Thursday’s ad is for Rheingold, from 1940. In the 1940s and 1950s, Rheingold recruited a number of prominent celebrities to do ads for them, all using the tagline: “My beer is Rheingold — the Dry beer!” This ad features American professional baseball player, manager and coach Leo Durocher. “He played in Major League Baseball as an infielder. Upon his retirement, he ranked fifth all-time among managers with 2,009 career victories, second only to John McGraw in National League history. Durocher still ranks tenth in career wins by a manager. A controversial and outspoken character, Durocher had a stormy career dogged by clashes with authority, the baseball commissioner, umpires (his 95 career ejections as a manager trailed only McGraw when he retired, and still rank fourth on the all-time list), and the press. Durocher was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.” In this ad, Durocher is pouring himself a Rheingold Extra Dry, declaring “it’s a hit.”
Archives for March 29, 2018
Today is the birthday of William Alton Carter III, better known as Billy Carter (March 29, 1937–September 25, 1988). He “was an American farmer, businessman, and politician. Carter promoted Billy Beer, and was a candidate for Mayor of Plains, Georgia. He was also the younger brother of former Georgia Governor and U.S. President Jimmy Carter,” who signed into law the bill re-legalizing homebrewing.
He was a proud redneck, and capitalized on his image as a beer-drinking roughneck bumpkin to sell Billy Beer.
Billy Beer was a beer first made in the United States in July 1977, by the Falls City Brewing Company. It was promoted by Billy Carter, whose older brother Jimmy was the incumbent President of the United States. In October 1978, Falls City announced that it was closing its doors after less than a year of Carter’s promotion. The beer was produced by Cold Spring Brewing, West End Brewing, and Pearl Brewing Company.
Each can from the four breweries that produced it were slightly different. And you can see those differences in the cans below.
“After Billy Beer ceased production, advertisements appeared in newspapers offering to sell Billy Beer cans for several hundred to several thousands of dollars each, attempting to profit from their perceived rarity. However, since the cans were actually produced in the millions, the real value of a can ranged from 50 cents to one dollar in 1981.”
“Billy Beer was also featured on an episode of the reality series Auction Kings, where an appraiser deemed a case of unopened Billy Beer to be worthless; however, at the featured auction, the case was sold for $100.”
Here’s part of his story from 6 Presidential Siblings and the Headaches They Caused, published in Mental Floss:
Truly the standard by which all other presidential sibling’s antics are judged, Billy burst onto the national scene as the boisterous, hard-drinking counterpoint to his pious, reserved brother Jimmy. Billy’s early antics were amusing and fairly innocuous: he endorsed the legendarily terrible Billy Beer in an effort to make a little cash off of his hard-living image, and he made quips like, “My mother went into the Peace Corps when she was sixty-eight. My one sister is a motorcycle freak, my other sister is a Holy Roller evangelist and my brother is running for president. I’m the only sane one in the family.” While he worked hard to convey a roughneck bumpkin image to the press, Billy’s confidantes claimed that he was in fact well-read and an able businessman who used his Southern bona fides to help his older brother’s political cause. On the other hand, Billy’s drinking turned from amusing to tragic as his fame grew.
In 1979, he had to go into rehab to curb his drinking. Around the same time he nearly lost his Georgia home to the IRS for failing to pay a six-figure federal income tax bill for 1978.
The real capper, though, came when Billy began consorting with Libya at a time when relations between the North African nation and the U.S. were starting to strain. In 1978 he made a trip to Libya with a group of Georgia businessmen who were interested in expanding trade with the country; Billy then hosted a Libyan delegation in Atlanta. When questioned about his dealings, Billy responded, “The only thing I can say is there is a hell of a lot more Arabians than there is Jews,” a public-relations nightmare for which he later apologized. The damage got worse in 1980 when Billy registered as an agent of the Libyan government and received a $220,000 loan from the Libyans for helping facilitate oil sales. This transaction led to accusations of influence peddling and a Congressional investigation. In short, it was enough to make Jimmy Carter long for the days when his brother’s antics only included such little quirks as urinating in public in front of a group of reporters and dignitaries.
Mental Floss has an article entitled A Brief History of Billy Beer, which is actually a reasonably thorough account.
