© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Pearl Beer Returns With A Look That Pays Homage To Its San Antonio Roots

courtesy pearlbeer.com

It’s been almost two decades since Pearl Beer was brewed in San Antonio, but it will make a comeback on store shelves with a new look. 

Pabst Brewing Company, which owns the Pearl brand, reports that the beer will hit shelves in San Antonio and Austin this month and then be distributed statewide in June.

The new-look bottles feature a few things that should be familiar to people in San Antonio. The redesigned label features “Pearl” in the distinct script lettering seen around the Pearl, and a return of the “xXx” badge once prominent on its bottles.

Credit courtesy pearlbeer.com

Pearl was once marketed as “xXx Pearl,” a nod to the triple-X signature of beer craftsmanship that dates back to 16th century Europe. Legend says that advance riders would visit taverns ahead of a royal party to taste the beer along the route, and the taverns selling the best beer were marked with three Xs at the entrance.

The beer has a long history in San Antonio that predates Prohibition. It was first brewed in the 1880s at the Pearl Brewery on the North Side of downtown until the brewery was closed in 2001. It was then acquired by Pabst and brewed in Fort Worth. The new version of Pearl will be brewed by Oasis Brewing in the Austin area.

“This relaunch of Pearl Beer is all about paying homage to Pearl’s deep roots while embracing the San Antonio of today,” said Pearl Brand Manager and San Antonio resident Daniel Crawford in a press release. “The rich and storied heritage that consumers have come to know and love for decades is the foundation of the brand.  It’s an honor and privilege to build upon that foundation with a renewed look and taste that reflects the continuous evolution of the City of San Antonio, and Texas as a whole."

The Beer Connoisseur reports the original recipe has been tweaked and given a citrus twist.

Even though the brewery has been closed for almost two decades, it is still a prominent fixture in San Antonio. The old brewery grounds were converted into mixed-use space including living complexes, retail and dining, and the brewery itself was restored as the Hotel Emma.

The hotel is named for Emma Koehler, who managed the Pearl Brewery after her husband, Otto, was shot and killed by one of his mistresses in 1914.

Emma Koehler and her nephew, Otto A. Koehler, on the Pearl Beer production line.
Credit Courtesy Hotel Emma
Emma Koehler and her nephew, Otto A. Koehler, on the Pearl Beer production line.

She helped the brewery survive Prohibition by converting its bottling operations to make soda, juice, water, and “near beer,” and branched into ice cream making, dry cleaning, and auto repair. Not a single brewery  job was lost to prohibition.

She handed off management to her nephew Otto in 1933, but remained a strong presence at the brewery until her death in 1943. The Pearl Brewing Company eventually came under the umbrella of Pabst Brewing Company in the 1980s and the beer was brewed in San Antonio until the brewery closed in 2001. Pearl was once sold in 47 states at the height of its popularity. This time around, it will only be marketed and distributed in Texas.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.