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COM: June 2003

Old Georgetown: circa 1953

(Rewritten, October 2008)

Old Georgetown. Old Georgetown. Old Georgetown.

    Old Georgetown Beer was produced by The Christian Heurich (pronounced HIRE ICH) Brewery in Washington, D.C. starting in early 1950.  Intended to be a replacement for their Senate Beer after it began to lose market share, Old Georgetown was at first only available on draft.  In early Spring 1950 it began to be canned.  There was also an Old Georgetown Ale and a Bock, which appeared only in bottles (and draft?) but neither was produced in great quantities.  Judging from the number of cans that turn up in dumps, Old Georgetown was a successful brand.  According to a former salesman that emailed me in 2008, when the last can of beer rolled down the line at Heurich in early 1956, it was an Old Georgetown.   Senate Beer continued to be produced, as was Senate Bock for at least one year, but the brewery's advertising was heavily weighted towards Old Georgetown as the company's mainstay.   Newspaper ads, POP (point of purchase) ads, things such as coasters, all were designed to sell this new brand. 

     

    Old Georgetown ad.
    An Old Georgetown ad from The Northern Virginia Sun, April 14, 1950.

    Old Georgetown Promotions

    Besides the newspaper ads and things such as coasters, posters, signs, etc, Christian Heurich also used radio advertisements with an Old Georgetown radio jingle (1.59 mb) This jingle is from 1954.   They also used bumper stickers, which are now quite rare! (I wish I had one, this one belongs to a friend and fellow collector)

      Old Georgetwon bumper sticker.

    Old Georgetown was also the featured brand when Heurich sponsored Washington Senators' games on TV in the early 1950s.  Listeners were sometimes advised to buy a case of Old Georgetown and relax and listen to a game or to watch on their new TV.

     

    1951 Old Georgetown ad.
    1951 Old Georgetown ad, click to see larger.

    Old Georgetown Cans

    There were two major designs and a few variations.  All the designs featured a map marked with some of the landmarks of Washington, D.C. including...

    • Dumbarton Oaks
    • The Georgetown University 'castle'
    • the Francis Scott Key Home
    • the Cumberland Canal
    • Rock Creek
    • Pennsylvania Avenue
    • the White House
    • the Hagerstown-Frederick Turnpike
    • The Potomack (sic) River
    • and...
    • The Christian Heurich Brewery!
      Old Georgetown, first label.
     
    The first design.

    The first design, sometimes referred to as the "small label" can only lasted from March-June 1950.   While not rare, it is a much scarcer can than the second design.

    The second design, the so-called "large label" was used from the summer of 1950 until the brewery closed in January 1956.  This is a rather common can, showing up frequently in dumps, and in 2008, a hundred air-filled "display cans" were discovered, many of them selling on eBay. 

    The second design has several variations.  The first variation (USBC # 106-17 ) was produced by American Can Company and has a red compass on the map (below the "R" in "BEER.")   The second variation, which is pictured above (USBC # 106-16), has a compass without the red and was made by Continental Can Company.  The same variations supposedly exist with the earlier can as well but I've never seen them.  There is also a can made by Crown Cork and Seal which sometimes has different shades of brown for the border around the map.  One of the CC&S cans actually has an off-yellow border (see below).  We've dumped this cans in a couple of locations in central Virginia and it does not appear to be a result of fading. 

      Old Georgetown, first label.
    Old Georgetown with keglined.
       light border.

    The first Old Georgetown can. This is not the can from my collection, alas.  (USBC 106-15)
     The Old Georgetown comes both with and without a keglined panel.  They seem to be about equally common.  A scarce variation.  This brown border around the map is a light yellow-brown.  Enough have been found to be sure this is not just a faded label.  Made by CC&S it is far less common that the brown-bordered cans.
      The first one, USBC 106-15. It only lasted a short while so I have not seen any variations.
       
       
       
       

     


    You can read more at my page devoted to the history of the Christian Heurich Brewery and my October 2008 Can of the Month.

    INFORMATION WANTED:

    I have begun my research for a book on the Christian Heurich Brewery.  I would love to talk to anyone connected to the brewery, especially former brewery workers, salespeople, etc.  If you have memories of the brewery and its beer, or information you wish to share please contact me.

     

    Sources Used:

     

    Beer Can Collectors of America.  United States Beer Cans (Beer Can Collectors of America: Fenton, Mo) 106.

    Heurich, Gary. "The Christian Heurich Brewing Company, 1872-1956," Records of the Columbia Historical Society of Washington, D.C. 1973-1974 Francis Coleman Rosenberger, ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1976) 604-615.

    Remick, Bruce.  "Christian Heurich Brewery"  Beer Can Collectors News Report  Sept.-Oct. 1978 (8:5) : 23-26.

    Van Wieren, Dale P. American Breweries II (West Point, PA., East Coast Breweriana Association, 1995)  60.
     

 

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