National Brewing Company’s National Premium
Now, this is a cool experience. Founded in 1936, National Premium used to be the beer that you’d buy when you had an extra nickel, to step it up a notch. It was a kind of craft beer before there were craft beers — “a little more expensive,” the company’s spokesman says, “because it wasn’t brewed in mass quantities.”
So what happened to the original National Premium? Well, time. And some poor decisions. The truth is, like a couple of the old beers (See: Schlitz), National Premium was bought up (now listen — there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that) and sold out (definitely something wrong with that). As National Premium switched owners and companies, it underwent recipe changes in the 1950s, ‘70s and the ’90s. The people of Baltimore who grew up with this beer had some tolerance — but not that much, and in 1996, Stroh Brewing Company decided to bury this Maryland classic.
And they would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for that meddling Tim Miller — a local guy (with a beer-drinkers name) who bought the trademark at an auction and went out looking hopefully for old brewmasters in search of its original recipe. Luckily for beer drinkers everywhere, he found it, and after teaming up with Fordham Brewing Company of Annapolis, revived this piece of brewing history.
Through TheDC’s lovely Krista Staley and National Brewing Company Communication Director Matt Oczkowski (also a beer-drinking name), a six-pack ended up on our desk a few weeks before its release date.
With a light, golden body underneath a medium white head, grandpa’s favorite Bohemian Pilsner gives forth a classic, sharp nose that matches its clean, fresh taste — one that leaves a sharpness on the tip of the tongue and a malty flavor at the back. “I usually don’t drink manly beers,” Krista said, “but this is good.”
“We wanted to go back to the taste that people knew,” Oczkowski told TheDC.
Made with Cara-pils Malt and Cascade and Hallertau hops, and weighing in 5 percent ABV, the National Premium will be unleashed in Maryland by Memorial Day weekend, with select local tastings in the meantime. The master plan, Oczkowski said, is to make the beer available throughout the Mid-Atlantic area — Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware.
In the area but can’t wait to get a hold of this old timer? Try signing up as an “Ambassador of Good Cheer” — a throwback, Oczkowski said, to the Mad Men who once advertised this product — and stay tuned for updates and special contacts.