During the 1940s and '50s, Arizona Brewing Company's A-1 beer was the most popular brew in the Grand Canyon State.
Dubbed "Arizona Bud" by locals, A-1 saw its sales go flat in the 1960s, as Budweiser, Miller and Coors beers took over the market. A-1 disappeared from shelves entirely in the mid-'80s.
Next week, Tucson's Nimbus Brewing Co. will start shipping its version of A-1 beer to Arizona bars and beer vendors.
Nimbus' A-1 will feature a new recipe and, locals hope, a smoother taste.
"It was pretty harsh," says Bill Nugent, owner of The Shanty, a 73-year-old bar on the south end of North Fourth Avenue. "But people loved it because it was a state beer."
Nugent used to drink A-1 at Ray & Red's, a now-closed Fourth Avenue bar that had the beer on tap.
He says he's eager to try Nimbus' version.
"I would like to taste it first before I judge," he says.
Nimbus owner Jim Counts partnered with former Beverage House owner Eli Drakulich who, along with his brother-in-law Kirby Davis, holds the A-1 trademark.
A-1 will be available on tap and in bottles at the Nimbus Brewing Company, 3850 E. 44th St., the Nimbus Bistro, 6464 E. Tanque Verde Road, and in bottles at BevMo, Total Wine and More, Cost Plus World Market, and other retailers.
But while the name of the beer is the same, much has changed:
• The classic red and blue have been replaced by desert tones.
• The eagle is back on the label, despite Budweiser's earlier objection. "Our patent lawyer told us it was no big deal," Drakulich says.
• The slogan - "judged the finest by the world's beer experts" - remains.
• Nimbus's new recipe forgoes rice and corn. It's "more of a European-style pilsner," says owner Counts.
• Once noted for its cheap cost, a six-pack retails today for $7.99 to $8.99 at most stores.