Brew News

The Long History of Reading Premium

Reading Premium Beer is a staple within Pennsylvania’s beer history. The town opened one of the first known breweries, which was built back in 1763, and laid the foundation of beer’s importance to the Reading area. This sparked what would become a long-running staple within the community, Reading Premium Beer.

This year, Sly Fox Brewing has acquired the Reading Premium brand and is reviving the beer with a new recipe that has the beer tasting better than ever. To celebrate the return, we’ve put together a timeline of Reading Premium’s long history.


1886:

Reading Brewing Company was founded by Philip Bessinger with a brewery at Ninth and Laurel streets in Reading.

The beer was originally called Old Reading Beer and was marketed as a Pennsylvania Dutch beer.

The brewery was making around 1,200 barrels a year.

1891:

Reading Brewing Company is growing steadily. The production of Old Reading Beer reaches 50,000 barrels a year.

1923-1933:

Prohibition strikes in 1920 and Reading Brewing Company struggles. They officially closed in 1928.

The building was set to be knocked down or taken over, but U.S. Marshals couldn’t break the padlock on the front door and left the brewery intact.

1934 – 1951:

Reading Brewery reopens and runs a retro advertising campaign focused on the nostalgia for simpler times before prohibition.

1952:

The recipe of Old Reading Beer is modified, and the beer is also renamed to Old Reading Premium.

The brewery added a slogan to the brand: “The Friendly Beer for Friendly People”

1958:

Low sales pushed the brewery to continue to reformulate the beer, and the name was once again tweaked, now called Reading Premium Beer.

The slogan was also altered to “The Friendly Beer for Modern People”

This decision is successful, and Reading Brewing Company thrives into the 1970s.

1976:

Due to the rise of larger macro breweries, Reading Brewing Company shuts its doors and Reading Premium Beer disappears.

1977:

C. Schmidt & Sons, also known as Christian Schmidt Brewing Company, purchases and revives the label.

Reading Premium Beer changes hands several times until 1999, when it is once again retired.

2006:

Legacy Brewing purchases and revives Reading Premium Beer, producing it with the original recipes.

2009:

New York’s Ruckus Brewing Co. buys the rights to the recipes and label of Reading Brewing Company and Reading Premium Beer.

2019:

Reading Premium comes home.

Sly Fox acquires the rights and changes the recipe slightly to better suit their equipment and make a better tasting liquid. Reading Premium Beer is now back on the shelves!

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