Schoenling Little Kings Cream Ale
This month let's look at an old favorite of mine from Cincinnati, a Little Kings Cream Ale. OK, this version was brewed in Pennsylvania, but the brand was a longtime favorite in Cincinnati, made by the Schoenling Brewery.
Schoenling Brewing was founded in 1934 as the Schoenling Brewing and Malting Company in Cincinnati. It was unusual in that it was not a pre-prohibiton brewery brought back, but a new firm. They made a number of different brands, their Lager, a Bock beer, several ales, Top Hat Beer and Top Hat Ale, Silk Hat, Moon River, and others. By 1970 they were making basically their Lager beer, Fehr's (purchased when Louisville's Fehr's closed) and Sir Edward Stout. Schoenling Lager Beer and Fehr's appeared in cans. The Fehr's must not have been a big seller in Ohio as I don't remember ever seeing it. Perhaps it sold mostly south of the Ohio River in the brand's old territory. I always liked the Lager Beer can because it featured Riverfront Stadium, home of the Reds, on it.
Little Kings was created in 1958. It was sold in these little 7 oz green bottles. According to one local story, the small bottles were for men stopping for a beer on the way home from work (some versions say at the Montgomery Inn) who didn't want to consume an entire 12 oz bottle before driving. That may just be an urban legend but smaller sized cans and bottles were sometimes marketed as "just the right amount" for those who didn't want to consume a full 12 ozs. In some cases, such as the Fox Deluxe 8 oz can from the 1930s, it was sold as the perfect amount for a nightcap. In the 1950s smaller cans were marketed for women (who were assumed not to want as much to drink) or for Malt Liquor, which had a much higher alcohol content.
These little bottles were really popular. I remeber stopping with buddies to buy an 8 pack before heading to the drive-in to watch "Moonraker." Or buying a bottle to drink with a sandwich or some pizza. I'm pretty sure there wer esigns advertising it in pizza places like Marion's and Cassanos. Best of all, Little Kings Cream Ale was really good.
At some point it became Schoenling's main brand, replacing their beer as their main focus. Their last canned Beer appeared in the mid to late 1970s. Little Kings remained in the popular little bottles (and on draft if I remember right) and did not appear in cans until about 1985. It came out in different sizes, including 12 and 24 oz cans. Schoenling still made the beer, as well as Big Jug and Top Hat (which also appeared in cans).
In 1986 Schoenling purchased their last hometown rival, Hudepohl, to form the Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Company. Advertising themselves as "Cincinnati's Brewing Company" all their production moved to the Schoenling facility. They kept producing Little Kings, as well as Hudepohl, Pace, Christian Moerlein, Midnight Dragon, and a host of other brands. In 1997 Hudepohl-Schoenling was sold to Boston Beer (Samuel Adams). After 1999 their brands were made in Frederick, Maryland and LaCrosse, Wisconsin. In 2008 Christian Moerlein, a new Cincinnati micro-brewery, bought the rights to the brand and it returned to Cincinnati. (although it was still brewed in Pennslyvania).