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Oktoberfest 12-pak

Old Style Oktoberfest, to debut next month, is the first new blend Old Style has produced in 15 years.

Old Style beer is returning to its roots of being brewed in La Crosse at the same time it is adding a chapter to history with a new brew, tapped as Old Style Oktoberfest, next month.

The new Old Style, first produced as a premium beer at G. Heileman Brewing Co. in La Crosse in 1902, will be the company’s first new blend in 15 years when it rolls off the production line Thursday at City Brewery.

The rollout will be a homecoming of another sort for Old Style, which was Heileman’s No. 1 beer for nearly a century and helped start Oktoberfest USA in La Crosse 56 years ago. Heileman, the city’s major brewer from 1858 until the mid-1990s, is the predecessor of City Brewery, which will be Old Style’s sole producer in a contract with brand owner Pabst Brewing Co.

It also will mark the return of Old Style as the official beer sponsor for Oktoberfest, a move with special significance for the Sept. 29-Oct. 2 celebration, said James Brennan, an Oktoberfest board member and member of the festival’s beer committee, which sealed the deal with Pabst.

“It means a great deal, with the long history of Old Style and Heileman and getting back to its roots,” Brennan said. “It’s a grand re-entrance, and a large sponsor helps a lot” with Oktoberfest.

Old Style’s new seasonal product, scheduled to take its place on store shelves in September, will be a classic Märzen-style brew, which the company describes as an ideal adult beverage for fall.

City Brewing Co., which also has plants in Latrobe, Pa., and Memphis, Tenn., will not add to its 500-worker payroll for the Old Style production at City Brewery in La Crosse at this point, said brewmaster Randy Hughes.

“It’s a small step in us hopefully doing more production for Pabst in the future,” Hughes said.

“It’s the first product out of La Crosse with the Heileman shield and name since mid-1999. That for me is enough to celebrate,” said Hughes, who began working at Heileman in May 1978 and became brewmaster in May 1995.

Another development for fans of Old Style and Old Style Light is that the company will debut a packaging makeover it says will return the brand to its classic roots. Social media demand helped spark that move, according to the company.

“The Midwest is and always will be the true home of Old Style,” said Dan McHugh, Pabst’s chief marketing officer. “Old Style’s fans are a loyal group and continue to be a large part of the brand’s legacy and what makes it such a staple.

“The packaging re-design and launch of Old Style’s Oktoberfest are the perfect way for us to both honor our past heritage and to celebrate with our fans the future of what is to come,” McHugh said.

Tentative plans call for a brief ceremony as the first case of Old Style Oktoberfest rolls off the production line Thursday morning at City Brewery before being delivered via carriage to Mayor Tim Kabat’s office.

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Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

(11) comments


A positive move for La Crosse. I'm sure it's another great beer from the brew crafting of Randy Hughes. Using Randy's term, it will have "drinkability"!


Awesome that Old Style will again be brewed in LaCrosse! How sad that the greed of Allan Bond had to ruin all the hard work of Russell Cleary, and the lifeblood of Heilemans and so many former employees. Is Gambrinus still standing? Best wishes for a long future of great beer and good jobs. My Dad, Verd Grabinski, LOVED his work and friends there, in the Bottling House, from the age of 16 until his untimely retirement and death, almost 50 years. He was always so proud of the output, and kept log books of the brewery's progress. Best of all, for all the kids of employees, were the annual Brewery Picnics with great food, fun, and games, providing lots of great memories. ~~ Mary Grabinski Grabski

ida tarbell

Is this move by City Brewery a ploy and a trade-off to restore the declining fest to its former prosperity, in a quid pro quo that would see the successors of Roy Kumm and Russ Cleary injecting money into the Fest, regaining control of Festground beer sales, which was the point of Kumm-Cleary establishing the Fest in the first place?


What a great deal for La Crosse, for Wisconsin and for all us lovers of authentic US beer.


Heileman's cheapened their beer so much over the years that it was no longer anything like the original. Some brewers deserved to go out of business.


How soon can we purchase it locally? Where?


Good news!


Old Style, finally back where it belongs! "Brewed with water from when the earth was pure.". Welcome back to God's Country!


But that Lake Michigan sewage water gave Old Style that extra bite that I'll miss so much...


hopefully they will start brewing more beer in lacrosse, it was always a nice " smell" for that part of lacrosse, much better than the odor we get from the stuff they make now.

Pam W

Coming back to our city!!!!

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