Your Dad Loved This Beer: Defunct And Zombie Brews Of The '60s And '70s

By | April 5, 2019

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Ballantine, Rheingold and Knickerbocker bottlecaps. All feature the Pennsylvania keystone notation -- this was a method the state (and others) used to track of taxes paid -- and are known as 'PA Tax Crowns.' Source:

It is a sad lesson: the things we love will come and go, even beer. Defunct beer brands are plentiful, thanks to quirks of distribution systems and mergers. What used to be a local industry, with certain brands dominating a state or few, turned into a national industry, and many ubiquitous beers -- your Ballantines, Rheingolds and Falstaffs -- went out of business or were swallowed up. Thanks to nostalgia for defunct beers, there's also the phenomenon of "zombie" beers -- brands that have been preserved or revived because they mean something to some people, but that might not be the same recipe or brewery from back in the day.

In the grooviest era of the 1960s and ‘70s there was nothing better than hanging out in your backyard on a hot summer’s day, listening to some tunes and cracking open a cold one with the boys. That was a time when major beer corporations had yet to take a stranglehold of the market, meaning that you could still buy a six pack of a tasty, regional brew.

Some of the best beer that was ever produced was sold in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but without marketing money a lot of the greatest brands went out of business. These are some of our favorite beers that don’t exist anymore, what are yours?

Falstaff, Anheuser-Busch's Rival

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Falstaff's roots in St. Louis date back to 1838, and it acquired its Shakesperean name in 1903. The brand survived Prohibition and did battle with Anheuser-Busch to be top dog in St. Louis. In the 1960s, Falstaff was the third-largest beer brand in the U.S., and a fixture at ballparks and backyard barbecues. Falstaff hit peak production in 1965, then did a very unfortunate thing. It acquired the Rhode Island-based Narragansett brand, and ended up the target of an antitrust lawsuit brought by the government of the Ocean State. The case went to the Supreme Court, and even though Falstaff was victorious, the brand never recovered financially. Falstaff endured a long, steady decline throughout the '70s, '80s, and '90s, and stopped producing altogether in 2005.