Fritz Maytag bought Anchor Brewing in 1965 and thus began the history of modern American craft beer. It was another 15 years before craft grandpappy Sierra Nevada opened its doors.
While Capital was begun in 1984, Sprecher actually managed to get its beer to market first in 1985. Started by Randy Sprecher, a supervisor at Pabst Brewing in Milwaukee, much of Wisconsin's craft brewing heritage is owed to this oft-forgotten craft brewery on Milwaukee's North Side.
Going back to 1988, Sprecher has consistently been winning awards not just for its quality beer, but its trailblazing business. You see, the 1980s and early 1990s were not a good time to be a craft brewery. The masses (that's you and me) were not particularly interested in drinking full-bodied flavorful beer. We were too busy debating the relative merits of "taste great" versus "less filling" and oggling Spuds Mackenzie betwixt two buxom beauties. It was during this time that American audiences were bombarded with Born on Dates and the Bud Bowl.
I have no idea if Black Bavarian is Sprecher's true "flagship" but for all intents and purposes it is. It is its best known, most well-loved beer. It has held up well over the ages, and heck, it's probably Wisconsin's flagship. We make great dark lagers is a universal stereotype because of Black Bavarian. Today beer geeks from all over the country come to Wisconsin and seek it out. New Glarus Wisconsin Cherry and Sprecher Black Bavarian; those were the first two requests from beer geeks back home when I moved to Wisconsin.
It would be delusional to say that Wisconsin craft brewing wouldn't be here with out Randy Sprecher. But it would be entirely accurate to say that Wisconsin craft brewing would not be what it is today without Sprecher Brewing Company. And, for that we should all thank Randy Sprecher and the folks at Sprecher Brewing Company.
Thank you and Prost!