Grand Prize Beer was a product of the Gulf Brewing Company. Howard Hughes founded the company in Houston in 1933. Already wealthy from his Hughes Tool Company and other ventures, Hughes saw an opportunity to slake the thirsts of Texans after the recent repeal of Prohibition.
The initial brewery was built on the same property as Hughes Tool. Belgian Brewmeister, Frantz Hector Brogniez, was recruited from Southern Select, a Galveston-based brewer. Brogniez had previously won the Grand Prize in Europe for his brew. This happened in 1913 at the Exposition Universelle et Internationale in Ghent, Belgium. Since the Southern Select name was taken, Hughes decided to name the new lager Grand Prize Beer.
By the time of the death of Brogniez in 1935, Grand Prize Beer was among the largest selling in Texas. His son, Frantz P. Brogniez, took over. He was later followed by Charles Leiberman. Their combined efforts maintained the Grand Prize dominance. Gulf Brewing Company popularized the brewery tours and tasting room in Houston. By the late 1940s, Grand Prize Beer was selling nearly a half million barrels of beer.
In the 1960s. Minnesota-based Hamm’s took over the brewery in 1963. Later, Hamm’s was bought out by Heublein of Connecticut. It is not clear why Grand Prize lost market share in the meanwhile. Nevertheless, a welder’s fire in 1968 led to the eventual demolition of the brewery, and nearly a half-century of brewing history.
- Year Started: 1933
- Year Ended: 1965
- Origin Of Name: from past awards earned by the Brewmeister
- Location Sales: Southwest USA
- Brand Name Predecessor: Southern Select
- Brand Name Successor: Hamms Beer
- Owner Original: Howard Hughes
- Owner While In Use: Howard Hughes
- Owner Successor: Heublein
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Budweiser
- Naics Code: 312120
- Location Headquarters: Houston, Texas, USA