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The Stroh Brewery Company
(Detroit, Michigan)

I haven't drank Stroh's since I was 16 and it was all I could afford.
-- My younger brother, Adam Bauser

Warning: This page is cursed.

When I began BeerDates.com in 1996, the Stroh family owned the fourth largest beer company in the United States. By 2000, they were making all their money in real estate, having dismembered and sold the brewing company off to various competitors. In between those two historical landmarks, Stroh bought out Heileman, changed their dating scheme twice, and kept rearranging its contract brewing deals with other breweries. After a while, I began to harbor serious ill will towards to the Stroh family.

Furthermore, this page has been plagued by the Web equivilent of a heisenberg bug: The httpd server log insists that there's script error, but every form of page- and script-proofreader I've got can't find a mistake. If you're experiencing any weirdness while reading this page, please let me know.

And still, Stroh's does very well in consumer testing, and my dad likes it, too.

Random Trivia: Stroh prospered through the Prohibition by converting its brewery to an ice cream factory -- it was the least expensive conversion the Stroh family could think of. Although Stroh (obviously) went back to beer, Stroh Ice Cream is still sold in Michigan. It does not use the product dating scheme described below.

Advertisement: Find Stroh collectibles on eBay -- Click here for eBay!

Brands

Trying to keep Stroh's brands straight will drive you insane. While Stroh often let its bought-out competitors keep their original brewery names, it usually moved their mailing address to Detroit and converts their brands to Stroh production codes. Here's the best breakdown BeerDates.com has:

Core Brands

In addition to their eponymous brands (Stroh's ® and Stroh's Signature), SBC sold Goebel®, Schafer, Silver Thunder, and Old Milwaukee®, under the Stroh Brewing Company name.

Subsidiaries & Licenses

The Schiltz Brewing Company (brewers of Schiltz ®, "The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous" and Red Bull) and Two Dog Beverages (makers of Two Dog Brew, a malt beverage, not a beer) are Stroh subsidiaries using the same coding scheme as the Stroh core brands.

Goebel packages may be labeled "Goebel Brewing Company" or "Stroh Brewing Company".

The G. Heilman beers (including Altes®, Black Label ®, Blatz, Champale®, Colt 45, Crazy Horse, Heilman, Kingsbury, Lone Star, Mickey's®, Pfeiffer, Old Style, "Red, White & Blue", Schmidt's®, St. Ides and Weinhard's) started using Stroh's new dating system at the end of 1996. (Stroh sold Mickey's and Weinhard's to Miller Brewing, and all its other brands to Pabst.)

One interesting way to spot a Stroh subsidiary: Schiltz and Two Dog have the same address on their containers: PO Box 32875, Detroit, MI 48232-0875. Even more interesting: Stroh doesn't put a full address on their core brands. Huh?

Other

Based on the UPC numbers on a beer distributor price list, I know Augsburger and Red River are brewed by Stroh's subsidiaries, but I'm not sure what company is named on their labels. Those two brands are so rare where I live that I haven't seen a bottle of either in a long, long time.

Who Brews Them Now

After its disolution in 2000, some Stroh brands were discontinued, while others were purchased by other breweries.

The Pabst Brewing Company acquired the most Stroh/Heilman brands. They currently produce Colt 45 malt liquor, Lone Star, Schaefer, Schlitz, Schmidt's, Old Milwaukee, Old Style, Stroh's, and St. Ides malt liquor.

The Miller Brewing Company got Mickey's Malt Liquor and Henry Weinhard's.

Most other Stroh/Heilman brands disappeared after 2000. These lost brands include: Altes®, Black Label®, Blatz, Champale® Crazy Horse malt liquor, Goebel, Heilman, Kingsbury, Pfeiffer, Red Bull malt liquor, "Red, White, & Blue", and Silver Thunder malt liquor.

Two Dog is still distributed in the U.S., but I don't know where, or by whom.

Code Placement

Cans are dated on the bottom. Bottles are dated on the shoulder. 12-, 18-, 24-, and 30- packs are dated on the short sides of their boxes, usually near the upper left corner. Cartons are coded along the top edge of the long side.

Code Scheme

Stroh keeps changing its date format, but its definitely been an expiration date for as long as I've been maintaining BeerDates.com. Beer can collector Chris Bailey helped me the first two entries, but I'm solely responsible for the rest:

  1. For beer produced from 1989 to 1991, I think the production codes began with MMDDY dates. That's probably an expiration date, but I'm not sure.
  2. From 1991 to 1993 (or 1994, I'm not sure), they used YDDD dates.
  3. For beer expiring between 1994 and March 1997, the 2nd through 6th digits of the production code are an expiration date in YMMDD format. All beer using this format is past date!
  4. For beer expiring between March 1997 and September 1998, the first seven characters of the production code are the expiration date in MMMDDYY format. Beer dated before JUN2517 is past date.
  5. For beer expiring betwee September 1998 and early 2000, the first five digits of the production code are an expiration date in MMDDY format. (The same format used for Miller expiration dates, but that's just a coincidence.) Stroh beers dated before 06257 are past date.
  6. Afer 2000, Stroh brands use the Miller or Pabst brands. Duh.

Now, for some gratuitous detail....

Out of boredom, I tried to decode the full production code back in 1996. As used then, there were two slightly different coding schemes; one for boxes, and another for bottles and cans. The two schemes are identical for the first six characters (the important part) -- I'll explain the box version since I don't understand the can/bottle version after those first six characters. Special thanks to James Olson <Ol1009@aol.com>, a former Stroh's employee, who explained everything after the 10th digit. An example code (taken from a Stroh's 12-pack box):

261008STRVPDL 1106
SP4

Manufacturer Numbers

Stroh uses several different manufacturer numbers for its various product lines. That's mostly a result of buying out other companies. Currently, the numbers include:

Number Product Lines
52300 Augsburger, Old Milwaukee, Schlitz, Red Bull
71250 Altes, Colt 45
72040 Stroh's, Signature, Goebel
72720 Black Label
73360 Blatz, Champale, Colt Double Malt, Colt Ice, Kingsbury, Lone Star, Mickey's, Old Style, Pfeiffer, "Red, White, & Blue", Schmidt's, St. Ides
78250 St. Ides
92000 Red River, Bull Ice, Old Milwaukee Ice

Yes, Old Milwaukee Ice, Bull Ice, Colt Double Malt, and Colt Ice really do use different manufacturer numbers than their parent brands. I'll be damned if I know why.

Related Links

Beer Dies! is the independent consumer guide to beer product dating. It is not owned, operated, affiliated with, or endorsed by any brewery or brewing company. In other words, if you want to send e-mail to a beer company, don't send it to me. "Altes", "Black Label", "Champale", and "Schmidt's", are registered trademarks of The Pabst Brewing Company. "Goebel" "Old Milwaukee", "Schiltz", "Schiltz Ice", "Schiltz Ice Light" and "Stroh's", are registered trademarks of the Pabst Brewing Company.

http://beerdates.com/Stroh.html © 1996.pl-2017 Michael Bauser