The Resurrection of National Premium?

By Jim Cohen | September 26, 2011 | 1 Comments |
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I think most of us have heard of National Bohemian – the beer brand has been growing similar to other less expensive beers like Pabst Blue Ribbon. In fact, young hipsters around the country have been embracing the brands as they recognize the long term history of the beer. You may have not heard of National Premium, but it was big back in the day, and the beer brand hopes that it can stage a similar comeback and reclaim its market share.

In 1872, the National Brewing Company was built at the intersection of Conkling and O'Donnell Street in Baltimore, Maryland. The company was then known exclusively for its National Premium beer. By 1885, the company began producing its flagship beer National Bohemian. Over the course of the next 50 years, after battling a short stint of Prohibition, the company began to sense true momentum as National became the first to place six-packs of canned beer on the market.

National Bohemian became extremely popular in Baltimore in 1965 after the President of the company, Jerold Hoffberger, claimed the official sponsorship rights of the Baltimore Orioles. By 1975, National Brewing merged with Carling brewery, making it the 9th largest brewery in the country. However after a tumultuous 20 years, in 1996, both National Bohemian and National Premium were pulled from the market and have never been produced in Baltimore since (National Bohemian is currently produced out of North Carolina).

But wait! Tim Miller, an Easton real estate agent, acquired the trademark for National Premium and plans to bring the beer back to the Baltimore market by next baseball season. He recognized an opportunity to resurrect National Premium and follow in the success of Pabst Blue Ribbion and Schlitz.

Specifically, according to the Baltimore Sun, Miller saw his opportunity when Brands USA auctioned the trademark rights to about 200 long-obsolete brands, which obviously included National Premium. And why wouldn’t you want to try?

Pabst Blue Ribbon is the Cinderella case study you can point to and see Miller’s logic. The dying brand was only producing 800,000 cases in 2000. According to Beer Marketer's Insights, this number nearly tripled to 2.2 million by 2010. Another reason Pabst Blue Ribbon was purchased for over $100 million.

One of the major issues that Miller faces though is the original formula. Apparently, the formula that is available is far from the original one that older generations can remember. Additionally, Miller currently lacks the capital or brewing facility to execute his vision.

We wish the best of luck to Tim Miller and hope that he can revive a brand that many have forgotten!

Your Choice. Your Beer. Drink Up.
- Beer Universe



1 Comment · The Resurrection of National Premium?

  • "One of the major issues that Miller faces though is the original formula. Apparently, the formula that is available is far from the original one that older generations can remember."

    That's weird, one of the main things i remember from the Sun article (or, at least, A Sun article I read about Miller's purchase of the National Premium name/trademark) was that it clearly stated that Miller obtained an original recipe directly from an old brewmaster from the National Brewing Co! Maybe it's not the one used back in the 30s or 40s, but even in the 1970s NP was considered a decent beer and I'd think a former brewmaster could at least replicate the recipe from ~then~.....I think his real challenge, though, is being able to duplicate the success had by these other "retro" brands like Pabst, Schlitz, etc, when these gained in popularity precisely BECAUSE they weren't heavily marketed and promoted in modern ways, etc....hipsters started drinking it to be ironic; it was a reaction against modern beer advertising, if anything. What happened if you were a Pabst exec in the 2000s seems to me kind of like witnessing lightning in a bottle....

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