Coors Banquet, first introduced in 1873, has a storied history behind its name. Originally brewed by German immigrants Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler as Coors Golden Lager, the beer quickly gained popularity among miners in Clear Creek Canyon. These miners would frequently gather together in banquet halls or large tents to enjoy the refreshing lager after long days working in the mines. Coors Golden Lager became known as “Banquet Beer” thanks to its association with these celebratory banquets and communal gatherings.
In 1880, Adolph Coors became sole owner of the brewery and the Coors Golden Lager product. It wasn’t until 1937 that the company made the “Banquet” name official for marketing and nostalgia purposes. During the challenging economic times of the Great Depression, Coors aimed to remind customers of happier eras and the beer’s long-standing role in festive social occasions. The name “Banquet” evoked images of lavish meals, toasts with friends and family, and treasured traditions.
As a nutritionist, I appreciate that Coors Banquet is a classic American lager brewed for more than a century using traditional methods. While I generally recommend limiting alcohol intake, responsible enjoyment of beers like Coors Banquet in moderation can be part of an overall balanced diet. The story behind the Banquet name is a reminder of the importance of community, gathering with loved ones, and celebrating time-honored customs.
Brewing Up a Dream in the Rockies (1873)
The Coors Banquet journey begins in 1873 near the town of Golden, Colorado. It was here that two industrious German immigrants, Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler, established the Schueler and Coors Golden Brewery.
Adolph Coors had ambitious dreams of brewing the perfect beer by harnessing the unique properties of local Rocky Mountain spring water. Coors was convinced this pure, high-quality water would create a superior lager.
So in 1873, Coors and Schueler began brewing up their lager-style beer now known as Coors Banquet. They dubbed it Coors Golden Lager at the time, never expecting just how golden the beer’s future would become.
Striking Liquid Gold with Miners (1870s)
The tasty lager brewed up by Coors and Schueler quickly found an appreciative audience amongst local miners working in Clear Creek Canyon near Golden.
These hardy miners took an instant liking to the refreshing beer, enjoying it together after long days working in the harsh conditions of the mines. They would gather together for meals and libations in makeshift banquet halls built from tents and ramshackle wooden planks.
It was in these primitive banquet halls that Coors Golden Lager became affectionately known as Banquet Beer. For the dust-laden miners, it was a small taste of civilization and communal revelry.
This bond with Colorado miners would prove formative for Coors Banquet, associating it with the American West and blue-collar workers for generations to come.
Full Ownership and Rename (1880s)
By 1880, just 7 years after striking liquid gold, Adolph Coors was sole owner of the brewery and the prized Banquet Beer recipe. Coors bought out his partner Schueler’s stake in the company to take full control.
Under Coors’ leadership, the brewery was renamed the Adolph Coors Golden Brewery, cementing his name as the face of the burgeoning beer brand. Coors ushered in expansion, introducing new bottling facilities and refrigerated railcars to transport the perishable beer.
Prohibition Woes and Loyal Fans (1916-1933)
Coors’ growth plans faced a major hurdle when Prohibition arrived in Colorado in 1916, forcing the brewery to halt liquor production entirely.
As with many brewers, Coors struggled through, devising non-alcoholic drinks like malted milk and ceramic products to stay afloat. Their beloved beer survived, even as bootleggers smuggled small amounts of Coors Banquet to Loyal fans.
When nationwide Prohibition finally ended in 1933 after 13 dry years, Coors Banquet was ready to reclaim its mantle as a cherished Colorado brew.
Marketing a Name and Nostalgia (1937)
By the mid-1930s, Coors Banquet was widely known by its nickname Banquet Beer, even though its technical name remained Coors Golden Lager. Wanting to better capture the beer’s legacy and association with miners of yore, Coors made the Banquet moniker official in 1937 with its Coors Banquet rebranding.
This name change was part of a larger push into marketing and nostalgia during the challenging times of the Great Depression. Coors aimed to remind drinkers of happier eras and the beer’s role in community and tradition.
Cult Following and Rarity (1970s)
A major inflection point emerged during the 1970s, when Coors Banquet became a coveted cult beer thanks to its limited distribution footprint focused on Western states.
Its rarity in other parts of America made it a coveted commodity, stoking demand. By restricting supply to the West, Coors ensured refrigerated transit while turning Banquet into a hot target for enterprising bootleggers.
By the mid-70s, Coors Banquet had gained a fanatical following and became the 4th best-selling beer in the country despite regional distribution. Devotees even founded the “Coors Boosters Club” fan club to show their dedication.
