Yellow Jacket Beer – A Cool History of Coors Banquet Beer & Pull-Tab Cans

by Dane Wilson | Last Updated: June 17, 2022

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In the world of light beer, especially so within the American beer industry, Coors beer and its line of products are a consistently well-loved series of beer products. Coors original and Coors light are an incredibly popular part of the Molson Coors company. Especially so nowadays, Coors banquet beers are in particular a wonderfully iconic American lager variety amongst beer fans. Now, of course, one large reason for this is that the yellow jacket beer is a delicious beer variation. That said though, the yellow jackets that are the pride of the Coors brewing company are also known for their significant history. Additionally, they’ve also had a distinct impact on popular culture.

Table of Contents

What Is Yellow Jacket Beer?

The term yellow jacket beer comes from the Coors Banquet beer. This beverage was introduced to the western side of the American public by the company’s founder Adolph Coors. This being in the year 1874. From the introduction of this beer through to modern-day, the now Molson Coors company has prided itself on using “rocky mountain spring water”. This is something that is said to provide the Coors banquet beer with a “drinkable, mile-high taste”.

Flavour-wise then, Coors Banquet is very much a throwback to a more classic American lager. This being due to how a fresh cold beer like yellow jacket beer or yellow bellies as they’re also known has a distinct malt core thanks to the Moravian barley. Meanwhile it also boasts a refreshingly crisp finish thanks to that rocky mountain water. That said though, Coors banquet has a subtle sweetness, absent from other lagers of this style. This being thanks to the fruity notes along with those of grain, corn, freshly baked bread and banana bread.

In terms of appearance, the yellow jacket beer will vary in colour from a golden to a pale straw look. Meanwhile, the head of the beer will often be of a medium size that will quickly dissipate within a couple of minutes.

man in blue denim jacket holding Coors Yellowjacket

The History Of Coors Banquet Beer

As alluded to above, there is a deep and elaborate history that surrounds the beverage of Coors banquet beer or yellow jacket beer. With that in mind then, some aluminum cans of this light beer can become something of a fun talking point. Especially so when you are surrounded by a group of beer and/or history enthusiasts.

In fact, no matter what aspect of modern American history, you will be pleasantly surprised to find the history of its beer is a fantastic topic of conversation. Especially, when complemented with the vibrant characteristics and watery flavour profile of this beer and other Coors products. With that in mind then, for more information on the history of Coors banquet or yellow jacket beer check out the headings below:

The Origins Of Coors Banquet

With any good tale in history, the origin story or indeed the lack of one for a person, place, object or product is a factor that can add some extra allure to the history of something. Like many other things then the history Coors banquet is certainly no exception to this. In fact, this is an American lager with German origins and was originally popularized by the thirsty miners in Colorado.

More particularly, the German immigrant Adolph Coors arrived in America in the year eighteen sixty-three. Following this, he travelled west and would found the Coors company in Golden, Colorado in the year eighteen seventy-three.

In particular, the new light beer created by Adolph Coors was a massive hit with the miners. All of which where located in the nearby Clear Creek Canyon. Often, Coors would often be enjoyed by the thirsty miners within banquet halls along with enormous banquet tents within the region. As such, the light beverage would gradually become known colloquially within these circles as the “banquet beer” by the miners. However, the name Banquet Beer is not one that would be adopted by the Coors beer company for nearly sixty years afterwards.

Yellow Jacket Beer - A Cool History of Coors Banquet Beer & Pull-Tab Cans

Coors During The Prohibition Era

During the prohibition era, the Coors company were naturally found to be in an awkward situation. The reason is that they will have of course of how they built their brand. This being the idea of being a beer brewing company. As such, when prohibition was enforced they were compelled by the federal government to halt the brewing and distribution of alcohol for recreational purposes.

In response to this, the Coors company would pivot their business model quite substantially in a few different ways. The first of which might seem fairly obvious as they would produce distilled alcohol that was government-controlled. This being for the purposes of satisfying the needs of pharmacies, who would have prescriptions for alcohol due to medicinal purposes. 

Alongside pivoting into the medical alcohol business though, the company would also engage in some other non-alcoholic business pursuits. These include the creation of a non-alcoholic Coors Pure Cereal Beverage in addition to malted milk. The latter of which being produced up to the year nineteen fifty-seven and distributed as far as Australia. As such, at the time it was in wider distribution than Coors banquet/yellow jacket beer had ever reached at that time.

Perhaps the most out-there path that the brewery took during the prohibition era though was how it operated as a porcelain production plant. The reason for this is that during the first world war (known as the great war at the time) had completely ravaged Germany. The majority of chemical and scientific porcelain was previously primarily produced in Germany. As such there was a gap in the market. A gap created by the devastation of the homeland of Adolph Coors created.

