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Stories Behind 7 Famous Beer Logos

The next time you open a bottle of beer, don't just chug the brew - take a look at the logo on the label. Ever wonder who St. Pauli Girl actually is? Or why there's the mysterious number "33" on Rolling Rock beer bottles? Read on. Neatorama takes a look at the Stories Behind 7 Famous Beer Logos:

St. Pauli Girl: Probably Not Just a Waitress


Photo: safoocat [Flickr]

What's not to like about the St. Pauli Girl? She's blonde, big bosomed, and brings us big frothy mugs of beer! But what most people don't realize is that she's not exactly just a waitress. Yep, St. Pauli is the famous red light district of Hamburg, Germany.

In 1977, St. Pauli Girl Beer started to choose a spokesmodel to represent the beer brand and appear on the popular St. Pauli Girl poster. In 1999, they started using Playboy magazine playmates as the girl (the 2008 St. Pauli Girl is Irina Voronina). Here's the gallery of St. Pauli Girls from 1977 to 2007: http://www.stpauligirl.com/pastgirls.php

Pabst Blue Ribbon

This one's pretty straightforward. PBR was originally named Best Select, then Pabst Select and finally Pabst Blue Ribbon, named because the practice of tying blue ribbons around the beer bottleneck from 1882 until 1916.


Pabst advertisement from 1911 (Source)

Rolling Rock 33

The mysterious '33' has been on the label of Rolling Rock since the Latrobe Brewing Company brewed its first batch in 1939, but what does it actually stand for? Theories about the origin of the cryptic '33', some undoubtedly hatched in bar arguments, range from the year 1933 (the year Prohibition was repealed), how many steps it took to walk from the brewmaster's office to the brewing floor, the number of the racing horse on the label, and even the highest level of Freemasonry (33rd degree).

According to James Tito, the former CEO of Latrobe Brewing, the number '33' may actually be an accident. When the founders of the company came up with the slogan

Rolling Rock - From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you.

someone wrote '33' at the end to indicate the number of words, but the bottle printer mistakenly incorporated it into the label graphic. They decided to keep the 33 instead of having to scrap and replace the bottles. Even though the slogan had been changed several times in the history of Rolling Rock, the company had made sure to use the same number of words. (Source - see argument against this reasoning within)

(Image: Gravy Bread)

Heineken: the Friendly 'e'

The logo of Heineken is rather simple: it consists of the five-pointed red star and the word "Heineken" in green, but there's something remarkable about it: Alfred Henry (Freddy) Heineken, the grandson of the founder of the company, Gerard Heineken, helped develop the company's own typeface (common today, but rare back then). He insisted that the 'e' in the logo should look friendlier. Indeed, the three letters 'e' in the logo are slightly tilted backwards to make it seem that they are smiling.

Guinness: Harp of Brian Boru

Arthur Guinness brewed his first stout in 1759, it took Guinness over 100 years later to select its logo - the harp of Brian Boru - a gaelic harp in Ireland's heraldic emblem and a symbol of Irish unity, not to mention the Euro coin. By the way, Ireland is the only country in the world with a musical instrument as a national emblem.

Brian Boru was the king of Ireland that ruled from 1002 to 1014 and protected and/or freed - depending on who you ask - the Irish people from the Vikings. The harp named after him, however, was actually much, much older. According to Celtic myth, the gaelic harp was owned by the Dagda, a king/god/father-figure, that can summon the seasons.

There's actually a real instrument named the harp of Brian Boru. It's one of three surviving medieval harps dating from the 14th or 15th century and is on display at Trinity College Dublin.

By the way, if you are named O'Brien or O'Brian, then you're a descendant of King Brian Boru - so a toast (Guinness, of course) is in order!

Stella Artois: the Horn

Stella Artois was launched as a Christmas beer in 1926 - its name is a combination of the latin word for "star" and Sebastian Artois, a brewmaster in the Den Hoorn Brewery (founded 1366) in Louvain, Belgium.

The logo of Stella Artois beer reflects the beer's origin - Den Hoorn is Dutch for "The Horn," and the now-defunct brewery lives on as the horn prominently displayed on the top of the label of every bottle of Stella Artois beer. The fancy frame around the name is also in the style of Flemish architecture in the city.

Bass Red Triangle


(L) Bass & Co's Pale Ale, the very first trademark registered in the UK (1876) at the Intellectual Property Office; (R) current logo

Bass Pale Ale's Red Triangle logo may be simple, but it's pretty darned special: it's the very first trademark registered in Britain. When trademark registration law took effect on January 1, 1876, a Bass employee was sent to wait overnight outside the registrar's office in order to be the first in line to register a trademark the next morning. Bass & Co. Brewery got the first two trademarks, the first being the Bass Red Triangle for their pale ale and the second the Bass Red Diamond for their strong ale.

Bass is also the most frequently featured beer in fine arts. Bottles of Bass beer can be seen in Manet's 1882 painting Bar at the Folies-Bergère.


