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Article Archive - Whatever Happened to Southern Select

26 Nov 2019 9:16 PM | Daniel Bora (Administrator)

From the Spring 2004 Breweriana Collector - By Bob Kay

Southern Select!! When you think about it, it's a great brand name for beer, especially a beer from Texas!!. I did a little digging into the brands history and here is what I came up with.

The brand appears to have originated in the late 1890's from the Houston Ice & Brewing Co. This brewery seemed to have a knack for selecting really neat brand names including Southern Select, Magnolia and Hiawatha. The Southern Select label pictured with the white background is the earliest example I have and appears to date Pre-1900. Sometime after the turn of the century, the design was changed to a brown background. As you might expect, the Southern Select label proved quite popular and was likely Houston Ice and Brewing's leading brand when prohibition forced Texas breweries to close in 1918.

Some 15 years later, when national Prohibition was repealed, the brand reappeared, but under somewhat curious circumstances. Houston Ice & Brewing Co. did not return to brewing, but brought Southern Select back while operating as a distributor. The curious part is they contracted to have it brewed in Brooklyn, New York by Liebmann Breweries Inc.??? Wow! This beer, obviously for the Texas market, was brewed in Brooklyn? The distribution costs must have been huge! There must be more to this than meets the eye, but I haven't figured it out. (picture the round blue Southern Select label with this text)

It looks like the New York connection didn't last and rights to this popular brand were sold to the Galveston-Houston Breweries, who quickly reintroduced a similar brown label design. This brown Southern Select label grew familiar and popular with Texas beer drinkers and lasted from the early 1930's through the early 1950's. The add-on sticker for military shipments suggest that the boys overseas also were able to enjoy a good ole Texas brew. A bock version was also introduced, but likely fell by the wayside due to capacity or wartime shortages. That brown label must have had staying power, as it enjoyed a 20 year run. Finally, increasing competition from the national marketers took it's toll.. A last ditch white label design wasn't the answer and by 1955 the Galveston-Houston Breweries closed and that neat ole brew became history.

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