Meister Brau is a beer brand that has been around for quite some time. Parents and grandparents would eventually remember its distinctive taste and flavors. Its thin and bubbly, carbonated taste is almost similar to the rough texture, and somehow it also leaves a “creamy” feeling in the receptors. For some people, it had a strong bitterness.
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Meister Brau was one of the first beer drinks on the American market. Therefore, it managed to stay in the memories of many people. Meister Brau was especially iconic for college students because of its affordability and cheap price. Their prices were between $3 and $4 for the six-packs of the 16 oz. drinks. The famous drink was brewed and bottled by the Peter Hand Brewing Company.
Founding Of Meister Brau
Peter Hand, a co-founder of Meister Brau, was from Prussia. He already had experience working in a brewing company. Therefore, his experience was useful for the new business. By the time of his death in 1899, he had already had a pretty successful business.
Everything started when the first German immigrant arrived in the United States. He knew how to produce the beer annually. Alongside Peter Hand, who was an American Civil War veteran from Chicago, he founded the Hand brewing company, located in Chicago, in 1891, and manufactured a famous product known as Meister Brau. Little did he know that soon he would be manufacturing hundreds of barrels of the beer.
A Brief History
Soon after his appearance, his beer became the favorite drink of the locals. The brewery managed to gain strength. However, because of the competition that was on the market back then, it soon started to go back. Eventually, in 1972, it was acquired by Miller Brewing Company.
The beer that was manufactured by the Meister Brau brand had different variations. By 1967, they had included 2 different types of Meister Brau, including Diet Beer and Meister-Brau Lite. The appearance of Meister Brau light was actually like finding a gold mine.
Peter Hand had various marketing activities done to promote its brand. Even though the main products were Meister Brau and Meister Brau Lite, soon the product range was increased and included Old Chicago Lager, Peter Hand Reserve Old German, Old Crown Ale, Alps Bray, Peter Hand Extra Light, Braumeister, Burgemeister, Holiday Beer, and Vann Meritt. So, it seems like the list was pretty long.
The original version of light beer recipes was not as satisfactory, so the brand formulated it and relaunched it as “Meister Brau Lite.” By the end of the 1960s, the brand managed to reach the production of a million barrels per year.
The sales went up quickly and even exceeded $50 million. However, a difficult time came for the Meister Brau brand. Because of the mismanagement, they went into heavy debt that they would not be able to pay off. Therefore, it became the main reason why the beer recipe was sold to Miller.
Miller purchased not only Meister Brau but also other existing brands. However, selling the products did not help the company, and Peter Hand Brewing Company went bankrupt in 1973. After the bankruptcy, the brewing company was acquired by Joseph Huber Brewing Co. Eventually, in 1978, this one closed permanently.
Acquisition By Miller
After the acquisition, the Miller brand rebranded Meister Brau, and therefore it was introduced as Lite Beer by Miller. The change was made in 1973, and the test marketing for the new product was also started. After the successful results of the test marketing, the Miller Brand started manufacturing the product nationally in 1975. Their famous light beer recipe was eventually sold to Miller Corporation and later rebranded as Miller Lite.
This new addition to the market was such a phenomenal initiative that other brands such as Schlitz, Coors, and Anheuser-Busch soon adjusted their product lines and introduced tight beers. Today, for example, Budweiser is considered the number one light beer brand in the world.
The Meister Brau drink was reformulated in 1983. This time, Miller started a serious marketing campaign to promote the beer and reach the premium segments. The aim was to position it among the higher budget level beer brands. Another invention was Milwaukee’s Best. The main marketing target now was this new product, and Meister Brau slowly started to wither away.
In the year 2005, Miller announced that they were pausing the production of the Meister Brau lite because of sagging sales. They stated that this particular brand was a regional one. And “lost the regional base and were never really able to get it back”. Even though this version was discontinued, the regular Meister Brau beers are still produced.
Competition On The Market
William Lill arrived in the United States from England shortly after the German, Peter Hands. He bought into the brewery and started to be actively involved in the process in 1839. Alongside this, William Ogden, who was the first mayor of Chicago, also started a beer manufacturing business.
There are some thoughts regarding which was the first brewery in Chicago. Some think that it first appeared in the 1930s. Some sources state that in that year, the first brewery in Chicago may have been the J & W Crawford’s brand.
One of the important people in Chicago’s beer-brewing history was John Ewald Siebel. He was an immigrant too and has strongly influenced American brewing styles. We have to thank him for having the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago. His mission was to give education to people regarding the brewery. Therefore, it started to educate professional brewers. He got around the prohibitions by calling them “baking classes.” The university still functions proudly after 140 years and is named after John Ewald Siebel.
Marketing was one of the things that the Meister Brau company was mostly focused on. As part of the promotions, they sponsored some large sports teams, including the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls, and Chicago Blackhawks. Other than that, they were also actively seen on radio shows and billboards. They were the second-largest advertisers in Mayor Richard J. Daley’s election campaign.
The original logo of the drink was blue and red. There was a shield shape portrayed in the background. On top of the shield, there was a hand that held the letter “P”. The red circle was around the picture and the name of the company was printed on the circle – “Peter Hand Brewing Co., Chicago, Ill.” The current logo is a little different from the original one. It comes in red and light brown colors. Two beer steins in a brownish color are in the middle of the logo.
In 2010 and 2014, Miller Lite (former Meister Brau Lite) won first place for being the “Best American Style Beer”. It happened during the Great American Beer Festival. Among the top 100 competitors, this particular beer was ranked number one. Miller Lite’s main competitor today is Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light. The brand officially sponsors some of the most famous sports teams, such as the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, Bellator MMA, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Green Bay Packers.
In 1977, the Miller brand products were ranked in 2nd place in the American brewing marketplace. By the year 1992, light beers had already become the most popular domestic beer in America. If before, the Miller brand was simply mentioned by name, now it is relabeled as “Miller Lite”.
How Is Meister Brau Beer Made?
Back in time, light beers were made by adding water to existing lagers. All this has resulted in creating mediocre products. The first “diet beer” was invented by biochemist Joseph Owades, and the product was called Gablinger’s Beer. During the process of manufacturing, the enzyme amyloglucosidase was added to the mixture for fermentation purposes. This caused the reaction that eliminated carbohydrates and, as a result, reduced the calorie concentrations by one-third.
Owades eventually purchased the beer recipe and created Gablinger Beer, which appeared on the market in 1966. Even though its appearance was a failure, the recipe was bought by the Peter Hand Brewing Company. After some adjustments and experiments with the Meister Brau, they managed to create Meister Brau Lite. Beer has a 4.5% alcohol level.
According to the manufacturer, the main ingredients used in the Meister Brau making process are Dark Roasted Malts, air-dried hops, grains, and pure water.
The Meister Brau beer comes in a darker golden color. When poured into the glass, the crown gets coarse-pored and high. The smell of the beer is quite pleasant, and it comes with a little bit of a rough taste. The Meister Brau is a low-cost option for regular and light beers. Therefore, it was often seen at the student parties, and eventually, it ran pretty well while drinking.
Regardless of the multiple ups and downs, it managed to maintain the name and love of the people. Even though the Peter Hand Brewing Company was bankrupt, the Meister Brau Product name managed to stick around for more than a century thanks to the Miller’s Co.
My name is Brianna and I love writing on all topics. Candy history fascinates me and I am passionate about sharing my love of this topic with everyone else!
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