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Houston History: A look back at Houston’s Grand Prize Beer, the best-selling beer in Texas

Cheers to history!

Photograph of a group of men sitting /standing near two automobiles. The automobiles have deer that the men killed in a hunt tied to the hoods of the cars. An African-American man is seated on a box of " Grand Prize Lager Beer" in the front center of the two cars. Each man is holding a bottle of Grand Prize beer. The man on far left is Albert Peyton George. Brick building to left. Other buildings in background.
Photograph of a group of men sitting /standing near two automobiles. The automobiles have deer that the men killed in a hunt tied to the hoods of the cars. An African-American man is seated on a box of " Grand Prize Lager Beer" in the front center of the two cars. Each man is holding a bottle of Grand Prize beer. The man on far left is Albert Peyton George. Brick building to left. Other buildings in background. (University of North Texas Libraries)


HOUSTON – Imagine what an Astros or Texans game would be like without a cold beer. Nearly 90 years ago during the Prohibition era, you couldn’t find a single ounce of beer in Houston.

But everything changed at the end of Prohibition, and Houston would introduce a new beer that would capture the attention of the state of Texas.

It was 1933 when Howard Hughes, aviator, movie producer and billionaire founded the Gulf Brewing Co. on the grounds of Hughes Tool Company.

He sought the best brewer at the time, hiring Belgium brewmaster Frank Brogniez from Houston Ice and Brewing to create a new beer, and so Grand Prize Beer was born.

Grand Prize Beer, Gulf Brewing Company
Grand Prize Beer, Gulf Brewing Company (KPRC)

The new brew was named after Brogniez’s original 1912 beer, Southern Select. It was a recipe that was awarded the Grand Prize at the last International Conference of Brewers, beating more than 4,000 competing brewers.

Grand Prize was successful and became the best-selling beer in Texas. Unfortunately, Brogniez passed away two years later, just shy of his 75th birthday. His son Frank operated the brewery after his death.

In 1963, Gulf Brewing Co. closed its doors and Grand Prize Beer stopped producing.

Today, you won’t find any cases of Grand Prize Beer, however you might find some memorabilia of the once-beloved cold drink.


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