YESTERYEAR’S FLAVORS ~ About sixty years ago, the proud makers of Jax Beer covered all bases when describing their beverage: It tasted “tangy” and “zestful,” but also “smooth” and “mellow.” For good measure, they added “fine,” “full bodied,” and “refreshing.” No doubt the popular brand did prove many things to many drinkers. Jacksonville imbibers enjoyed the locally-made Jax Beer from 1913 to 1956.
The Jax Brewing Company was founded after a St. Louis brewmaster named Ostner moved to Jacksonville in 1912. At the time, about 1,400 breweries throughout the nation produced mostly local beer. Knocking back a hometown hops was a tradition. Many believed that local beer tasted fresher and cost less than national brands. During the glory years of Jax Beer, 200,000 barrels of the beverage were produced in the River City annually. It passed through distributors in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
From 1920 to 1933, however, both local and national brewers were knocked out by Prohibition, which banned the manufacture, sale, and import of intoxicating liquor in the US. Jax Beer revived after Prohibition’s demise, but it finally went down for the count after World War II. National brands forced local favorites over a barrel. Busch, Pabst, Schlitz, and other heavyweights used big budget advertising campaigns and benefited from greater industrial efficiency. They could also better afford the cost of switching from bottles to cans, which skyrocketed in popularity during postwar years.
JAX, JACKSON, ETC. — In 1956, Jax Brewing Company sold the Jax Beer copyright to a long-time New Orleans enterprise, Jackson Brewing Company. This business took its name from the Crescent City’s Jackson Square, which in turn was named for Andrew Jacksonville, just like Jacksonville. Similarly, Jackson Brewing Company had also made a beer called Jax. During the mid 1970s, this name changed hands again when the Louisiana venture closed. Pearl Brewing Company in San Antonio acquired the rights to the Jax Beer formula & label. The Texas enterprise has continued to produce this well-liked southern beverage.
In New Orleans, the old brewing & bottling house for Jax Beer has been converted into a center for shops & restaurants, with a museum on the third floor. The collection covers the history of Jackson Brewing Company and offers a view of the Mississippi River. Although Jacksonville offers no tribute to Jax Beer, the hometown hops has long been a nostalgic memory for some residents.
~written by Glenn Emery
For more information about Jax Beer, read this excellent post from the “Jax Beer Guy.”
Also, you can view promotional commercials for Jax Beer here.