Monday, June 19, 2017

Forgotten Oshkosh Beers: Aristo

Another beer nobody remembers. But there was a time when this was on many lips around here. It's Aristo, of the Peoples Brewing Company of Oshkosh.

The label was fancier than the beer behind it. Aristo was the budget beer in Peoples' line-up.  It was introduced in the spring of 1914. You could buy it at the brewery for 80 cents a case (about $14 in today's money). It was among the cheapest beers then available in Oshkosh.

Peoples offered few specifics about Aristo. I strongly suspect, though, that it was the same as Peoples' keg beer. But pasteurized, bottled and given a flashier banner. If that is the case, Aristo would have been an amber-hued lager. A friendly, comfortable beer. People here loved it. Or maybe they just loved the price.

Early on Peoples advertised the hell out of Aristo. They liked to harp on the idea of it being "Just the thing for the family—that is why we call it our "family beer."' You'd think they were marketing an elixir, the way they talked the stuff up. Lot's of breweries were spewing nonsense like this in 1914.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, May 16, 1914.

At Peoples they could be touchy about the reputation of their beer. They had good reason to be sensitive. Before Peoples opened in 1913, the Oshkosh Brewing Company had undertaken a smear campaign against them. OBC had intimated that Peoples was launched to make cheap beer for drunks. That was hardly the case. But the slur couldn't be ignored. When Aristo came out, Peoples made a point of addressing the beer's budget price.

"Do not think because the price is low that it is of poor quality, we know that this beer will take so well with the family, that we can sell it cheaper."

I'm sure nobody really cared about any of that bunk. Oshkosh always had a soft spot for cheap beer. Especially when it was locally made.  Aristo was a hit.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, June 11, 1914.
Sadly, these tales often end the same. With Prohibition. Peoples ceased production of the real Aristo when the first of the dry laws hit in 1919. But the brand wasn't dead, yet.

In the summer of 1919, Peoples released two non-alcoholic, beer-like beverages. One was named Bravo. The other Aristo.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, July 26, 1919.
And Aristo's doom was cemented. Without its kick, Aristo flopped. The brand faded into oblivion. When Prohibition ended in 1933, Aristo was left for dead. The cheap beer with the fancy name was never brewed again.

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