Since 1950 the Chicago Cubs have had a relationship with the G. Heileman Brewing Company and Old Style Beer. Next year, if the owners of the team have their way, 63 years of history with the quintessential Chicago baseball club will end when the beer concessions are switched exclusively to Anheuser-Busch brands. The decision has caused a storm of controversy and activity among fans of the beer known as “Chicago’s Beer. “
The history of how Old Style became the preferred beer of Chicagoans began over 100 years before the brew became the sponsor of the Cubs.
In 1948 Wisconsin became a state, just a few years later the future owner and brewer of Old Style, Gottlieb Heileman arrived from Germany and settles in La Crosse, Wis. In 1872, Heileman broke from the La Crosse brewery he had been working at and founded the G. Heileman Brewing Company. The beer that would later be known as Old Style began its life in the 1890sS as Gold Leaf Lager. In 1902 the beer was renamed Old Style began showing up on local grocery shelves. In that same year, the brewery achieved a volume of 160,000. But, it took a bottler’s strike in 1935 for Old Style to cross the state line from Wisconsin to Illinois and become known as “Chicago’s Beer.” Fifteen years later, after firmly establishing itself as the beer of choice in the Windy City, Old Style became a sponsor of the Chicago Cubs and firmly entrenched itself at Wrigley Stadium.
The decision to switch the beer vendors at Wrigley has fans up in arms. Social media outlets have been flooded with negative remarks and tersely worded tirades against the change. The brewery itself has mounted a campaign on their website to let fans sign a petition to “save your tradition.”
According to an article attributed to the AP, the management of the Cubs says the deal means the removal of Old Style signs but not necessarily the beer from the stadium. Only time will tell if the brewery can rally enough support and apply enough pressure to remain in Wrigley.