Stories Behind Seven, Famous, Beer Logos

RealClear Staff


     Every time we twist or pop off a beer cap, our minds fixate on how the foam will taste—hand to mouth immediately. However, have you ever given a second look at the label of your beer? Perhaps you’ve pondered on who St. Pauli Girl actually is or why Rolling Rock throws a “33” on their bottle. As you’re sipping your suds, join us in a moment to meander down drink-art lane.

St. Pauli Girl: More Than A Mash Maiden


The words “pleasing” and “polite” come to mind when observing the appearance of St. Pauli Girl. There’s nothing negative about a blonde, big-bosomed woman bringing beer to a table. And many might be amazed at “St. Pauli” being the official name for the red-light district in Hamburg, Germany!

More, in 1977, St. Pauli Girl started choosing spokesmodels as figureheads for their foam—as well as appearing on their posters. When ’99 hit, they had Playboy Magazine playmates pose as the mash maiden. (Irina Voronina was St. Pauli’s 2008 tap twinkler.) Get a gander at the girls in their gallery!

PBR Progression

[Source: Wikimedia]

Before they boasted “Blue Ribbon,” Pabst was originally known as Best Select—onto Pabst Select and so forth. They added the blue accessory to their name as a reminder of wrapping blue ribbons around the bottleneck from 1882 to 1916. (Take this trivia to the next party.)

Rolling Rock’s “33”

[Source: TheBeerDaily]

There’ve been many theories on the “33” that dons the back of Rolling Rock’s drinking receptacle since Old Latrobe tipped their hats in 1939. Be it late-night bar arguments or friendly banter at a buddy’s bash, the guesses go from 1933 (the year Prohibition was repealed) to the number of steps from the brewmaster’s office onto the brewing floor to how many horses are on the label to the farfetched tale of the highest level in Freemasonry (33rd degree). However, Latrobe Brewing former-CEO James Tito said “33” may actually be unintentional. When the founders slapped together the slogan (“Rolling Rock - From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you.”), someone signed a “33” at the end to indicate the word count. But the bottle printer accidentally added it to the label illustration.

In the interest of time (and probably money), they stayed with the oversight instead of scrapping and replacing their bottles. Oddly, the slogan has altered over the years, but the “33” stayed as they’ve kept with the same word count. (But check out the argument against all this.)

Heineken’s Happy

[Image: Heineken International]

Maybe the most obscure and unnoticeable art are Heineken’s happy Es. Here, you have a five-pointed star and “Heineken”—in white, black or the original green. Alfred (“Freddy” to his friends) Henry Heineken, grandson of company-founder Gerard Heineken, had a hand in toiling with ale outfit’s own typeface—common in contemporary times but a rarity in the old school days. He mandated the “e” to fall at a friendly position. Carefully examine the logo, as the Es are a little tilted to give them a bit of grin.

Guinness: Harp of Brian Boru

[Source: Wikipedia]

When Arthur Guinness brought about his stout in 1759, it wasn’t until 100 years later that Guinness landed the logo—the harp of Brian Boru. This Gaelic harp hearkens Irish unity—kick it up a step with the the Euro coin. Another neat note: Ireland’s the only country to solidify a stringed instrument as their national symbol.

Brian Boru himself was Ireland’s king from 1002 to 1014. Pending the person you query, he protected and/or freed his people from Viking plunder. But the associated instrument has a story all its own—long before Boru’s time. Celtic myth has the harp under the ownership of the Dagda—a king/god/father-figure with the feat of wielding the weather.

Boru actually has a harp named after him, as it’s one of three, medieval, still-existent harps dating back to the 14th or 15th century—displayed at Trinity College Dublin.

Fun fact: if your surname’s O’Brian or O’Brien, you can claim King Brian Boru descendance—toast some Guinness stout to that one!

Stella Artois’ Horn

Stella Artois started out as a Christmas beer in 1926. Their name’s a collision of Latin’s word for “star” and brewmaster Sebastian Artois, who was the hops doctor for Den Hoorn Brewery (founded 1366) in Louvain, Belgium.

The logo’s actually part of the beer’s backstory. Den Hoorn (Dutch for “The Horn”) and the no-longer-in-existence ale outfit live on as an illustration prominently placed at the top of the label of every Stella Artois bottle. The tinge of trim along the edges is out of respect for the style of Flemish architecture in the city.

Bass’s Red Equilateral

(L) Bass & Co’s Pale Ale, the very first trademark registered in the UK (1876) at the Intellectual Property Office; (R) current logo

Sometimes, simplicity is what makes something special—especially when it’s Bass Pale Ale. Bass was the absolute first to be registered in Britain. In the UK, trademark registration rolled out as law on January 1, 1876. That same day, in order to get the lucky spot in line, Bass sent an employee to camp out overnight outside the registrar's office. They were the first...on that famously fortunate morning.

Bass & Co. Brewery can boast the first two trademarks in Britain. First tip your hat to the Bass Red Triangle in spirit of their pale ale. Give a the Bass Red Diamond denoting its strong ale.

More, Bass is the beloved beer among folks in fine arts. Bass bottles are in bulk in Manet’s 1882 painting, Bar at the Folies-Bergère.

[Bar in den Folies-Bergère by Edouard Manet (1882)]

Bikini Bonus: Old Milwaukee

So this isn’t quite as classy as the others—nor is it a label at all. But we had to throw it in, as brewers love to boast their beers in obnoxious manners—e.g., Old Milwaukee's infamous, Swedish Bikini Team. It’s actually silly, as there’s nothing Swedish about these suds sisters. And these all-American actresses are wearing wigs!

[Video: courtesy of Old Milwaukee]

No, we didn’t get anywhere near citing every suds symbol. So if we didn’t feature your foam here, kick us a comment about it below!



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