Interestingly, the famous Brazilian beer Skol’s origins aren’t found in Brazil, or anywhere near it. Skol’s roots hail back to Great Britain during the late 19th century. It started on Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England, where a pale ale brewer named Samuel Allsopp and Sons, was struggling to survive. Even as it shifted into brewing lager, it was still lagging.
When Allsopp went briefly into bankruptcy, Sir William Barclay Peat took over control of the company’s assets. He brought in James Calder from the Scottish brewer James Calder and Co. of Alloa to be the new chairman of Allsopp. Miraculously, Calder managed to raise Allsopp from its financial woes.
Calder became the chairman of Alloa’s brewery Archibald Arrol as well, eventually bringing in Allsopp’s brewing kit as well as its Swedish lager brewer Joseph Lundgren, into Calder’s own company. From there Arrol’s began to brew Allsopp’s lager but with a brand new name introduced in 1927: Graham’s Gold Lager.
In 1930 Allsopp’s eventually acquired Arrol’s, and four years later entered into a merger with another Burton-based brewer Ind Coope. This merger became favorable for Ind Coope as it eventually grew into Britain’s biggest brewery at that time, with its own flagship beer Graham’s Gold Lager being the top beer brand there. In 1959 Ind Coope introduced a new brand: Graham’s Skol Lager. (skol was derived from the Scandinavian word skål, meaning cheers when making a toast).
#115 Skol Super Lager
Skol: A Brazilian hit
Graham’s Skol Lager eventually became Skol pilsner lager as part of Ind Coope’s marketing strategy, aiming to focus the younger generation of drinkers in particular.
Ind Coope then entered into a merger with two other brewing companies – Leed-based Tetley’s and Ansell’s from Birmingham – to form Allied Breweries.
In 1964, Allied Breweries, together with several international brewers – Canada’s Labatt, Sweden’s Pripps Bryggerierna and Belgium’s Unibra – formed Skol International Ltd, with the intention of making Skol an international beer brand.
By 1967, Skol was brewed in several countries, including many parts of Europe as well as in Algeria. Around the same year Skol would also brew its beer in Brazil, in Brazil’s own brewery Caracu. Caracu’s dark lagers used to be Brazil’s top beer. But Skol became an immediate hit that soon dislodged the dark lager from the top position of the Brazilian beer popularity. Soon Skol’s global consortium built a new brewery in Manaus to accommodate the continuously growing market and demand.
Caracu continued to brew Skol beer until it was bought by a rival brand Brahma (also one of the most well-known Brazilian beer brands) in 1980. Twenty years later, Brahma merged with its main rival Antartica to form AmBev. In 2004 Ambev then merged with Belgium’s InBev to become AB InBev, which became the largest beverage firm in the world, even beating Coca-Cola in terms of revenue. While Skol’s popularity in its birth country, Britain, has been steadily declining, it otherwise has firmly secured its place in Brazil as one of the country’s famous beer brands.
Aside from Brazil, Skol is also a favorite beer brand in much of Africa – Belgium’s Unibra is the licensed firm to brew Skol in the region. Danish brewery Carlsberg is licensed to brew and market Skol beer in many other parts of the world.
Skol has traveled a long way. From its roots in Great Britain, Skol has finally found a home in Brazil, where it is celebrated as one of the country’s finest lagers.
Beercyclopedia #46 – Skol