By Dorri Partain
The pure spring waters of San Antonio, Texas, were used for decades to produce a variety of locally-available beer brands.
Founded in 1883 as the J. B. Belohradsky Brewery, or City Brewery, by 1888 the name changed to the San Antonio Brewing Company. Its signature product, Pearl Beer, was named by the brewmaster, as he compared the beer’s bubbles to “sparkling pearls.”
To survive Prohibition, from 1919 to 1933 the company became the Alamo Foods Company, producing a variety of products that included soft drinks, near beer, commercial ice, and a creamery division.
After the 18th Amendment was repealed, Pearl Beer reappeared on store shelves. To avoid confusion with other San Antonio-based breweries, the name was changed to Pearl Brewing Company in 1952.
The company expanded into Missouri with the purchase of the M.K. Goetz Brewery in St. Joseph in 1961. In addition to brewing the Pearl brand, they continued to brew Goetz brands, such as Country Club beer and Country Club malt liquor, as well as near beer.
Pearl was also a contract brewery for local store brands such as Katz Drug stores and QuikTrip convenience stores. Katz Beer was originally brewed by Goetz, beginning in the 1950’s as a bottled product, while QT’s Quittin’ Time brand was solely a Pearl product, introduced in 1977 after Pearl had closed the brewery in St. Joseph the year prior.
The Katz Beer brand was discontinued when the chain was purchased by Skaggs Drugs in 1971.
In 1985, Pearl purchased the Pabst brand and consolidated operations as Pabst, discontinuing production of the Pearl brand by 2001. Quittin’ Time was also available as a light beer but disappeared from QT coolers by the late 1980’s.
Pabst re-introduced “Pearl xXx” as a reformulated brand in 2020, paying homage to a brand introduced in 1886 and the history of San Antonio.