National Expansion and Modern Marketing (1991-today)
By 1991, improved transit finally allowed Coors to distribute its treasured Banquet Beer nationwide to all 50 states. This expanded availability introduced the brew to new drinkers across America.
In recent years, Coors has doubled down on highlighting the beer’s 140-year tradition in its marketing. Banquet beer’s longevity and minimal changes throughout the years lend it an aura of authenticity.
Nostalgic advertising plays up the brand’s working-class roots and historical connections to miners cracking open a hard-earned Coors. For generations of loyal drinkers, Coors Banquet remains a beloved staple.
|1873||Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler establish the Schueler and Coors Golden Brewery in Golden, Colorado.||They begin brewing Coors Golden Lager made with Rocky Mountain spring water.|
|Late 1870s||Coors Golden Lager gains popularity amongst miners in Clear Creek Canyon near Golden.||The beer becomes known as “Banquet Beer” due to miners drinking it together after work in makeshift banquet halls.|
|1880||Adolph Coors buys out his partner Jacob Schueler to gain full ownership of the brewery and Banquet Beer.||Coors renames the brewery to the Adolph Coors Golden Brewery to reflect his sole ownership.|
|1916||Prohibition begins in Colorado, forcing the Adolph Coors Brewery to stop producing beer.||Coors manages to stay afloat by producing non-alcoholic drinks and ceramic products until Prohibition ends.|
|1933||Nationwide Prohibition ends after 13 years, allowing breweries to resume alcohol production.||Coors Banquet Beer makes its return after over a decade of not being produced.|
|1937||Coors Brewing Company officially rebrands Coors Golden Lager to Coors Banquet Beer.||This name change aims to boost sales during the Great Depression by emphasizing the beer’s communal roots and sense of nostalgia.|
|1970s||Coors Banquet is distributed only in western U.S. states, making it rare and coveted elsewhere.||The beer’s scarcity and mystique make it a cult favorite, driving up demand and leading to bootlegging.|
|1991||Improved transit capabilities allow Coors Banquet to be distributed nationwide to all 50 states.||For the first time, Coors Banquet can be enjoyed by drinkers across the entire country.|
Frequently Asked Questions about Coors Banquet
When was Coors Banquet first brewed?
Coors Banquet was first brewed in 1873 by founders Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler in Golden, Colorado. It was originally called Coors Golden Lager when production began.
Why is it called Banquet Beer?
The beer gained the nickname “Banquet Beer” in the late 1870s from miners who would drink it together after work in makeshift banquet halls and tents. This communal enjoyment led to the banquet association.
When did Coors Banquet get its official name?
The Coors Brewing Company officially changed the name from Coors Golden Lager to Coors Banquet Beer in 1937 as a marketing strategy to boost sales.
Was Coors Banquet available nationwide originally?
No, until 1991 Coors Banquet was only available in some western U.S. states. This rarity increased its cachet and made it sought after by bootleggers elsewhere.
How did Coors survive during Prohibition?
When Prohibition began in Colorado in 1916, Coors had to halt beer production. The company survived by focusing on non-alcoholic drinks and ceramic products until Prohibition ended in 1933.
Is Coors Banquet the oldest American beer brand?
No, Coors Banquet isn’t the absolute oldest – there are a few brands that pre-date it. But it is one of the oldest still-surviving American beer brands at nearly 150 years old.
What makes Coors Banquet unique?
Coors Banquet is brewed with Rocky Mountain spring water, which gives it a pure, crisp taste. It also has an incredibly rich history and narrative as a pioneer Colorado beer.
Why does Coors emphasize tradition and nostalgia in marketing?
Coors leverages the beer’s 140+ years of history and communal 19th century roots in its marketing to position Banquet as an authentic, enduring American classic.
Over its almost 150-year history, Coors Banquet Beer has cemented its status as a true American classic. While the exact origins can be traced back to 1873 in Golden, Colorado, the beer transcends any single moment in time. Through Prohibition, scarcity-fueled fandom, and generations of loyal drinkers, Coors Banquet has become an indelible part of American culture. Its name pays homage to the miners who first enjoyed “Banquet Beer” together after long days of grueling work. That communal enjoyment and sense of celebration continues today whenever someone cracks open a cold can or bottle of Coors Banquet. This pioneering brew stands the test of time by never forgetting its roots while still evolving to meet the present. The symbols of its high-quality craftsmanship, Rocky Mountain water, and rich history endure on each bottle of Coors Banquet, inviting new drinkers into the story while reminding longtime fans why this beer remains their loyal companion.