The side of the twelve-pack carton of Billy Beer.
And here’s his biography from Find-a-Grave:
Folk Figure, Businessman. Known for his outlandish public behavior, he was a younger brother of former Georgia Governor and US President Jimmy Carter. After graduating from high school, he attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia but did not complete a degree. He then served four years in the US Marine Corps and after his discharge, he returned to Plains, Georgia to work with his brother in the family business of growing peanuts. In 1972 he purchased a gas and service station in Plains and operated it for most of the 1970s. In 1976 he attempted to enter the political ring when he ran for mayor of Plains but lost the election. In 1977 he endorsed Billy Beer, capitalizing upon his colorful image as a beer-drinking Southern “good ol’ boy” that developed in the press when his brother ran for US President. After Billy Beer failed, he was forced to sell his house to settle back taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service. In late 1978 and early 1979, he visited Libya three times with a contingent from Georgia, eventually registering as a foreign agent of the Libyan government and received a $220,000 loan. This led to a US Senate hearing on alleged influence peddling which the press named “Billygate.” In the autumn of 1987, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and after receiving unsuccessful treatments for the disease, he died the following year at the age of 51. In 1999 his son, William “Buddy” Carter, published a biography of his father titled “Billy Carter: A Journey Through the Shadows.”
The hit television show The Simpsons featured Homer drinking a can of Billy Beer in the 1997 episode “Lisa the Skeptic”; after Bart tells him that the skeleton he is trying to hide is probably old enough already, he counters Bart’s remark by introducing his Billy Beer stating that people said the same thing about the beer. After he drinks the beer, he says “We elected the wrong Carter”. Also in the 1992 episode “The Otto Show”, Homer excitedly finds a can of Billy Beer in the pocket of his old “concert jacket”, and drinks it.
Today is the 40th birthday — the Big 4-O — of Rich Higgins, who wears many hats in the San Francisco beer scene. He left his job as the brewmaster at San Francisco’s Social Kitchen & Brewery several years ago, and was also the President of the San Francisco Brewers Guild and Director of SF Beer Week for a time. He’s currently focusing his attention on his consulting, Rich Higgins Consultant à la Bière, and most recently had been brewing at San Francisco’s Bon Marché Brasserie & Bar, but it closed last year after a short run. Rich is also one of only six people to have earned the title “Master Cicerone.” I’ve gotten to know Rich working on SF Beer Week over the last few years, and he’s a great person, as well as a terrific brewer. I’ve haven’t run into Rich lately, so I’m not sure what new adventure he’s on. Join me in wishing Rich a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Michael Piel (March 29, 1849-June 12, 1915) who along with his brothers Gottfried and Wilhelm Piel founded Piel Bros. Beer in New York, more commonly known as Piels Beer in 1883. Michael Piel was the brewer among his brothers, and the oldest, as well.
Michael Piel in 1890.
Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:
Michel Piel was born on the 29th of March, 1849 in Dussendorf, Germany. He immigrated to the United States in 1883 with his wife Marie and son William. They settled first in Brooklyn, then moved to Manhattan. They had 11 children: William, Henry, Otto, Michael Jr, Louisa Gertrude, Rudolph, Agnes, Oswald, Roland and Albert was died at 2yrs and Maria who also died at 2 yrs. Michael with his brothers Gottfried and Wilhelm founded Piels Beer in 1883 and located the brewery in Brooklyn, New York at 315 Liberty Avenue in the East New York section of Brooklyn. On September 20, 1973, Piels Brothers closed down after 90 years in operation. Piels brand of beer was [licensed, not sold as many sources report] to Pabst Brewing Company, which continues to market the Piels on a limited basis in New York and the New England States.
