By: Alissa Gulin
National Premium beer — the more refined older brother to Natty Boh — is making its comeback on Baltimore taps Tuesday night thanks to a realtor from Easton who’s determined to return the brew, which was discontinued in 1996, to its former hometown glory.
Tim Miller, who bought the National Premium brand name and tracked down the recipe last year, is hosting a relaunch party at The Owl Bar beginning at 7 p.m. The beer will be available for $2 all night long, with the first 200 people through the door receiving a free pint glass.
When the National Brewing Company began churning out the stuff in 1936, it was marketed as Baltimore’s more upscale, full-bodied and hoppier alternative to Boh.
But that was then.
In a town with a burgeoning demand for craft beer (read: increasingly full of beer snobs), National Premium likely won’t become the next hot commodity. But Charm City locals have a fierce loyalty toward anything Baltimore-born, so you can bet they’ll embrace the tradition and at least pretend it’s the best thing since… well, the original version.
Miller had hoped to brew the lager right here in Baltimore — where it was first produced by National Brewing Company, along with National Bohemian and Colt 45 — and reintroduce it to younger generations.
He was successful — sort of. Bottles of National Premium are back on shelves but it’s brewed in Delaware.
(Similarly, National Bohemian still enjoys a cult following here but hasn’t been brewed in this city since the ’70s, when the company changed hands. It’s now brewed in North Carolina.)
Miller had hoped Premium wouldn’t have the same story as Mr. Boh and he eventually hopes to find a brewery in Maryland. For now, though, he’ll have to settle for seeing the beer back on bars’ draft lists.
So, beer enthusiasts, as you raise your glasses tonight, make sure you toast to Miller and his quest to reclaim National Premium beer.
Here’s to a hoppy ending.