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How To Blow $9 Billion:
The Fallen Stroh Family

Forbes Magazine, by Kerry A. Dolan

Original Article

Posted By:StormCnter, 7/26/2014 6:47:13 AM

As with many of America's great fortunes, the Stroh family’s story starts with an immigrant: Bernhard Stroh, who arrived in Detroit from Germany in 1850 with $150 and a coveted family recipe for beer. He sold his brews door-to-door in a wheelbarrow. By 1890 his sons, Julius and Bernhard Jr., were shipping beer around the Great Lakes. Julius got the family through Prohibition by switching the brewery to ice cream and malt syrup production. And in the 1980s Stroh’s surged, emerging as one of America’s fastest-growing companies and the country’s third-largest brewing empire, behind only public behemoths Anheuser-Busch and

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Reply 1 - Posted by: NancyD, 7/26/2014 7:44:57 AM     (No. 9940706)

Stroh´s was my beer of choice back in high school and through college. Ha! Good stuff.

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Reply 2 - Posted by: texpub, 7/26/2014 8:00:16 AM     (No. 9940722)

I´m with poster #1. "It´s Stroh a party time!" Best beer in Michigan. So sad when I couldn´t find it in Texas, but Texas has other really good stuff. I adjusted well!!

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Reply 3 - Posted by: Country Boy, 7/26/2014 8:21:26 AM     (No. 9940734)

I think the beer trend is to be foreign owned. Think Anheuser Busch + Belgian brewer InBev SA.

Like so many other industries which can not compete as U.S. based, same with beers. Taxes and regulations are just too high.

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Reply 4 - Posted by: swarfer, 7/26/2014 8:22:15 AM     (No. 9940735)

Always wondered what happened to Stroh’s. Too bad they couldn’t have held on. They would be a popular alternative brand today. Bernhard Stroh sold his beer door to door. Sound like a familiar story? Empires are sustained by drive, determination and diligence not by borrowing money and hoping for the best.

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Reply 5 - Posted by: chumley, 7/26/2014 8:47:38 AM     (No. 9940766)

I remember sneaking Strohs in junior high. Now I know why it didnt do much for me. The article said it was watered down by then.
Made a lot of beer chains with the pull tabs. Cant do that any more either.

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Reply 6 - Posted by: ASAvet, 7/26/2014 8:49:11 AM     (No. 9940773)

After Army service, and learning in Germany what good beer is, Stroh´s was the only domestic brew I could find that tasted half-ways good. After graduating from a mid-west university I took a job in AZ where Stroh´s wasn´t available. Then in the late 80´s it showed up, and I was elated....until I bought some. It was nothing like the brew I had learned to love.

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Reply 7 - Posted by: zephyrgirl, 7/26/2014 9:41:01 AM     (No. 9940872)

My grandmother used to say, "rags to riches to rags in three generations." It took the Strohs a little longer, but the principle holds.

The Vanderbilts are another example.

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Reply 8 - Posted by: mitzi, 7/26/2014 9:44:34 AM     (No. 9940877)

I wonder where in Germany the Stroh family came from. Back in 1850 in Hesse, Germany, my first cousin 4x removed married someone named Andreas Stroh.

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Reply 9 - Posted by: NYBruin, 7/26/2014 9:55:46 AM     (No. 9940894)

I always wondered what happened to Henry Weinhard´s Private Reserve. A great marketing campaign if nothing else!

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Reply 10 - Posted by: walcb, 7/26/2014 9:59:31 AM     (No. 9940905)

All of this analysis and the only analysis of the beer itself was that they didn´t go the light route. No mention that the beer tasted like skunk pee (my opinion only of course, everyone´s taster is different).

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Reply 11 - Posted by: tank, 7/26/2014 10:15:48 AM     (No. 9940924)

Just polished off a six over July 4th. Still my favorite ´´mainstream´´ beer. Think I´ll pick up another six this afternoon.

I miss the Swedish Bikini Team.

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Reply 12 - Posted by: gartenfrau, 7/26/2014 10:39:27 AM     (No. 9940960)

There still is Stroh´s ice cream sold here in the Metro Detroit area. It´s pretty good too. I assume from this story is that it got its roots in Prohibition.

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Reply 13 - Posted by: Axeman, 7/26/2014 10:45:03 AM     (No. 9940972)

I am old enough to have enjoyed Stroh´s beer legally through the 80s. The 30 packs were a great idea for summer plus a bunch of 20-somethings. We went through a lot of them.
A German saying from those days was "Americans don´t buy beer, they buy the advertising."
We all liked the taste of Stroh´s and hated Coors at the time.

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Reply 14 - Posted by: TOOTALL, 7/26/2014 10:54:25 AM     (No. 9940993)

I couldn´t drink the stuff in the mid seventies! But the company sure was a success story in the early days.

It shows how bad decisions by an incompetent Chief Executive and a bunch of lo-fo leeches can suck a good thing dry!

Any parallels going on out there?

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Reply 15 - Posted by: zbogwan2, 7/26/2014 12:09:22 PM     (No. 9941071)

First bottle of beer I had was a Stroh´s in 1961.Strohs had a good taste then. Stroh´s was a good place to work and retire from in those days..no layoffs and all the beer you could drink on the job, as long as you didn´t get blitzed? I had a class at college with a female lab tech that worked for Stroh´s in the 80´s and she said management started treating employees badly then: once those other breweries were acquired Stroh´s main brewery on Gratiot was fazed out. This lab tech said that machinery was being moved out to other breweries and management was lying to employees about everything then. This girl lost her job there eventually to, along with the rest of the production workers. I often marveled at how big and beautiful the Stroh´s Brewery Building was and I even took a tour with my buddies. Same ended up in the tap room where we were served ice cold beer in frosted mugs. Oh well, that´s my Stroh´s recollections for this article.

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Reply 16 - Posted by: cheeflo, 7/26/2014 2:27:56 PM     (No. 9941233)

When I lived in Arizona in the early seventies, you could sometimes find Stroh´s among the imported beer. After a visit to Michigan, I took a case of Stroh´s Bohemian Beer back to AZ and it didn´t last long -- my neighbors, many from the midwest, paid me many visits, sometimes a couple of times a day. I´m not a beer drinker myself, but it was fun to treat my friends.

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