Old Style beer, a brand originally founded in La Crosse, Wisc., will be brewed in its birthplace once again, after spending 24 years in Milwaukee under Pabst Brewing, the company reported to local media outlets on Monday.
Old Style was first brewed by the G. Heileman Brewing Co. in La Crosse in 1902. Heileman was the city’s premier brewer from 1858 to the 1990s, and was the predecessor of the modern City Brewing Company. During its heyday, Heileman introduced several beer labels to its portfolio, the first being The Old Times Lager in 1900. But due to a lawsuit in 1902, the company had to change the beer’s name to Old Style Lager, as it is still known today.
The classic lager became wildly popular in the Midwest in the mid-20th century. Despite its Wisconsin roots, Chicagoans would often claim the beer as their own. At peak popularity, Old Style served as the official sponsor of the Chicago Cubs.
Old Style’s departure from Wisconsin began when Michigan’s Stroh Brewery Co. purchased the brand in 1994. Five years later, Pabst Brewing Co. acquired the brand rights when Stroh was dissolved. Since then, the beer has been brewed at Pabst’s facilities in Milwaukee.
In an effort to bring the beer back to its roots, City Brewing Company — the only remaining outpost of the original Heileman Brewing Co. — made a deal with Pabst in 2019 to move production back to La Crosse.
While Old Style was never too far from home, locals are elated to see its return, starting this November. To celebrate, La Crosse area bars will exclusively feature custom Old Style tap handles, bar signs, pint glasses, and flags this fall. There will also be a series of events that highlight the beer’s history in the area, including a the World’s Largest Six Pack Pub Crawl — a reference to the towering 54-foot-tall silos that the Heileman Brewery built in 1969 to look like a larger-than-life 6-pack of beer. The iconic brand also played a key role in starting Oktoberfest USA in La Crosse in 1961, so expect plenty of Oktoberfest events at the brewery this year too.