Anytime is Storz time.
Long ago, bar signs and beer taps lit up with that permissive slogan of the Storz Brewing Company. Now, with this week's announcement by John Markel, great-grandson of the founder of the historic Omaha brewery, Storz time is here again.
“It's great day for Omaha,” said Bill Baburek, owner of the Crescent Moon-Beertopia complex and proprietor of the forthcoming Infusion brewery. Baburek, an Omaha beer historian, has collected Storz memorabilia since the late 1970s. The return of the iconic brand — at one time, Storz outsold all competitors in Omaha — marks a moment Baburek never thought he'd see. “I have a soft place in my heart for Storz.”
Omaha's craft beer scene has boomed in recent years, but none of the new arrivals come loaded with a bloodline history dating back to the early days of Omaha brew-chugging.
None until Storz.
News of the family's return to libation-making brings with it a spirit of hometown rejoicing, even among drinkers born well after the original brewery closed in 1972.
From Arthur Guinness to Adolphus Busch to the fictional exploits of a casual Dos Equis drinker, nothing goes better with beer-infused nostalgia than a good, old-fashioned origin story. So with that in mind, some Storz facts to mold the myth:
Gottlieb Storz was born in 1852 in Germany and orphaned at an early age. By 14, he was brewing beer.
The brewery that became the Storz empire was founded in Omaha in the early 1860s and sold to a man named Ebenezer Dallow. In 1865, Dallow sold to Joseph Baumann, whose wife, Wilhemina, took over the brewery after his death. In 1884, Wilhemina sold out to an ambitious young foreman in her employ. The foreman's name: Gottlieb Storz.
The Storz brand name didn't actually appear until after the turn of the century. Before then, Storz fashioned his company the Omaha Brewing Association. From that point until the company's sale in 1966, it remained a family business.
Prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933, shuttered many breweries around the country. Not Storz. The Omaha company perservered through the dry era by churning out soft drinks and nonalcoholic brew.
When the national alcohol ban was lifted, Storz hit its stride. In its heyday, the company grew to 400 employees and produced hundreds of thousands of barrels each year. Run by Gottlieb and sons Adolph, Arthur Sr. and Robert, the brand name became synonymous with beer in Omaha.
The eldest Storz showed up to the brewery until the day he died in 1938. According to an obituary published that year in The World-Herald, he considered work his hobby. On his 85th birthday, Storz gave each of his employees a check for $100. His birthday cake weighed 150 pounds.
In 1966, company president Adolph and chairman Arthur Sr. sold Storz to an Iowa investment group, which in turn sold to Minneapolis-based Grain Belt. The Storz brewery shuttered in 1972.
Despite the company's slide into closure, Storz was ahead of its time in some ways. As early as the 1930s, the company marketed a seasonal beer called Winterbru. It also was one of the first breweries to start canning its beers.
A few of those old, crusty cans sit on display at Louie M's Burger Lust Cafe in South Omaha, including an empty container of Storz Gold Crest, once billed as a “world's champion beer.”
On Friday morning, patrons reminisced about the good old days — in their experience, the late 1940s and early 1950s — when a case of Storz Triumph set you back just four bucks and local breweries sponsored high school baseball.
Former City Councilman Subby Anzaldo, 80, recalled passing the Storz bottling plant on his way to his uncle's jewelry store. He wasn't much of a drinker, but on occasion he sipped some of the local brew.
“When it was chilled, it was darned good,” he said.
“Everyone drank Storz beer,” said John Stella, 78. “It was the Omaha beer.”
A waitress overhearing the conversation walked over with an origin story of her own.
“I was created on Storz,” she said with a smile. “That and no TVs.”
CORRECTION: John Markel is the great-grandson of Gottlieb Storz, founder of Storz, the historic Omaha brewery. An earlier version of this story misidentified the family relationship.
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» Benson Brewery
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» Blue Blood Brewing Company
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» Empyrean Brewing Co.
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Empyrean offers a wide variety of seasonal and house beers, including its Luna Sea ESB, which won a silver medal at the 2006 World Beer Cup.
» Infusion Brewing Co.
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Benson will be getting another brewery soon enough. Infusion isn't set to open until September, but its beers are already making the rounds on the festival circuit.
» Modern Monks Brewery
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» Nebraska Brewing Company
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» Lucky Bucket Brewing Co.
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» Loop Brewing Company
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» Thunderhead Brewing Company
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» Zipline Brewing Company
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» Granite City Food and Brewery
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» Schilling Bridge Winery and Microbrewery
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» Soaring Wings Vineyard
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» Spilker Ales
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» Jaipur Brewing Company
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» Okoboji Brewing Company
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» West O Beer
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» Keg Creek Brewing Company
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» CIB Brewery
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-- Researched by Andrea Kszystyniak