Goebel beer…anyone remember? It went from one of Detroit’s most respected ‘kings of beer’ to its final blow as a cheap, low-priced, discount budget beer – a death blow for any brew that was once a major top-of-the-line beer.

The beer was created by Prussian immigrant August Goebel Sr. who came here after running out of money on his way to Chicago. After serving in the Civil War, August and his partner Theodore Gorenflo founded A. Goebel & Company. Their business opened in 1873 and their new brew became a huge Detroit hit. Their slogan was "from the cypress casks of Goebel" which I admit, was a purty darn good one.

With their success came expansion. A new facility was built at the corner of Maple and Rivard streets (address was listed as 2001 Rivard) in 1879…..and throughout the 1880s, the Goebel brewery was the third largest one in Detroit. Then a new brew house was constructed in 1894, five levels high with a corner tower that reached 115 feet tall.

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In 1905, August Goebel passed away at age 66 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery. His son August Jr. took over the business and it continued to succeed. More expansions and greater barrel output continued until the late 1910s. When Prohibition hit, Goebel was forced to shut down and the company was dissolved in 1918. When Prohibition was lifted in 1933, Goebel continued in 1934 and became popular all over again.

One of Goebel’s logo was something called a “thunder eagle” but unfortunately, when World War II arrived, the Goebel logo closely resembled another symbol that was being used by a certain little German dictator and his henchmen. So the Goebel logo was changed, and by the 1950s, the Goebel mascot was a rooster.

It was a brewery workers' strike that marked the end of Goebel. In 1958, that strike went on for two months, which forced Detroit beer lovers to get their beer from a neighboring state. By 1960, Goebel’s beer output went from 1.3 million barrels a year to 215,000. In 1964 the Stroh brewery bought out Goebel’s. They continued to distribute Goebel’s, but touted it as a budget beer, not in the same class as Stroh’s.

Goebel’s brewery produced beer from 1873 to 1964 (except during the Prohibition years), and was sold by Stroh’s from 1964 to 2005. In the 70s and 80s, a whole case of Goebel beer cost $4.44.

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