And here’s a fuller biography from the Cyclopedia of American Biography:
PIEL, Michael, brewer, b. in Stoffeln, Düsseldorf am Rhein, Germany, 29 March, 1849; d. at Lake Parlin, Me., 12 June, 1915, son of Heinrich Hubert and Gertrud (Gispé) Piel. He was descended from an old Rhenish stock of farmers of singular attachment, whose members successively aimed to expand their patrimony of tillable lands. To the original and extensive Stoffeln Farm his father and uncles added the great Mörsenbroich-Düsseldorf tillages, which now border the residential section of the Lower Rhenish financial capitol. Michael was born in an environment of industry, thrift, and enterprise. His early youth was devoted to the farm at Mörsenbroich-Düsseldorf. At the age of eighteen, he began his military service in the Kaiser Alexander II Regiment of the Imperial Guards at Berlin. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 broke out just as he had completed this duty. As he was not, therefore, subject to the call of the Fatherland, his family sought to hold him back. He promptly volunteered, however, and served throughout the war, participating with his regiment in several engagements, the battle of Gravelotte and the siege of Paris. The impressions on the country boy of his years of service at Berlin, which had already begun to modernize its industries, lingered and served constantly to stimulate his natural gifts of invention. While for several years after the war, true to the family tradition, he worked at Mörsenbroich with his elder brother, he continually sought expression for his native talents. The arduous discipline of farm-labor from sun-up to sun-down, — valuable preparation though it was for the early trials of his later life career — could not check his inventive spirit. Gradually, making the most of his opportunities on the farm, his successes won him away from the family calling. In the creation of new rose-cultures and, particularly, in the perfection of a new and highly productive breed of bees, for both of which, after but two years of experimentation, he was voted the government’s highest awards, he found the encouragement he needed for the growing determination to carve out his own future. It was, however, his invention of a centrifuge for the extraction of honey, awarded special governmental recognition and immediately adopted into general use, that decided him. As the protégé of a machine manufacturer, he visited the industrial centers of the progressive Rhineland and soon chose the ancient German industry of brewing as the one offering the best opportunity for his talent of applying machinery to natural processes. He found a fertile field. The new science of modern refrigeration had just come into practice, and the suggestions which it offered in his chosen field fascinated him. He began his novitiate in the old-style subterranean cellars at the breweries of Dortmund, Westphalia. In 1883, his apprenticeship ended, he welcomed the call of a younger brother, Gottfried, then already established as an export merchant in New York, to found with him in East New York, at its present site, a typically German brewery, to be conceived on modern and scientific principles. The brothers, as a partnership, secured title to a small old-style brewing plant, then in disuse, and found the problem to convert it to newer ideas a fight against tremendous odds. At the outset, Michael was its brewer, superintendent, and engineer, his accumulated experience fitting him admirably for the multiplicity of his duties. In the early days of the converted plant, Michael found that his hours were from four o’clock in the morning till ten at night. At last, in 1888, the ability of his brother as the financial head of the firm and the excellence of his own products assured success and the long struggle was won. The country which had offered him his opportunity for success he gladly and promptly adopted as his own, being admitted to citizenship in 1888. The enterprise prospered and the partnership became a corporation in 1898, with an established business of national reputation. The popular demand for the products of the plant, — then a novelty in the American brewing industry: a typical German beer, — necessitated enlarged facilities.
A new era began. The acquired plant was demolished and a new plant, offering Michael the long-sought opportunity for the application of his talents, was erected. Subterranean cellars made way for a building of cellars above surface, under modern refrigeration. The plant, completed, represented a new achievement in brewing construction; it continues to serve as a model of the German-type plant. New principles were easily adopted by him and many ideas of his own creation were applied. Continued success justified this enlargement of facilities, and twice more during his lifetime the plant was expanded in size and facilities. The brewery’s reputation spread abroad, and for years brought brewing academicians, experts, and scientists from Europe and South America to note his work. Many of his ideas were copied abroad. The plant enjoyed the distinction, as the result of Michael’s constant scientific advances in his field, of the continued exchange with European authorities of German brewing ideas, a unique achievement for an American manufacturer. He retired from active management as the technical head of the corporation in 1900, devoting his last years to the acquisition of German paintings of hunting scenes. He was an enthusiastic sportsman, and was particularly devoted to hunting, fishing, and yachting. In 1901 he acquired the Parlin Farm, situated in a basin of the Maine Boundary Mountains, on the Quebec-Portland Highway, on the line of Arnold’s Retreat. It is recognized as one of the most attractive residences of the State. He married 19 March, 1882, Maria Gertrud, daughter of Josef and Agnes (Holz) Herrmann, at Bochum, Westphalia. His widow and nine children survived him.