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Old Posted Nov 16, 2013, 2:54 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Albany, NY
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The workingman's bubbly

Originally Posted by Martin Pal View Post
Sometime after that photo the BROWN DERBY HOLLYWOOD SHOP opened there and they sold liquor and the like. (It seems to me I've seen photos of Brown Derby Beer cans.)

Brown Derby was the store brand for Safeway stores starting about 1937.
Bottling beer had begun on a wide scale in about 1910, and in early 1936 canning beer began, adding a new way to package for home use. Cans and bottles were easy to carry and could be sold individually as well as by the case (or the six pack starting in the late '30s). More groceries then began to add packaged beer to their shelves and so the distributing companies that supplied grocers began carrying it as well.

both images

In the 1930s the West Coast Grocery company in California supplied Safeway stores as well as another chain called MacMarr. They contracted with the tiny Humboldt Brewing Company in Eureka, California to make a new store brand called "Brown Derby." The West Coast Grocery Company probably hoped the famous Brown Derby name would strike a chord with consumers. In 1933 the brewery started bottling the beer with a green and brown label and the hat and cane logo. In 1935 they started canning the beer. However, the restaurant's owners sued for copyright infringement. The beer could still be produced, but only with a redesigned label. So in 1936 the beer was produced in a silver can. (The original brown and green cans are now insanely rare.) Humboldt Brewing apparently could not keep up with demand, however, and so in 1938 West Coast contracted with other breweries in the region to produce their beer in cans and bottles with the same label (see list below). Humboldt was closed and its equipment was sold in 1940.

The other breweries continued to make the beer and eventually it became exclusively Safeway's brand. The can was redesigned after World War II and in the mid 1950s it was expanded beyond the west coast and sold in Safeway stores around the country. At that time the can was again redesigned. For a time there was even a Brown Derby Light Beer. In 1988 Safeway sold many of its stores to Vons and the new owners decided not to keep the brand. Brown Derby was still sold in Safeway stores in the west, where the brand had been born. Some Brown Derby cans are very common, some are hard to find, and a few are rare. The rarest ones are probably the original brown and green cans mentioned above, and the 1940s quart produced by the Salem Brewing Association.

Breweries that canned Brown Derby throughout the years:
Atlantic, Spokane, WA
Atlas, Chicago
Best, Chicago
Century, Norfolk, VA
Columbia, Tacoma, WA
Eastern Brewing, Hammonton, NJ
Empire, Chicago
Grace Bros LTD. Los Angeles
Grace Brothers, Santa Rosa
Humboldt Eureka, CA
K.C. Best, Spokane
Los Angeles Brewing, Los Angeles
Maier, Los Angeles
Rainier, San Francisco
Salem Brewing Assn., Salem, OR
Silver Spring, Tacoma, WA
United States, Chicago
---"Rosebud...." It was a sled, people! Just a stupid, friggin' sled!
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