In just more than a week, bottles holding new hoppier, more floral Detroit-brewed Stroh’s beer will be available in Michigan.
The Aug. 22 release of Stroh’s Bohemian-style pilsner will mark the first time since 1985 that Stroh’s beer is both brewed and sold in the Mitten State. The beer will also be available on draft at bars around the state, marking the first time in 20 years that patrons can order a Stroh’s on tap.
Pabst Brewing Co., which bought the Stroh’s Brewery Co. in 1999, announced this summer that Stroh’s Bohemian-style pilsner will be made at Brew Detroit, a 68,000-square-foot brewing facility in Corktown. The beer will be available only in Michigan stores, bars and restaurants. Stroh’s started brewing in Detroit in 1850.
On Friday, a large portion of the brewing facility was filled with the short brown empty bottles and cardboard cases waiting to be filled, while workers pumped kegs full of the specialty brew that Eric Phillips, Stroh’s brand manager, said should appeal to broad range of beer drinkers.
Craft beer aficionados and bargain six-pack drinkers both should find something they like in the beer, which deviates from the Stroh’s Lager and Light brands brewed by Pabst.
“I want it in people’s hands right now,” Phillips said, watching a Brew Detroit employee fill kegs from massive tanks. The brew represents about two years of work for Phillips and Pabst brewmaster Greg Deuhs.
Stroh’s Bohemian-style pilsner isn’t going to taste like Detroit’s beloved bygone fire-brewed beer. The pilsner recipe mimics a Stroh’s recipe from the late 1800s.
Stroh’s Lager has 14 IBUs (International Bittering Units), making it a smoother beer void of the bite found in IPAs, for example, Deuhs said. The new pilsner has 33 IBUs, so it’ll have a more bitter, spicier flavor profile. The beer also carries a maltiness from the hops and Vienna malt used in the recipe.
“The beer has a true classic style,” Deuhs said. “It’s a very flavorful beer a lot of people will like.”
The crew walked the brand back in more ways than one. Phillips said the bottles — short, nobby, fat, brown bottles with yellow caps — and the labels all “harken back to Stroh’s history.” The name is written in the traditional Stroh’s script and the famous crest was slapped back on the label.
The beer won’t be canned.
In taste tests, Phillips said the craft Stroh’s received positive feedback. To his surprise, dark beer drinkers liked the brew as much as those who favor light lagers. The beer bridges a gap between new high-end specialty brews and the historic labels many hold dear, he said. Pabst is marketing it as a craft beer, selling a six pack for $7.99.
Deuhs, who worked for Stroh’s in the 1990s after Pabst acquired the brand, said the new beer does have elements of the Stroh’s signature flavor many have missed. He and Phillips tested quite a few recipes to lock down the one they’ve brought to Detroit.
The pilsner is part of Pabst’s Local Legends series, which includes Texas’ Lone Star beer and Rainier out of the Pacific Northwest, among others. Deuhs said Pabst is working to pump life back into brands that fell out of popularity.
“I consider myself the guardian of the classic brands,” he said. “Stroh’s was the biggest Detroit brewery of its time. People are passionate about it.”
Deuhs said brewing the Bohemian-style pilsner locally in small batches ensures the beer will be fresh and brewed more frequently than more broadly distributed brands.
On Aug. 22, the beer will be available in major grocery stores, liquor stores and other convenience stores around the state. Bars and liquor stores will be able to order kegs from Michigan distributors then, too.
Phillips said special tapping events will be held around Michigan on Aug. 26 to celebrate the release, though he didn’t yet have information on where the tapping events will be held.
The beer will be brewed at Brew Detroit year-round. “We are not going to run out,” Phillips said.
He added that the Local Legends Stroh’s line might be expanded in the future, though did not give any details about which Stroh’s recipe might be resurrected next.