Gambrinus Discontinues Pete’s Wicked Ales

petes
It’s the end of an era. My friend Pete Slosberg was a pioneer in the craft beer world. His Pete’s Wicked Ale, which debuted in 1986, penetrated the country nationwide and helped introduce flavorful beers in places that previously hadn’t known any. He was a beer ambassador who traveled tirelessly in those heady early days. Pete sold the brand to the Gambrinus Company in 1998, and they’ve had mixed results with it ever since.

I learned today that Gambrinus has sent letters to their distributors announcing that as of March 1, 2011 they’ll be discontinuing the Pete’s brand, citing “rapidly declining sales volumes.” Pick some up while you still can, and have your last taste of the iconic brand.

And for a fun trip down memory lane, below are a few television commercials that Pete did around 1994. Enjoy.

Signing Autographs, a TV commercial from 1994.

Here’s a second one, also from 1994, where a police officer ask him for a permit.

Here’s one that never aired, “Pete Goes Clubbing.”

Comments

  1. Mr. Nuts says

    That’s too bad. Was just looking at their products on their shelf the other day — and they brought back memories. Also checked out their web site not too long along — and there wasn’t much to it at all.

    As VP of business development with Palo Alto-based marketing services firm, I closed a relationship with Pete’s to produce their annual reports for shareholders. Those projects were a lot more fun than the usual high-tech stuff.

    From what I know, Pete’s went public to generate cash to build their own brewery up in Napa — but a combination of a CEO unfit to run a publicly traded company (complete with shenanigans with a female employee) and contract brewing agreements with penalties in the event minimum orders weren’t placed sank them.

  2. Erik says

    About 20 years ago I talked my dad into buying a 6-pack of Pete’s while on a trip up through Minneapolis. The bottle was somewhat plain and had a big purple paw print and for some reason as a 14 year old, I thought that was the greatest label on display. My dad bought it and instantly discovered it was one of the best beers he could find.

    Fast forward a few years and I can still remember how amazing Pete’s Wicked Winter Brew was. It was about the only spiced winter ale I can think of that I would ever call sessionable. Most are good for a bottle or two, but Pete’s was just magic with a great subtlety with the spice added. Unfortunately I think it’s been discontinued for over a decade now.

    I’ll take a look for some Pete’s. Haven’t seen it in quite some time and don’t know if it’s available around Indianapolis anymore. But if it is, I’ll buy a sixer and raise a toast to some fond memories with what had been a great brand.

  3. Andy says

    I’m sorry to hear this. I met Wicked Pete a few times back in the late ’90s when I worked for SMOKE Magazine. We used to trade smokes for beers. He’s a great guy. Maybe he should start a new brewery where he can have total control once again. Or, if he’s made enough over the years that he doesn’t need to work, then God Bless him. He was definitely a pioneer and deserves the respect of everybody who likes fine craft brews.

  4. Ryan says

    I bought 5 cases of Strawberry Blonde when I heard it was being discontinued, and I am loving it! I drank a bit of this back in 2000-2003 or so. Then I couldn’t find it for a few years. When I realised they were still selling it I bugged my local liquor store to carry it. They finally go some in about a month ago, so this news was a bummer for me.

    The product is great, it must have been a business/marketing failure.

  5. Rick says

    That is terrible to discontinue the greatest American Beer. They should have advertised more. I have been drinking Pete’s Wicked Ale for about 11 years now. My supermarket kept a private stock just for me. That’s gone and they are trying to get more. I hope somebody buys the brand and starts brewing it again. Maybe if there’s enough public outcry it might come back!

  6. mark bozzini says

    What made Pete’s successful was a great team and great products. What brought Pete’s down was a greedy board of directors who was only in it for money.

  7. says

    This is incredibly sad. For a long time this was my favorite craft beer in america. It kind of took me to the next level after discovering more craft-style brews with Sam Adams. I suppose i’m partially to blame as i hadn’t drunk it for a few years now, becoming more partial to pale ale’s and some other amber’s. I was thinking the other day how i’d like to see if i would enjoy a pint of Pete’s as much as i used to in my post college days.

  8. Ted Blair says

    I remember Pete’s Wicked was one of the first decent beers to make it to the UK in the late 80s when his and other US beers were stocked at Oddbins. Good beer!

