Cold Schaefer beer at hot Albany bar brings back good memories


It’s amazing to me what triggers a memory, what pushes a story into consciousness after years of hibernation. This happened to me last weekend in a hot dark narrow bar in Albany called Valentine’s. Loud music, good people (many of whom were very much younger), and a type of beer that I have not seen, or drank, for literally 35 years.

Schaefer. That beer of the famous jingle, of the iconic label, was resurrected for me Friday night. There it was being advertised at the bar like it was the newest microbrew from the hippest microbrewery.

Crazy, right? Of course, I had to have one. I can’t say it was delicious but I can’t say it was horrible. My friends rant and rave at me over my pedestrian taste in beer. I admit to ordering a Coors Light as often as I order a Sam Adams. Don’t know why. I have recently discovered a new favorite, a McSorley’s Irish Black Lager. That should score me some points with my those with much more discriminating palates.

But that Schaefer beer can,  the same I remember from 35 years ago, brought back the memory that maybe a lot of us have in common. That memory of adolescence and curiosity. For me, it’s a harmless and innocent memory.

It’s that memory of when you had your first drink as a teenager. For me, that daring escapade involved the aforementioned Schaefer beer. My dad would get cases of the stuff from the beer distributor in Albertson, on Long Island. He’d store some in the basement, loose cans. Why would he miss a couple beers?

So Billy C from two houses down and I pilfered a pair. Sneaked them outside to the little bluff that overlooked the parking lot of the former Howard Johnson’s restaurant on Willis Avenue, just off Exit 37 of the Long Island Expressway. Warm Schaefer beer. Big shots drinking warm beer on a warm summer night.

And there was Schaefer beer being sold at this Albany bar. Maybe it’s sold there because it was once brewed in Albany, from 1950 to the early 1970s.  Maybe it’s sold everywhere and I just don’t get out much anymore.

It turns out it was, up until the mid-70s, the most popular beer in America. I didn’t know my father had such discerning taste. Now, it’s brewed by Pabst Brewing Co.

I remember the jingle. We’d hear it a lot going to and from Mets games at Shea Stadium:

Schaefer / is the / one beer to have when you’re / having more than one / Schafer / pleasure / doesn’t fade even / when your thirst is done / the most rewarding flavor in this man’s world / for people who are having fun / Schafer / is the / one beer to have when you’re / having more than one

Poetry, eh?

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9 thoughts on “Cold Schaefer beer at hot Albany bar brings back good memories

  1. Pingback: Spinach for Popeye | Fancy Notions

    • Wow. When I was in college the beer of choice, for a short time, was generic beer. I swear. Each bottle had a yellow label with he word BEER on it. I think a six pack cost $2.75. It was nasty stuff.

  2. Schaeffer was a beer of choice when I was in college in the mid-80s, not because it was great, but because it was really cheap. As a fledgling beer drinker I didn’t much care for it then, preferring beers with a lighter taste. Now, I have a case of it in my basement fridge. I’m sure it won’t win any “best beer” awards, but as my fellow Hall Of Famer TMC says, its not that bad.

  3. Welcome back to the Schaefer Experience. As a co-founding member of the self-proclaimed Schaefer Hall of Fame, I’m glad to read how you enjoyed it. Your description of your immediate reaction is spot-on with folks we get to try Schaefer for the first time. They’ll sip, pause, purse their lips a bit and then say “ya know, its not that bad.”

  4. Warm beer on a hot summer night…love it…For me, the exact same story, ‘cept replace Schaefer with Genesee, and the LI Expressway with Chaumont Bay, NY, and there you have it.

    Bob Allen
    Syracuse

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