Olde English 800 is a brand of American malt liquor produced by the Miller Brewing Company. It was introduced in 1964 and owned by Miller Brewing Company since 1999. It is available in a variety of serving sizes including, since the late 1980s, a forty ounce (1.183-litre) bottle.
This section requires expansion with: the brands early history. (October 2010)
Olde English 800 was introduced in 1964. It had its origins in the late 1940s as Ruff's Olde English Stout, brewed by Peoples Brewing Company of Duluth, Minnesota. Rebranded Olde English 600, it was later sold to Bohemian Breweries of Spokane, Washington, and then to Blitz-Weinhard of Portland, Oregon, where it became Olde English 800. By the time Blitz-Weinhard was sold to Pabst Brewing Company in 1979, Olde English Malt Liquor had become their top brand.
Michael Hagan's idea of a good time is to guzzle a few bottles of Olde English "800" Malt Liquor and smoke PCP with his fellow gang members in the slums of south central Los Angeles. There is no telling what might happen.
—The first line of an August 1987 Time magazine story called "Life And Death With the Gangs"
In August 1989, when the brand was owned by Pabst and targeted by the brewer towards the "urban contemporary market", a coalition of "22 public interest groups involved in minority issues" criticized the marketing of Olde English — which as a malt liquor has a high alcohol content in comparison with most beers — for what they characterized as an "emphasis on black and Hispanic consumers."
According to The New York Times, the "40-ounce bottle, introduced in the late 1980s with aggressive marketing campaigns aimed at minority drinkers" was by 1993 "fast becoming the intoxicant of choice for black and Hispanic youths in New York and other American cities"; popular culture evidence cited by the paper included the chart popularity of the song "Tap the Bottle" — a song released in November 1992 and "celebrating the consumption of 40-ounce malt liquor" and the experience of Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC, who had "recently told a rap magazine that he had been hospitalized for alcoholic pancreatitis, the result of years of drinking as many as eight 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor a day." Less anecdotal evidence cited was the increase in U.S. malt liquor consumption from 73.6 million (2.5-US-gallon (9.5 l) cases) in 1989 to a projected 97.8 million cases in 1993.
In 1991, 1992, 1994, and 1995, while still owned by Pabst, Olde English was awarded a Gold medal in the American Malt Liquor category at the Great American Beer Festival. In 1992, Pabst introduced Old English 800 Draft, a cold-filtered instead of pasteurized "draft-style" malt liquor. Olde English received the Gold medal in the American Style Specialty Lager category in 1997. The 1999 acquisition of Olde English 800 by Miller meant its share of the U.S. malt liquor business grew to 36 percent; it also led to a "less controversial" marketing strategy for the brand, one that by 2000 included the sponsorship of a series of minority business seminars.
Olde English High Gravity 800 won the Bronze medal in the American Style Specialty Lager category in 2006. In 2010, the 3.2% ABW version of Olde English was labeled "The Worst Beer in the World" by RateBeer.com, a beer rating website.