Whatever Happened To Jax Beer?

Jax, which may have been the first beer to be sold in a six-pack, certainly possesses one of the more interesting stories in the history of brewing. Even its apparent demise, in the wake of a convoluted story that started in Jacksonville, Florida, moved on to New Orleans, and appears to have sputtered to a halt in San Antonio, is shrouded in mystery. First brewed in Jacksonville beginning in 1913, the Jacksonville Brewing Company was not at a loss for words to describe its beer, according to the Jacksonville Historical Society. "Tangy," "zestful," "smooth" and "mellow" made the list, as did '"full-bodied" and "refreshing." The thing was, though, the Jax made in Jacksonville wasn't the only Jax.

In New Orleans, the Jackson Brewing Company, established in 1890, also was brewing a Jax. In 1935, the Florida brewer sued the New Orleans brewer over the name. According to The Florida Times-Union, the case settled by splitting sales territories. Jax Brewing (the new name of Jacksonville Brewing), got territory east of Mobile, Alabama, with Jackson Brewing taking territory west of Mobile. Also in the deal, Jax Brewing retained the Jax name for its beer. But in 1956, Jax Brewing closed and gave the Jax copyright to Jackson Brewing. Eighteen years later, Jackson Brewing closed, selling the Jax formula to Pearl Brewing in San Antonio. Pearl produced Jax for a while, but when its parent company acquired Pabst Brewing in 1985, it stopped making Jax.

Jax once had a very limited return

Jax, though, appears to have made a limited comeback in 2016. According to The Jax Beer Guy, it was briefly available at the European Street Cafe in Jacksonville's Riverside area. After hearing rumors, beer aficionado and writer Marc Wisdom contacted Pabst and spoke with an associate brand manager. The manager confirmed Pabst had "brewed a very small test batch of Jax, just to see what people thought of the beer." The goal, Wilson was told, was to determine whether people remembered Jax and "what they liked about it." The manager said Pabst "was very much in development" regarding a Jax comeback. He promised Wilson that when Pabst had "a solid launch timeline," he would be back in touch.

From there, the digital trail regarding Jax grows cold as a frosty beer mug. If it ever did appear on the European Street Cafe beer menu in Riverside, Jax is not listed there currently. Nor does it appear on the beer menus at the cafe's other two Jacksonville locations. While the taste of Jax may live now only in the memories of those who drank the discontinued beer — at Jax Beer Guy, one fan fondly remembers it as "smooth" with "never a full and bloating feeling" — the beer's legacy lives on in at least one interesting way. In 1948, Jax became one of the first products ever to be marketed on television specifically for a Black audience, a moment preserved on YouTube.