National Brewing Company
National Brewing Company
National Brewing Company building, May 2012
|Location||3601-3901 Dillon St., Baltimore, Maryland|
|Area||8.5 acres (3.4 ha)|
|Architect||Wolf, Otto; Backhus, Paul W.|
|Architectural style||Romanesque, Moderne|
|NRHP Reference #|||
|Added to NRHP||December 30, 2002|
The National Brewing Company was a beer brewing company based in Baltimore, Maryland. The National Brewing Company operated from 1872 until the late 1970s. At the end of the 1970s, the National Brewing Company was purchased and their breweries were shut down. However, National's two most prominent brands, National Bohemian Beer and Colt 45, were kept alive and are now brewed in Wisconsin.
In 1872, the National Brewing Company was built at the intersection of Conkling and O'Donnell Street in Baltimore, Maryland. The company was then known exclusively for its National Premium beer. In 1885, National Brewery Company began brewing their flagship National Bohemian beer by the barrel. Nevertheless, they were still considered one of the city’s smaller breweries. The brewery itself, still showing signs of stables from the days of horse-drawn beer wagons, was in dire need of renovations. Unavoidably, National Brewing Company was forced to shut down with the onset of the 13 year Noble Experiment in 1920; larger competitors, however, such as Gunther and Globe Brewing (maker of Arrow Beer), managed to sidestep Prohibition by producing near beer.
Shortly after Prohibition was overturned on April 7, 1933, Samuel Hoffberger acquired and modernized the company, thereby reviving the National Brewing Company. When his son, Jerold Hoffberger, returned from World War II in 1945, Hoffberger made him treasurer of the company at age 26. A year later, Jerold Hoffberger was named President of the National Brewing Company, a position he would hold for 28 years. At the time, the company was producing approximately 230,000 barrels of beer.
Expanding the market
It was also around this time that Mr. Boh, a one-eyed mascot with a handlebar mustache, came to endorse National Bohemian as the beer “From the Land of Pleasant Living.” This notion was later adopted by the company’s jingle, which boasted how National beer was proudly “brewed on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.” The brewery was quickly gaining a name for itself and, in the late 1940s, National became the first to place six-packs of canned beer on the market.
In 1963, National Brewing Company started brewing Colt 45 (which—contrary to popular belief—is named after 1963 Colts running back #45 Jerry Hill and not the gun). Prior to its advent, the only major national brand of malt liquor was Country Club. To emblemize its "extra kick" compared with competing brands, Colt 45 was accordingly labeled with a kicking horse and horse shoe.
National Bohemian, likewise, gained prominence in 1954, when Jerold Hoffberger created the Baltimore Orioles and began marketing “Natty Boh” at Memorial Stadium. National Bohemian would ultimately become the official sponsor of the Baltimore Orioles and the official beer of Baltimore.
By the end of the decade, National Brewing Company, squeezed by high prices and increasing competition, could no longer afford to be an independent entity.
Mergers and acquisitions
In 1975, National Brewing merged with Carling brewery in an attempt to save both companies. Although the Hoffbergers managed to sell their beer holdings for more than $16 million, Jerold Hoffberger stayed on as head of Carling-National Breweries. At the time, National had two breweries (the other in Phoenix, Arizona) and Carling had seven; together they had the capacity to brew 1.9 million 31-gallon barrels a year, making it the 9th largest brewery of its kind in the country. Nevertheless, as Carling-National experienced a sharp decline in sales their first year, a merger with Pabst Brewing Company was subsequently proposed. The court, however, arguing that the fusion of the two companies would result in a monopoly, denied the merger. Merely three years later, Carling-National was sold to G. Heileman Brewing Company of LaCrosse, Wisconsin and the former brewing facility of Brewer’s Hill was closed. Stroh Brewery Company of Detroit, Michigan later bought over the rights from Heileman in 1996. National Bohemian beer has not been brewed in Baltimore since.
As of today, the brewery has been converted to business and office spaces as a part of the Brewers Hill redevelopment project by Obrecht Commercial Real Estate. National Bohemian, now only “National” in name, is brewed in North Carolina by Miller Brewing, under a contract agreement with Pabst Brewing Company of San Antonio, Texas. In late 2011, it was announced that the National Premium label would be revived under the ownership of an Easton based entrepreneur. Using the same recipe as the original, National Premium Beer is now brewed under contract for The National Brewing Company by Coastal Brewing in Delaware. The National Premium brand is independent and has no relationship with the present-day National Bohemian, which is owned by Pabst.
- National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
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- Betty Bird and Julie Darsie (January 2002). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: The National Brewing Company" (PDF). Maryland Historical Trust. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
- Eric Siegel, “Jerry Hoffberger,” The Baltimore Sun, January 21, 1979, The Historical Baltimore Sun (1837-1985), <http://www.proquest.com> (accessed October 31, 2010).
- “Jerry Hoffberger—A Premium Product,” The Evening Sun, August 3, 1978, Enoch Pratt Free Library; Vertical Files Collection, Baltimore, Maryland (accessed November 7, 2010).
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- Fox 45 News, “Natty Boh Documentary,” YouTube website, video, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STBPDNmcODk&NR=1> (accessed November 14, 2010).
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- “Jerry Hoffberger—A Premium Product,” The Evening Sun, August 3, 1978, Enoch Pratt Free Library Vertical Files, Baltimore, Maryland (accessed November 14, 2010).
- Jesse Glasglow, “Carling National Pact Signed,” The Baltimore Sun, November 1, 1975, The Historical Baltimore Sun (1837-1985) , < http://www.proquest.com> (accessed October 31, 2010).
- Victor J. and Carol H. Trembay, “Public Policy Issues,” in The U.S. Brewing Industry: Data and Economic Analysis (Chicago: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2005), 243.
- Jack S. Blocker, David Fahey, and Ian R. Tyrrell, Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: A Global Encyclopedia (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2003), 293.”
- "Brewers Hill Redevelopment Plans".
- "Bringing Back National Premium Beer".
- The National Brewing Company, Baltimore City, including photo from 2002, at Maryland Historical Trust