    I was on the Toer de Geuze near Brussels yesterday and was chatting to a couple from the US and mentioned this and they said “oh, he’s our friend – here he is”. It was good to meet him after all these years.

    And now I’m back in London, I checked out my cellar as I put away some new purchase and right at the back there is still a bottle of the Winter Brew…

  9. Kris says

    I’m Devastated at this news. I was always a fan of craft brews, but a friend who almost never drank them ( a Busch 30 pack man) introduced me to Strawberry Blonde which quicklybecame our summertime favorite. I loved this beer, as it was crisp, had a lot of flavor, and was never too sweet as other beers of this type are. I’ve called and written the Gambrinus company, and I surely hope this beer, in a miracle, returns.

  10. Mike says

    This blows. I live in the Boston area and was a fan of the original Pete’s Wicked Ale from day one — his other high-quality brews were enjoyable, as well. It seemed to disappear from local store shelves for quite a while after the sale in 1998, but about three or four years ago we discovered that one of our local pizza places was selling it to go along with their meals. Drinking one for the first time in a decade brought back some great memories.

    Since then, I did manage to find it a couple of times in stores, and was hoping to go looking for some today. This is the first I’ve heard of the Gambrinus decision and it’s very disappointing.

  11. Bud Gibbs says

    The discontinuing of Pete’s Wicked is a crying shame. Please bring back my favorite beer, life isn’t the same without this perfect ale. What can I do to get Gambrinus to bring it back? Please let me know… I WANT MY PETE’S WICKED BACK!

  12. BETSY KREIDLER says

    Having visited three distributers from Indiana PA to Blairsville PA and then Murrysville PA I am coming to terms with the fact that Petes Wicked Ale is no more. I first discovered Petes working in a restaurant/bar that long since closed its doors. Trying Petes Wicked Ale on draft there was probably the only good thing to come from that short employment (@1993). 18 years later I co-own a successful restaurant and my young employees always were surprised to learn my beverage of choice was Petes. Ive tried other brown ales but none compare with working 10-12 hour shifts then coming home and cracking a bottle of Petes. As I often told my husband”THATS really good beer”

  13. Harry baker says

    I’m looking for a 8 gallon keg of petes wicked ale in the pocono’s any one know where to get it ?

  14. DIYinSTL says

    I began drinking Pete’s Wicked Ale when I could no longer get “Wild Boar” close to two decades ago and it has been my favorite beer ever since. I’ll take JoeyBeerBelly’s advice and try to find Surly Bender locally. Looking for a good substitute has been a miserable experience so far. I did have a good beer at “Pie” (a St. Louis pizza place that the Pres. made famous) a month ago and will report back here if I can remember the name and find it in bottles.

    At least there is an explanation for why Pete’s Wicked is no longer on the grocery shelves.

  15. Jacqueline says

    Absolutely LOVED Pete’s Wicked Ale. I have been a devoted fan since 1986. It’s what I take with me to everything. Even Ren Faire for after hours. I even bought the beer for my Dad and it changed his beer drinking ways completely! Loved the gear, too. Had the ball caps, t-shirts and pint glasses. The only survivors are the pint glasses. Shared my last with my husband and my mates at a Pirate Festival in June.

    Well I am sorry to see something I love pass on. A toast, my friends, to Pete, his dream, his beer and our opportunity to share in it. Moran Taing!!

  16. Lance says

    WHY????

    I can’t believe I won’t be able to enjoy a great summer day without a Strawberry Blonde or enjoy Christmas without a Winterlager. I have been a fan since the beginning. I even have the entire glass and Pitcher set From Pete’s Wicked. How could they do this to us?!

  17. Rick Walcott says

    Never mind comparing Pete’s to the big U.S. breweries; this is good beer compared to the best microbreweries. Wicked Red Amber Ale is possibly my favorite beer, and I’ve tried a lot of beers including German beers (in Germany, not imported).

  18. Alan Oberlander says

    I tried Pete’s Wicked Ale for the first time in June of 1995 on the recommendation of a clerk in the alcohol department of a grocery store. It was my first venture into “micro-brewed” beers (now known as craft beers). I was very pleasantly surprised and I’ve been a fan ever since. Over the course of time I was of the opinion that Pete’s various varieties were better than Sam Adams, pretty much across-the-board. I really liked Pete’s Winter Brew. Unfortunately, it ceased to be stocked on shelves of stores in Nebraska around six to eight years ago. Then, Pete’s Wicked disappeared in Nebraska about two years ago. Fortunately, it was still available across the river from Omaha, in Council Bluffs, IA. Now it is gone there. There are many excellent craft beers, but I am going to have a very definite void in my life without Pete’s.

