Miller Brewing Company

The Miller Brewing Company is an American beer brewing company headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The company has brewing facilities in Albany, Georgia; Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin; Fort Worth, Texas; Irwindale, California; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Trenton, Ohio. On July 1, 2008, SABMiller formed MillerCoors, a joint venture with rival Molson Coors to consolidate the production and distribution of its products in the United States, with each parent company's corporate operations and international operations to remain separate and independent of the joint venture.

Miller Brewing Company
IndustryAlcoholic beverage
United States
Key people
Gavin Hattersley (CEO)
ParentMolson Coors Brewing Company (MillerCoors)

The joint venture ended after the SABMiller operation was acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) on October 10, 2016. The new company is called Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (AB InBev).[1] On October 11, 2016, the company sold the Miller brand portfolio outside the US and Puerto Rico to Molson Coors, which also retained "the rights to all of the brands currently in the MillerCoors portfolio for the U.S. and Puerto Rico".[2]

Molson Coors is the sole owner of Miller Brewing Company and plans to keep the MillerCoors name and the Chicago headquarters and to operate the company in much the same manner as before October 11, 2016.[3] For the consumer, and for employees, the change to 100 percent ownership (from the previous 42 percent) by Molson Coors will not be apparent in the U.S., according to Jon Stern, MillerCoors' director of media relations. "The good news is that none of this impacts Milwaukee or Wisconsin. It'll be business as usual. Miller Lite, Coors Light, Miller High Life and Leinenkugel's – and frankly all the rest of our brands will continue to be brewed by us."[4]


Miller Brewing Company was founded in 1855 by Frederick Miller after his emigration from Hohenzollern, Germany in 1854 with a unique brewer's yeast. Initially, he purchased the small Plank Road Brewery in Milwaukee for $2300 ($66,736 in 2018).[5] The brewery's location in the Miller Valley in Milwaukee provided easy access to raw materials produced on nearby farms. In 1855, Miller changed its name to Miller Brewing Company, Inc.[6] The enterprise remained in the family until 1966.

In 1966, the conglomerate W. R. Grace and Company bought Miller from Mrs. Lorraine John Mulberger (Frederick Miller's granddaughter, who objected to alcohol) and her family. In 1969, Philip Morris (now Altria) bought Miller from W. R. Grace for $130 million, outbidding PepsiCo. In 2002, South African Breweries bought Miller from Philip Morris for $3.6 billion worth of stock and $2 billion in debt to form SABMiller, with Philip Morris retaining a 36% ownership share and 24.99% voting rights.

In 2006, Miller Brewing purchased Sparks and Steel Reserve brands from McKenzie River Corporation for $215 million cash.[7] Miller had been producing both brands prior to this purchase.[8]

In 2007, SABMiller and Molson Coors combined their U.S. operations in a joint venture called MillerCoors. SABMiller owned 58% of the unit, which operated in the United States but not in Canada, where Molson Coors is strongest. Molson Coors owned the rest of the joint venture, but the companies had equal voting power.[9][10]

Sole ownership by Molson Coors

In September 2015, Anheuser-Busch Inbev announced that it had reached a full agreement to acquire SABMiller for $107 Billion dollars, As part of the agreement with U.S. regulators for acquiring SABMiller, AB-Inbev agreed to sell its 58 percent interest in MillerCoors to Molson Coors for 12 billion dollars.[11] The merger was completed on October 10, 2016.[12]

In order to obtain approval for the merger from the U.S. Justice Department, SABMiller agreed to divest itself of the Miller brands in the US and Puerto Rico by selling its stake in MillerCoors to Molson Coors Brewing Company.[13]

Consequently, on October 11, 2016, SABMiller in the U.S. sold its interests in MillerCoors to Molson Coors who had been its partner in the joint venture, for around US$12 billion. Molson Coors gained full ownership of the Miller brand portfolio outside the US and Puerto Rico, and retained the rights to all of the brands that were in the MillerCoors portfolio for the U.S. and Puerto Rico.[14][15]

In Canada, Molson Coors regained the right (from SABMiller) to make and market Miller Genuine Draft and Miller Lite.[16] However, in the U.S., the change in ownership of MillerCoors/Miller Brewing Company will not be apparent to consumers or to employees.[4]

