Brown Derby Pilsner Beer

The bottling and canning of beer (as opposed to selling it in saloons as draught) resulted in industry growth. People were able to purchase individual bottles/cans, 6-packs or cases for in home drinking and no longer had to frequent their local drinking establishments.

Enter Safeway to the beer market in the mid 1930s. The grocery chain’s supplier, West Coast Grocery Company, had contracted with Humboldt Brewing, a tiny brewer in Eureka, California to sell its Brown Derby brand. After a few years of roaring success, Humboldt could not keep up with the demand, so in 1938 other breweries in the region were contracted, and Humboldt eventually closed its doors in 1940.

Due to its economic price point and above average taste, Brown Derby was one of the best selling supermarket brews of its time, gracing the shelves of Safeway stores well into the late 1980s.

Throughout the years, its label was redesigned several times. The one on your shirt this month is one of the most popular and long-lived Brown Derby labels. The original was on a green and brown can, and that, my friends, is an extremely rare (and valuable) find should you ever encounter one on your beer-drinking travels.