Bullfrog Beer

Bullfrog beer was one of five labels produced by the Monarch Brewing Company of Chicago. The brewery was founded in 1890 as Josef Hladovec Brewing Co, and renamed as Monarch two years later.

When Monarch entered the beer business, there was a serious price war going on in the city. The owners already had ownership of a distillery and wanted to expand into brewing, and they immediately entered the price war by releasing their beer at the bargain price of $4 per barrel – half of the going price!

Bullfrog Beer in particular remained known for its low price. However, along with that cheap price also came a cheap taste. Stories abound from people who remember buying the beer because it was all they could afford. It was popular among the college crowd and those who just wanted a buzz. It was produced from 1916 through Monarch’s closure, but interestingly enough was only part of their canning line in the late 1950s.

Monarch was one of Chicago’s longest lasting breweries and one of a few to survive Prohibition, which it did by producing soda, near beer and Bullfrog “Beverage”. It is believed that some of the beer may have left as near beer but was injected with alcohol at its destination. It didn’t have nearly the same taste, but at least it had some kick.

The brewery remained in business until 1958 when it became Bohemian Brewing, which operated until 1967. Unfortunately, all that remains today of this piece of Chicago’s brewing history is the former warehouse and shipping building.