Beer brands

Current Miller beers

  • Miller Lite: A pilsner type light beer. It is 4.2% ABV (4% in Canada).
  • Miller Genuine Draft: Nicknamed MGD. Introduced in 1985 with the claim of tasting like draft beer, based on the fact that the beer is cold filtered and not pasteurized. MGD received the gold medal in the American-style Premium Lager category at the 1999 World Beer Cup. It also received the silver medal at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival. The concept for cold-filtered Miller Genuine Draft was developed by product consultant Calle & Company. Martin Calle evolved the concept from Miller's New Ventures effort to launch a new dry beer at a time Miller Brewing was in danger of becoming a much-cloned light beer manufacturer. Originally introduced as "Miller High Life Genuine Draft", the "High Life" part of the name was soon dropped. MGD is actually made from the same recipe as Miller High Life but with a different treatment. It was developed to try and replicate the non-pasteurized keg flavor of High Life in a can or bottle. As of 2007 Genuine Draft had a 1.5% share of the United States market; by 2012 it had declined to 0.7% market share, representing a decline of 1.7 million barrels.[17] It has 4.7% abv.[18]
  • Miller 64— (Formerly Miller Genuine Draft 64)[19] A lighter version of the regular Miller Genuine Draft Light with a 2.8% abv, also known as "MGD 64". It contains 64 calories per 12 US fl oz (355 mL) serving (750 kJ/L). Until recently, no other beer on the market had less food energy, although Beck's Premier Light also has 64 calories per 12 US fl oz serving. In the late summer of 2009, Budweiser launched Budweiser Select 55 in response to Miller's popular MGD 64. Miller launched this beer in the summer of 2007 in Madison, Wisconsin. It was received favorably and testing expanded to Arizona, San Diego and Sacramento.[20]
  • Miller High Life: This beer was put on the market in 1903 and is Miller Brewing's oldest brand. High Life is grouped under the pilsner category of beers and is 4.6% ABV.[18] The prevailing slogan on current packaging is "The Champagne of Beers", an adaptation of its long standing slogan "The Champagne of Bottle Beers". Accordingly, this beer is noted for its high level of carbonation, making it a very bubble-filled beverage, like champagne. It was originally available in miniature champagne bottles and was one of the premier high-end beers in the country for many years. Today they are popular in 7 U.S. fl oz (207 ml; 7 imp fl oz) pony bottles, introduced in 1972.[21][22] Except for a brief period in the 1990s, High Life bottles have always been quite distinctive, as they have a bright gold label and are made of a clear glass that has a tapered neck like a champagne bottle. High Life has brought back its "Girl in the Moon" logo, which features a modestly dressed young lady that, by legend, is company founder Frederick Miller's granddaughter. The "Girl in the Moon" logo was originally painted in the early 1900s by an unknown artist and has since been re-painted by Nebraskan artist Mike Hagel, who added his own unique touch to it.[23] High Life beat out 17 other contestants to take home the gold medal in "American-style Lagers" category at the 2002 World Beer Cup. High Life has enjoyed a resurgence recently, using its humorous "Take Back the High Life" campaign—which features a common sense-wielding deliveryman (portrayed by Windell Middlebrooks) removing beer from "non-High Life locations" (such as restaurants serving $11.50 hamburgers) to position the brand as "a good honest beer at a tasty price".
  • Miller High Life Light: Introduced in 1994. It has 4.1% ABV.[18]
  • Miller Chill: A chelada-style 4.2% abv[18] pale lager brewed with lime and salt. Introduced successfully in 2007, sales dropped in 2008 after the launch of the rival Bud Light Lime.[24] In response, MillerCoors revamped their recipe from a 'chelada' style brew to a light beer with lime, created new packaging which included switching from a green to a clear bottle, and launched a new advertising campaign centered around the slogan "How a Light Beer with a Taste of Lime Should Taste".
  • Miller Fortune: A recent addition to the lineup. 6.9% ABV Fortune is a golden lager brewed in part with Cascade hops to give it a citrusy bite and caramel malt to impart an amber hue. Targeted to males aged 21 to 27, according to the brewery "the flavor is moderately bitter with hints of sweetness, resting somewhere between a full-flavored craft beer and a light lager." The brewery further claims that Fortune has a "malty, complex flavor hinting at bourbon, the amber brew will be distributed wider and faster than any beer MillerCoors has introduced since the Molson Coors Brewing (TAP) and SABMiller (SAB:LN) venture was formed in 2008."
  • Miller Midnight: According to the brewery, "This beer combines dark roasted and light crystal malts with caramel flavor. Getting this balance right was an important part of the two-year development process, led by Ronda Dannenberg and Jackie Lauman, specialists at Miller's flagship brewery in Milwaukee. Color, aroma, taste, and finish were all carefully considered. It is available in 330 ml and 500 ml bottles. Released in November 2008 this beer is available only in Russia." It has 5.2% ABV.
  • Sharp's: Miller's non-alcoholic beer.
  • Frederick Miller Classic Chocolate Lager: A beer for the holiday season released October through December in Wisconsin, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Indianapolis and northwest Indiana. It is brewed with six different malts, including chocolate and dark chocolate malts.[25]
  • Mickey's: Mickey's is Miller's "Fine Malt Liquor". It is 5.6% abv.[18]
  • Olde English 800: Malt liquor also known as "OE". It is 5.9% abv in the eastern United States, 7.5% abv in most western U.S. states and 8.0% abv in Canada.
  • Milwaukee's Best: Miller's economy label. It is 4.3% ABV, and commonly referred to as "The Beast", "Milwaukee's Beast", "Milwaukee's Worst" or "Milly B"[18]
  • Milwaukee's Best Light: Miller's light economy label. Also, it was the main sponsor of the 2008 World Series of Poker. It is 4.1% ABV. and commonly referred to as "Beast Light"[18]
  • Milwaukee's Best Ice: Miller's economy "Ice" beer. It is 6.9% ABV. and commonly referred to as "Beast Ice" or "the Yeti".[18]

