The Re-Emergence of Baltimore’s Beer

Posted on July 9, 2012 by

A blog post by Photo Archives Intern Kenny Roussey.

While exploring the storage room during today’s object inventory I came across an object that naturally caught my eye. The object was a very old National Bohemian Beer can.  After seeing it, I couldn’t just simply move on without finding out some more information about it. It turns out that National Bohemian sold beers in these cans in the 1930’s and into the 50’s. The can is unique because it has a cone shaped top and depicts an early version of “Mr. Boh” who is the trademark face of the company. The can was given to the museum by David Hoffberger son of Jerald Hoffberger. Jerald Hoffberger was a hometown businessman who owned both National Bohemian and the Baltimore Orioles.

National Bohemian, or just Natty Boh, was first brewed here in Baltimore in 1885, and the factory building still sits in Baltimore today, despite the company being owned by Pabst and brewed elsewhere. Natty Boh, since its existence, has been synonymous with Baltimore and a huge part of Baltimore culture. It became the official beer of Baltimore in the 1960s and was sold at Memorial Stadium where both the Colts and Orioles played before it was torn down. When the company merged and the factory was closed in the late 70’s, Natty Boh began to slowly lose some of its popularity and connection with Baltimore through the late 80’s and 90’s. For a while it was hard to find Natty Boh in stores across Maryland.


Recently however Natty Boh has experienced a huge resurgence and is retaking it’s thrown as the official Beer of Baltimore. In fact 90 percent of the beer sales come from the Baltimore and surrounding areas.  In 2011, Natty Boh was served on tap for the first time in about 15 years. The beer is now served at Camden Yards and is the official beer sponsor and partner of the Orioles. Natty Boh has also revamped its style in many ways, some of which includes new boxes and cans, and on these new boxes and cans they have made Mr. Boh larger and more prominent than ever before. For Camden Yard’s 20 year anniversary, Natty Boh even released a special 16 oz. Camden Yards commemorative black and orange can that has become extremely popular at both the stadium and stores.. Many places have even cashed in by selling a wide array of Natty Boh merchandise. I think it’s is safe to say Natty Boh is back and better than ever and hopefully Mr. Boh is here to stay.


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  1. Randi B says:

    Love that you wrote about this and found the history really interesting. You should check out Union Craft Brewing, a new local craft brewer in the Hampden/ Woodberry area of Baltimore. They launched Duckpin Pale Ale and Balt Altbier in June. (As a side note, one of the owners is Jewish.) So once again they are continuing the tradition and adding to the rich history of Baltimore beer and the impact our Jewish community is making on that scene. As a true Baltimorean, I can’t help get a little emotional when folks refer to Natty Boh as the official Beer of Baltimore, because after all it’s not brewed in Baltimore. The craft beer scene has made a big comeback in Baltimore recently. And UCB is the first production brewery to be operated in Baltimore in over 30 years. Celebrate that and have local pride in our local beer. Although Natty Boh has a big marketing budget, the beer is still the same ol’ Natty Boh, not really any better than ever, and not brewed in Baltimore.

  2. Emiliano O'Shaunnesky says:

    “Natty Boh” is, sadly, totally phony. The phrase wasn’t even used until long after National left Baltimore; we always just called it “National”. Just like “Brewrs Hill” was invented by realtors in the 90’s. Now it’s a completely plastic imitation of life. I say this as someone who grew up next to the National brewery when it was operating. My mother tended the bar where the brewery workers hung out, and she claimed to know the son of the designer of Mr. Boh, who was not the company executive who now seems to be credited. So I know the Boh, and I remember well the neighborhood reeking of it brewing.
    In 1977, somebody left a preachy tract on the windshields of workers’ cars at a local factory on Baylis Street. It complained about “that one-eyed ringleader of the toilet gang”. Wish I still had that tract, it was hilarious.
    Nowadays, “Natty Boh” is as fake as “Charm City”, but it serves well for the frat boy hangouts like Canton Square. It’s a cheap crummy beer bottled from the same generic vats that produce other brands. At one time, many decades past, it was authentic.

  3. michael mendelson says:

    As a serious 18 legal beer drinker in D.C., I drank “National Boh”If you want to know what happened to the other eye,Gunthers got it.

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