Blatz was one of the premier Milwaukee breweries. It was founded by John Braun in 1846, shortly before Wisconsin achieved statehood, and was originally called the City Brewery. Braun's fledgling business produced about 150 barrels of beer annually – until 1851 when Valentine Blatz, a former employee, established a brewery of his own next door to the City Brewery. Braun died later that year and Blatz soon married his widow, thereby uniting the City Brewery and his own operation.
At the time of the marriage, the combined breweries produced only 350 barrels per year. However, by 1880 total annual production reached 125,000 barrels. The brewery's growth continued, and in 1884 Blatz ranked as the third-largest beer producer in Milwaukee.
Blatz was the first Milwaukee brewer to market beer nationally. He set up distribution centers in Chicago, New York, Boston, New Orleans, Memphis, Charleston, and Savannah. He was also the first of the Milwaukee brewers to include a bottling plant within his brewery. In addition, Blatz operated his own carpenter shop, railroad cars, cooper shop, machine shop and coal yard.
In 1890 Blatz sold his brewery to a group of London investors, who continued to operate the plant until Prohibition. Following the repeal of the eighteenth amendment, the Blatz brewery again flourished, producing over a million barrels annually during the 1940s and 1950s. Its labels included Blatz, Pilsener, Old Heidelberg, Private Stock, Milwaukee Dark, Culmbacher, Continental Special, Tempo, and English Style Ale.
By 1955 only six Milwaukee breweries remained open. Of these six, Miller, Pabst and Schlitz were the biggest and most successful. Blatz was big, too, but stiff competition and skyrocketing production costs prevented it from growing further. In 1958 the brewery was finally sold to Pabst; however a federal court order at the time prevented Pabst from Brewing at the Blatz facilities. In 1959 this giant, Blatz, ceased all operations. Shortly there after, Pabst purchased the Blatz brands, and relaunched the brand as a craft-style beer, true to the high-quality style that Valetine Blatz espoused.
Today, Blatz continues to be recognized for it's quality and tradition. While the Blatz Brewery is now home to some of Milwaukee's Finest Citizens, Blatz Beer will always be Milwaukee's Finest Beer.
The "Blatz" beer label currently is produced by the Miller Brewing Company of Milwaukee, under contract for Pabst Brewing Company, managed by CEO, Charles Thomas Blatz who coincidentally shares the last name of the previous founder.
The Blatz Brewery Building was purchased and converted to condos in 2005-2006. The Blatz building's downtown location has made it a premier place to live in Milwaukee. In 2008, Blatz Beer made its return to the brewery building. Rather than being brewed there, however, it is merely available for purchase from the Blatz Market & Liquor.
In an unconventional twist to their marketing strategy around 2007, Blatz employed a group of young hooligans that went by the name of The Attitude City Boyz. This gang of college-aged beer sluggers would chant the "Blatz Party USA" jingle while finding themselves in all sorts of mischief. This advertising campaign gained little traction in the mass media.