Schlitz beer was once a top-selling brand in the United States, but it's fallen on hard times. After a string of formula changes in the 1970s, Schlitz lost its competitive edge, and its sales fell dramatically.
While you may know Pabst, Miller and Blatz better, Milwaukee is home to a third beer company: Schlitz. The company traces its history back to a tavern brewery founded by August Krug in 1848, and its slogan is "Beer for All."
Today, Schlitz remains a midwestern favorite that's sold under contract by Pabst Brewing Co. Its marketing leans toward a hometown nostalgia, with vintage '50s-era designs, retro bathing suits and cans of the beer pictured temptingly with burgers and fries.
The classic Schlitz is brewed and bottled at the MillerCoors facility in Eden, N.C., according to Pabst spokesman Mark Treichel. But production of the 'classic 60s formula' has been moved to Milwaukee, and that shift is expected to continue into 2010.
As the country became increasingly concerned about the quality of its beer, many breweries tried to cut costs by introducing cheaper ingredients like corn syrup and hop pellets instead of malted barley. Some breweries even switched to a high-temperature fermentation process, which was more efficient and less expensive than traditional brewing methods.
In 1976, the Food and Drug Administration urged beer makers to list all the ingredients on their bottles, so customers could compare the brands. The Schlitz brewery responded by adding a stabilizer that would be filtered out at the end of the brewing process, meaning the ingredient wouldn't have to be listed on the beer. But that stabilizer also caused protein in the beer to settle out as white flakes, which consumers complained about. That led to a 10-million-bottle recall.