Bar in den Folies-Bergère by Edouard Manet (1882)

Bonus: Old Milwaukee's Swedish Bikini Team

Okay, so this isn't exactly about beer logos - but brewers often advertise their beers in outrageous manners, and there's nothing quite as outrageous as the notorious Old Milwaukee's Swedish Bikini Team:


[YouTube Link]

Ironically, there's nothing Swedish about the Swedish Bikini Team - the women were all played by American actresses wearing platinum blonde wigs!

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Obviously we haven't talked about many other beer logos. So if your favorite beer isn't listed here, why not tell us all about it in the comment section?

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If you like the article above, take a look at the rest of Neatorama's Logo series:

- Evolution of Tech Logos
- Evolution of Car Logos
- Stories Behind 10 Famous Food Logos
- Stories Behind Hollywood Studio Logos


The 33 in Rolling Rock is a printer's mark, indicating how many words to be printed and therefore, how much the label printing cost.

It is also the year that prohibition in the US was repealed. Coincidence? Possibly.
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Another bit of trivia on the Guinness harp: The Guinness logo is an accurate depiction of the real Brian Boru harp, but the harp on the Euro is a mirror image. This is because Guinness copyrighted the logo.
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"By the way, Ireland is the only country in the world with a musical instrument as a national emblem."

I love this site, just for little sidenotes like that ^_^ And I know it's not a major player now, but about 30 years ago you could find Schlitz anywhere, so what gives with the Bull?
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The Story of the famous Rothaus-Biergit (beer from the black forest)

http://fudder.de/artikel/2009/02/12/rothaus-wer-hat-die-biergit-erfunden/
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You are wrong in your description of the Rolling Rock label that "33" is the highest level in Freemasonry. The highest degree in Masonry is the third degree, the "Sublime Degree of a Master Mason". All others are adjunct degrees, requiring one to attain the MM degree before applying for those. Moreover, the 33rd degree is totally honorary, and is conferred only rarely on those Masons who exhibit the virtues of a Mason.
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"The Guinness logo is an accurate depiction of the real Brian Boru harp, but the harp on the Euro is a mirror image. This is because Guinness copyrighted the logo."

Mmmmm.... the coat of arms of the Republic of Eire, the great seal of the Irish Free State, the Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom and the flag of Leinster all show the harp in the same fashion as the Euro coin. That "copyrighted harp" thing looks more like a publicity gimmick by Guiness to me. By the way, that harp is a beautiful symbol.
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Few know the origin of Billy Beer. Founded in Dalhart, TX in 1899, the Bulpis brewery was originally a cattle ranch owned by George "Snake Mouth" Bush. At one point, his son Dub, got lost out on the range while herding bulls. In order to survive, he was forced to consume whatever liquids he could find. Later that afternoon, he was discovered by his mother and after several weeks in recovery, he decided to bottle the warm, foamy broth he had developed a taste for while lost several hundred yards from the homestead. Originally labeled as "Texas Range Mud" beer, the great, great grandson, George W. Bush, sold the rights to Billy Carter in exchange for free Range Mud or Bulpis, as we know it today, for the rest of his life. Medical experts claim that this is why the ex-president has no lips.
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Nah if it were free mason it would have to be 33 and a 3rd degree. As for it yeah, dropping the ball like that on pbr, a clean cut case of post hoc proctor hoc.
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“The Guinness logo is an accurate depiction of the real Brian Boru harp, but the harp on the Euro is a mirror image. This is because Guinness copyrighted the logo.”

Mmmmm…. the coat of arms of the Republic of Eire, the great seal of the Irish Free State, the Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom and the flag of Leinster all show the harp in the same fashion as the Euro coin. That “copyrighted harp” thing looks more like a publicity gimmick by Guiness to me. By the way, that harp is a beautiful symbol."

Indeed. The harp on the Euro (and previous currencies used in Ireland such as the punt) is a representation of the harp of Brian Boru. The Guinness logo is actually reversed as they were not permitted to use it as their logo under Irish law. So they reversed the image of the harp so it would technically be a different image.
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Great piece.

Although I've heard the most rumors about the Rolling Rock "33" I think the story of the Bass Red Triangle being the first registered trademark in Britain in 1876 is the most interesting story. It's one I'll likely be repeating for the rest of my life whenever a buddy orders a Bass.
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Know why an empty or sideways bottle of Molson Export is sometimes referred to as an Armadillo? The ship in the logo resembles an armadillo when the bottle is lying on its side.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Molson_Export_Lable_Logo.png
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Your explaination re why "Pabst Blue Ribbon" is crapola. It was re-named "Blue Ribbon" because it won a blue ribbon in a blind taste test. Just that simple.
Your maundering re why the number 33 on beer bottles (in the US, in France, in Germany) is much, much worse. Once you start a meandering speculation on "why" something, you immediately divorce logic and any hope for the truth. Supposition based on zero facts never go anywhere. I contacted some brewing companies in Europe who used 33 for many years before Rolling Rock was born (1939). The reason for 33 is so simple in boggles the mind. I am not going to tell you. Find out for yourself. Or keep on jabbering and maundering about 1933 and numbers of words and letters and etc. I will give you a hint. It has to do with the metric measurement of liquid volume.
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