Unauthorized Story of Anheuser-Busch Dynasty by Peter Hernon and Terry Ganey, Simon & Schuster, 1991. 20. Beer Blast: The Inside Story of the Brewing Industry's Bizarre Battles for Your Money by Philip Van Munching, Times Books, copyright 1997. 21. The A. Gettelman Brewing Company: One hundred and seven years of a family brewery in Milwaukee, by Nancy Moore Gettelman, Procrustus Press, Milwaukee, 1995. 22. ILLUSIONS, DELUSIONS AND ENLIGHTENMENT, visits to Wertheim and Miltenberg on the Main River, Germany , August 18, 1999, version, October, 1997, Copyright - John K. Notz, Jr. (1997). 23. "MEMORIES OF MY YOUTH", [by Edward Gustav Uihlein](1845-1921), January 11, 2000, version, Copyright of this transcription (originally translated, in part, by Rosina Laurette Lippi): John K. Notz, Jr. (1998). 24. Breweries of Cleveland, by Carl H. Miller, Schitzelbank Press, Cleveland, 1998. 25. "Oconomowoc: Barons to Bootleggers" by Barbara and David Barquist, 1999, various topics related to Schlitz, the Uihleins, relatives and friends.