  19. DIYinSTL says

    Following up on my 17 July post: First of all, the restaurant is spelled “Pi”, as in the greek letter. The quite good beer I had was Charleville Maibock; a seasonal beer that I had on 24 May (duh, go figure) and will be looking for it again next spring. Obviously not a brown ale but, like Pete’s, does not make up for lack of flavor and body by over-hopping the bejesus out of it. Still looking for Surly Bender …

  20. Mitch Long island says

    About 10 years ago Pete’s had a specialty beer called Mardi Gras that I shared with a couple of friends of mine and we were hooked. We would get cases at a time of it since we new it was seasonal. Sorry to see it go but will look for a couple of Pete’s locally to give the beer a good send off!!

  21. Houston says

    Anyone know if the recipe is available anywhere. Pete’s was my favorite American Brown and actually inspired me to brew my first beer…an American Brown.

    We used to take cases and cases of Pete’s with us when we houseboated on California’s Lake Shasta. In the morning, when we walked the shores fished for trout, we went with the light and refreshing Summer Ale. In the afternoon, while basking in the sun and trolling for steelhead we went with the Red Ale. In the evening, after BBQing our days catch for dinner we would float around in the setting sun, fishing for bass around rocky outcroppings…and enjoying the Wicked Ale. Three perfect beers for three perfect times of the day.

    I wish I had bought more Pete’s pint glasses – they have been a staple in our household since the late 1980’s.

    I hope Pete got a good payout from Gambrinus; I would hate to think he got nothing for the all great memories he has helped to create.

    Please pass along our best wishes and thanks for all the great times that were made better with the help of his beers.

  22. Dennis says

    So Pete’s was the switch for me from the crap Mich/Bud. I saw the light, the taste, the meaning behind the true essense of craft brewing. It brought my mind to a different realm. The taste of the real beer. Back in the early 90’s Pete’s was everywhere, where the real beers were hardly anywhere. Yea here in Maine we had Sam, Geary’s, and the starts of the age of real beer, but Pete’s was it. Maybe because Wicked was a Maine saying or what I loved it and never turned back. Since you turned me on so many other wonderful breweries have made their ways here…Gritty’s, Shipyard, Sea Dog, Red Hook, and so many others you were the breakthrough, thanks for that, the small brewers owe so much for your inginuity. Would love to taste you once again as it has been at least 15 years since I’ve experienced you, Thanks Pete’s, sorry to see you go and miss you

    • Jason d says

      You said it so right! It was the first beer I grew an appreciation for the depth of it. It was a beer that you could have a conversation about. Can’t do that with an MGD or a coors xtra gold.

  23. Strawberry lover says

    Any suggestions for something like the strawberry blonde ale? That was my fave & I’m mad I haven’t been able to get it in over a year!

    • says

      Geez, here it is a decade later and I’m still looking for it too! I have one bottle of Pete’s Strawberry Blonde in the fridge and have been looking for more for a while. Like mentioned earlier I’ve been looking, looking, looking. What a shame!

  24. Dona says

    I am totally distraught. I went to Italy for 15 months to get my wine on. When I got back to the US the first thing I wanted was Pete’s Strawberry Blonde! I looked at all my favorite stores with no luck. Surely I can find it on the Internet…….darn it all!!! What happened? Will someone please find Pete and tell him I am in serious withdrawals. Please, someone find the recipe and start making the strawberry blonde!!!!!!!

    • says

      Sorry Dona, but don’t blame Pete. He sold the company to Gambrinus, a company in San Antonio, Texas, several years ago. They’re the ones who pulled the plug.

          • says

            I don’t know if you will get this Jay, but back in it hay day, I sold Pete’s in the Midwest. The only “brown ale” was Newcastle. Pete’s kicked some serious tail in this part of the country because it was from the northeast and of course that was pretty cool here. I did a lot of “tastings” and pushed the brand hard. Pete’s would have national contest for thier distributors. One year they, Pete’s, was offering the winners a lettermans jacket. I won two of them. Needless to say I was and still am, a big fan. Funny, while I’m typing this to you I realized I’m wearing my Pete’s wicked ale, black, with the ship on it, T-shirt…. Trips down a road once traveled and enjoyed. Thanks for the fond memories.

