“Don’t say ‘beer’- say ‘Bull’” was the long-time advertising slogan for Schlitz Malt Liquor.
Malted barley is the key ingredient used in brewing that differentiates malt liquor from beer.
Additionally, sugar, corn or rice is added to the malted barley to boost the amount of fermentable sugars in the wort, which produces a higher alcohol content without becoming too heavy or sweet.
The classification of a malt liquor lacks a stable definition as state regulations vary but the final brew has an alcohol content that ranges from 6 to 9 percent. Truly an American product, the first company to market a grain beverage as “malt liquor” was the Grand Valley Brewing Company in 1939. Clarence “Click” Koerber named his brew “Clix” but the brewing process wasn’t patented until 1948 when competitor Alvin C. Gluek Sr. filed for US patent #2442806.
Gluek owned the Gluek Brewing Company of Minneapolis, Minn. and named his malt liquor “Stite”.
Enter the Goetz Brewery in nearby St. Joseph, Missouri, which already produced Country Club brand beer. Country Club Malt Liquor was branded as a drink appropriate for cocktail parties, a beverage that would please the palates of the classy and genteel party set.
Banking on the higher alcohol content of malt liquor, Colt 45 (National Brewing Company) was introduced in 1963 as a brew with a higher “kick”. The following year, the Joseph Schlitz Brewing company followed suit, introducing Schlitz Malt Liquor, even going as far as hiring away personnel from Goetz to help develop their brand of malt liquor.
While a stylized bull image had always been representative of Schiltz’s brand, television commercials featuring a live bull breaking through barroom walls set it apart through the late 1960’s into the 1980’s.
As shown here, this 8 ounce can is trademarked 1973 and lists all the Schlitz breweries: Milwaukee, WI, Brooklyn, NY, Tampa, FL, Longview, TX, Kansas City, MO, Los Angeles, CA, Winston-Salem, NC and Memphis, TN. The 12 ounce can features a UPC code and lists all the breweries while omitting the Kansas City brewery that closed in 1973 and adding a brewery location in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Pabst Brewing Company purchased Shlitz in 1999 and continues to produce Schlitz Malt Liquor in several varieties; the company also owns the Colt 45 brand.