Retired brands

  • Miller Lite Ice: A limited distribution ice beer with naturally higher abv content, 5.5%. In this form, it is now only found in select markets in Michigan.
  • Miller Gold: A limited edition version of Miller Genuine Draft containing 5.7% abv.
  • Miller 1855 Celebration Lager: The 1855 Celebration Lager was released in November 2005 to recognize the 150th anniversary of Miller Brewing. It was only available for a limited time.
  • Miller: A short-lived recipe from 1996 to 1998, sold in a predominantly red can (hence, aka "Miller Red").
  • Southpaw Light: Southpaw is labeled as a light beer but has the alcohol content of a regular beer. It has a strong hops flavor compared with other light Pilsner style beers. It also has unique labeling and marketing. Southpaw Light has been discontinued by Miller Brewing Company as of March 2013, due to lack of consumer demand.[26]

Hamm's beers

Miller bought the rights to the Hamm's Brewery brands.

  • Hamm's Beer: Winner of the 2007 Gold Medal for American-Style Lager and the 2010 Gold Medal for American-Style Specialty Lager or Cream Ale or Lager at the Great American Beer Festival
  • Hamm's Golden Draft
  • Hamm's Special Light

Plank Road Brewery beers

This division is named for the 19th-century name for west State Street in Milwaukee (formerly known for its full length outside Milwaukee as the Watertown Plank Road), where the main Miller brewery has been located since its founding.

  • Icehouse: Icehouse is an ice lager. At 5.5% alcohol by volume, it was the winner of the 2003 and 2007 Gold Medals for American-Style Specialty Lager at the Great American Beer Festival, and also won the American-style Ice Lager Gold Cup of the 1996 and 1998 World Beer Cup competitions.[27]
  • Icehouse EDGE: Icehouse EDGE is an ice lager/malt liquor (8.0% alcohol by volume) and was introduced in June 2012.
  • Red Dog: Although popular during the mid- to late-1990s, Red Dog faded into near obscurity near the start of the 21st century. However, since 2005 it has been returning to stores.


Miller has been a large motorsport sponsor since the 1980s. In the CART World Series, the company has sponsored drivers such as Al Unser (1984), Danny Sullivan (1985–1989, 1991), Roberto Guerrero (1990), Bobby Rahal (1992–1998) and Kenny Bräck (2003). It also sponsored the Miller 200 race at Mid-Ohio.