  25. Mike says

    What a shame, was just thinking of Pete’s the other day. Back in my younger days in the Bay Area, I used to drink at a pub in Sunol called Lyons Brewery Depot (which later moved to Dublin after an unfortunate fire). Pete was just starting up operations, in an old warehouse in rough East Palo Alto. I fondly remember trips to visit when he’d have Bangers and Beer get-togethers, cooking sausage on a Weber kettle and self-serve beer from the tap handles sticking through the cold box wall. Good times, good beers….

  26. Jason d says

    Pete’s Wicked Winter Brew was my favorite beer of all time!! It’s a shame I don’t have any to put in my winter brew pint glass while I sit here in my winter brew long sleeve t-shirt and winter brew beanie looking at my 2 foot winter brew sign I stole(borrowed) from my old job at Quick Six!! Damn it!!! I’m thirsty for PETE’S WICKED WINTER BREW!! I just found a bunch of old bottle caps. AND keg covers. What I’d do for a barrel of that!! Someone help!!!! Make it again !! SOMEONE PLEASE!!!

  27. Loretta Lufbery says

    I know where I live I could never find Pete’s. I used to love the wicked summer ale. Someone has to bring it back. I hate the new seasonal beers they taste terrible.

  28. Beth says

    I noticed it had been gone from the shelves, but didn’t know why. How sad! I LOVED the wicked winter brew, one of my fav’s. Fond memories of drinking that on a cold snowy evening at the Bridgetender in Tahoe, & really wishing I could get some now.

  29. Bruce says

    Found this page after I was wearing my Pete’s Wicked cap the other day, and someone asked “What ever happened to them? Haven’t seen their beer in years.” Now we know…

  30. John Eltrain says

    Really is a shame when big companies buy smaller breweries and the less mainstream brands don’t do as well on their books as the big ones and get the axe. Happened to Caffrey’s too, remember that one? I’d really like a Wicked Winter this year…

  31. Tom Mullen says

    Pete’s Wicked Ale rivaled Anchor Steam as a top quality beer.. THE BUYER OF THE BRAND RUINED IT, WHAT A CRIME!

  32. Rich says

    I was sitting here tonite drinking a local craft beer out of one of my many beer glasses. I noticed it was one of my Pete’s Wicked ale glasses. Hadn’t drank any in quite some time, so thought I would double check and make sure it was still being produced. I was crushed when I found this page. What a loss and a shame. Since Gambrinus discontinued it, couldn’t Pete now reproduce it? Or produce a slightly modified version of it? It was a excellent beer I had taken for granted as always being there. I would like to be informed if it ever came to be again. Rich / Pennsylvania

  33. Eric H. says

    Here it is two years after Gambrinus announced they would no longer be making Pete’s Wicked….and I still troll the web almost weekly hoping for some good news of it returning. Pete’s Wicked was my introduction to the world of microbrew ale way back in 1992 (when it was still being made by Pete himself, I think, and was definitely of higher quality), and I truly hope and wish that somebody will find the will or the way to bring this wonderful ale back. Any chance of convincing Pete himself to ever come out of retirement? I MISS PETE’S WICKED ALE!!!!

  34. Noah says

    Petes was my introduction to craft beer. Reading this makes me miss it all the more. Now that I know a ton more about beer I’d love to see what it rely tasted like.

  35. says

    I had no idea that Pete’s was out of business until looking for its history just now. I just drank my last Winter Brew last night – no idea how old it was. No carbonation, taste was fine. Heavy, heavy sediment. No ill effects – yet!
    I started home-brewing in Honolulu in 1973 (before it was legal) and made a batch a year ago. Kudos to the other pioneers who saw the business potential! All my brewing was for fun!

  36. JohnMo says

    I used to drink Pete’s all the time. I had actually forgotten about it until I was cleaning the basement and came across an old Pete’s Wicked Ale pint glass that I have had for years, but had not seen in a long time. I wondered what the hell ever happened, as we used to enjoy all of the varieties they brewed. It’s a major bummer, as they were one of the pioneers of the craft brewery movement.

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