By Michael Bushnell
If a product bore the Katz label, consumers could be sure they were paying the lowest price in town. The same holds true with Katz beer. Like Heidel Brau, which we covered last week, the Katz brand was often considered a bargain basement brand, selling for $0.99 for a six pack. Old newspaper ads from the 1960’s show such beers as Katz, Heidel Brau and Red Top on sale during the summer holiday periods for all of – get this – $0.88 for six 12-ounce cans.
Private label branding is nothing new. Kansas City Sausage Company off I-29 and Tiffany Springs Parkway does all the sausage for Farmland Foods, among other major retailers. From mixing to packaging, if it says Farmland on the label, chances are it came from Kansas City Sausage Company.
In the beer world, it’s called Contract Brewing and it’s a booming business these days, despite what some in the craft brewing world may say. Matt Brewing Company in Utica, NY, has its own in-house brews such as Utica Club and Saranac Pale Ale, but also contract brews a number of major East Coast brands such as New Amsterdam and Pete’s Wicked Ale. Matt also contract brews for Costco, creating a 12-bottle variety pack that’s extremely popular.
In terms of major breweries, Miller-Coors and Pabst contract brew a number of smaller, formerly family run breweries such as Leinenkugel in Chippewa Falls, Wisc. Miller also oversees the brewing of Pabst, Colt 45 Malt Liquor and, in Texas, Lone Star.
Speaking specifically of Katz, following the repeal of Prohibition, the Katz brothers added a liquor department to their stores, offering a full array of canned and bottled libations.
First offered in glass bottles, Katz Premium Beer was advertised in 1962 as a canned product in several different sizes. A 5% beer, Katz Premium was sold as an eight-ounce six pack for 79 cents, eight cans in a sack for one dollar, or six giant 16-ounce cans for one dollar.
A 1962 radio ad claims, “Take a tip from Ben’s smart wife, a hot tired man likes the comforts of life. When your man comes back home tonight, serve him Katz beer and treat him right.”
Katz beer was contract brewed by Pearl Brewing Company of San Antonio, Texas. In 1961, Pearl purchased the M. K. Goetz Brewery with locations in Kansas City and St. Joseph, Mo. Pearl closed its St. Joseph facility in 1975 and transferred all brewing operations to its flagship brewery in San Antonio. In 2001, after a 118-year run, the original Pearl Brewery closed its doors.