Gold Medal Beer

Gold Medal Beer was brewed and packaged by the famous California brewing family, Grace Brothers, which operated breweries from 1897 through 1966.

 The Grace family immigrated to the United States from Ireland in the 1850s and made their way to Sonoma County, Ca. 20 years later. They quickly established themselves in a variety of entrepreneurial sectors, including but not limited to groceries, farming and ranching, beer, ice and real estate.

In 1897, the family acquired its first brewery, which burned down in May of that year. Miraculously, it was rebuilt and reopened just two and a half months later, and formed the beginnings of the family’s long and established brewing history. While the family grew its market in the years leading up to Prohibition, things changed drastically after its repeal. Frank Grace Sr. died in August 1930, leaving his five sons to take over the business.

In 1933 competition became extremely fierce with the onslaught of competing regional breweries. However, Grace Brothers was well equipped with its extensive market and distribution network. They created designer labels, enabling them to sell the same beer with a different look and at different prices – often side by side on the store shelves.

In the case of Gold Medal Beer, they created special labels for grocery and liquor stores who ordered a minimum number of cases. Gold Medal was first seen in United Grocers’ stores in the San Francisco area and later in Spartan Grocers throughout Los Angeles. It is unclear whether this beer was specially brewed for these stores, or if it simply wore a unique (and beautiful) label. According to family descendant, Michael Grace, “As all of us grew up, we faced many questions about the various labels and how many beers we actually brewed. It made for some great stories.”*