In NASCAR Cup Series, Miller has sponsored Bobby Allison from 1983 to 1988, Dick Trickle in 1989, Rusty Wallace from 1990 to 2005, Kurt Busch from 2006 to 2010, and Brad Keselowski since 2011. Allison won the 1983 NASCAR Winston Cup Series, and Keselowski won the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The company has sponsored the Miller High Life 500, Miller 500, Miller High Life 400, Miller 400, Miller 300, Miller 200, and Miller 150 races.

In NHRA, Miller sponsored Larry Dixon for 11 years, ending their relationship in 2007.[28]

See also


  1. Nurin, Tara (October 10, 2016). "It's Final: AB InBev Closes On Deal To Buy SABMiller". Forbes. Retrieved January 28, 2017. leaving Coors Brewing Co. the last of the former "Big Three" beer companies to stand apart from the other two.
  2. "Molson Coors Completes Acquisition of Full Ownership of MillerCoors and Global Miller Brand Portfolio" (Press release). Molson Coors. October 11, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  3. Dill, Molly (October 10, 2016). "Anheuser-Busch to complete acquisition of SABMiller today". BizTimes. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  4. "Mega-merger: Anheuser-Busch InBev's takeover of SABMiller is now official". FOX 6 Now. Milwaukee: WITI-TV. October 10, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. As for what this means for workers in Milwaukee, Stern said there's not much overlap between Molson Coors and MillerCoors.
  5. "Our History". Molson Coors. 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  6. "Company Overview of Miller Brewing Company, Inc". Bloomberg Research. January 31, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  7. Fredrix, Emily (July 4, 2006). "Miller dives into caffeinated drinks with $215 million deal". Houston Chronicle. Associated Press. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  8. "SABMiller Acquires 2 Brands". Los Angeles Times. Bloomberg News. July 4, 2006. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  9. "Coors, Miller in U.S. Venture". October 9, 2007.
  10. "Molson Coors and SABMiller merge U.S. operations". Financial Post. October 9, 2007. Archived from the original on July 21, 2010. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  11. "Molson Coors buying rest of MillerCoors for $12 billion". Denver Post. November 11, 2015. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  12. Nurin, Tara (October 10, 2016). "It's Final: AB InBev Closes On Deal To Buy SABMiller". Forbes. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  13. Brown, Lisa (October 11, 2016). "A-B InBev finalizes $100B billion acquisition of SABMiller, creating world's largest beer company". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  14. "Molson Coors Completes Acquisition of Full Ownership of MillerCoors and Global Miller Brand Portfolio". Molson Coors. October 11, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2017. Becomes World's Third Largest Brewer by Enterprise Value and Strengthens Position in Highly Attractive U.S. Beer Market
  15. Trotter, Greg (October 11, 2016). "With new owner, MillerCoors focuses on growth". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  16. Wright, Lisa (November 11, 2015). "Molson Coors doubles with $12B Miller buyout". Toronto Star. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  17. Frohlich, Thomas C.; Sauter, Michael B. (December 10, 2013). "Nine beers many Americans no longer drink". USA Today. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  18. "Beer Nutrition Facts and Codes". MillerCoors. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  19. Edwards, Jim (March 27, 2012). "BEFORE AND AFTER: Miller Genuine Draft 64 Has A New Logo—And A New Name". Business Insider.
  20. "MGD 64...As Light As It Gets" (Press release). Miller Brewing Company. February 29, 2008.
  21. Connor, John M.; Ward, Ronald W., eds. (November 6–7, 1980). Advertising and the Food System. College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison. p. 309.
  22. "CSA Super Markets". 50. Lebhar-Friedman. 1974: 68. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  23. Stevenson, Seth (October 10, 2005). "Aiming High". Slate. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  24. Daykin, Tom (February 18, 2009). "Miller Chill makeover squeezes in more lime flavor". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  25. Daykin, Tom (November 12, 2014). "At pilot brewery, MillerCoors learns what new beers will fly". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  26. Engel, Jeff (November 12, 2013). "MillerCoors ending Miller Chill brand". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  27. "Award Winners: 1996; 1998". World Beer Cup. Retrieved February 4, 2016."thisisfutile" (January 4, 2017). "Icehouse ABV increased, but Miller said nothing". Beer Advocate. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  28. "Miller Time ends for Prudhomme's Top Fuel dragster team". Autoweek. June 11, 2006. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
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