Following the end of the prohibition era though, Coors would bring back its line of alcoholic light beers. At the head of it though was the original Coors beer. However, a mere four years later in nineteen thirty-seven, it was officially rebranded as Coors banquet beer. This being in direct contrast to the fact that it had originally been merely been a nickname previously. The reason for this rebranding though was that during the time of the depression, it was a refreshing shot of nostalgia. As were the new slogans of the beer. These being “America’s Fine Light Beer” and  “Brewed with Rocky Mountain Spring Water”. Additionally this was also accompanied by the introduction of a waterfall logo.

The Exclusivity Of Coors Banquet In The Twentieth Century

Part of the mystique that surrounds the Coors brand, its flagship yellow stripe beer comes from the fact that it was only available in an exclusive list of eleven states. This being true between the end of prohibition and the year nineteen seventy-six. All of these eleven states being ones that were situated on the western coast of the United States Of America.

The reason for this is because of the original variety of Coors banquet was unpasteurised and did not contain any preservatives. As such, when it was stored and transported, the yellow stripe beer will need to be kept cold for the duration in order to be safe to consume. As such, long-distance trips for the distribution of the Coors banquet weren’t possible at the time. 

Additionally, in certain states in America, it was illegal to distribute and stock unpasteurized beer in stores. Meaning there was no real incentive for the Coors company to sell them in these states. As such, many people have come to the conclusion that in the states east of Texas and the Mississippi that Coors beer was illegal.

This all said though, the steps toward Coors being distributed nationally would begin in the nineteen fifties. During this time Coors helped pioneer the processes of using cold filtering, refrigerated trucks, sterile filling and aluminium cans. However, despite all of these steps, the nationalisation of Coors would only be completed upon in the year nineteen ninety-one when it had finally come to Indiana.

Yellow Jacket Beer - A Cool History of Coors Banquet Beer & Pull-Tab Cans

Coors Banquet In The Modern Day

In the modern-day, the Coors brand is well known around a large amount of the world. However, the mystique of the yellow stripe beer is something that is renowned around America and in many other corners of the world. 

One of the most prominent and recent examples of such is America’s neighbours to the north. Coors Banquet beer didn’t manage to reach Canada until as late as the year twenty thirteen. However, even before this, there was a high demand for this particular beer in Canada with there being a very popular Facebook page “Bring Coors Banquet to Canada” which would immediately pay off. 

The results were that even before the distribution of Coors in Canada, there was already high demand. As a result, yellow jacket beer was immediately unavailable in many regions due to Canadians rushing out to buy it. For example, one Alberta storekeeper stated that “New stock is gone before we know it, with customers buying it by the flat”.

Meanwhile, stateside the legend of Coors Banquet continues to grow to this day. One such example of this is that occurred in twenty fourteen. This was when a firefighter used a case of Coors Banquet to extinguish a car fire he came across on the road. In response to the destruction of this perfectly good beer, the Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison stated that he supported “the extinguishment of fire, no matter what the cost.”

More recently though, Coors launched a redesign of the Coors banquet can design in twenty twenty-two. This is called “the heritage can” which fell under the legacy collection. Aesthetically, the design of this new can is something of a throwback to that of older Coors banquet cans.

As illustrated in the section above, Coors Banquet beer has something of a unique and storied history. This of course ranging from its founding to the prohibition era. Along with its exclusivity for most of the twentieth century and its continuing impact on American culture. That said though, whilst there is also a great history to find behind this beer, it has also had a great impact on the popular culture of the United States Of America.

These pop culture influences range from a wide variety of different moments and appearances in media. Some of which include appearances in television shows and movies, music, brand-sponsored shows and even something of a cult! With that in mind then, for more information on the pop culture impact that Coors banquet or yellow jacket beer has had, check out the headings below:

The Coors Show

Coors is not a stranger to the idea of getting into the entertainment industry. An early clear example of this is The Coors Show which started in the nineteen forties. This was a variety show on the radio that featured big-name individuals. One such was the that of American composer, pianist, and jazz leader orchestra Duke Ellington. Another individual of note is Mel Torme also known as “The Velvet Fog” who was a well known American musician, singer, composer, arranger, drummer, actor, and author at the time.

I’m The Law

In a similar vein to the spirit of The Coors Show, when Colorado got its first television series, “I’m The Law” very much got behind the show. The show was a police drama that starred George Raft, an icon of gangster movies at the time. 

The Cult Of Coors

As mentioned above, Coors was known for exclusivity in the twentieth century. By the nineteen sixties, the brand had reached something of a cult status as a result of the limited availability of Coors banquet. 

Some legends say that both Presidents Eisenhower and Gerald Ford would keep Coors Banquet well-stocked aboard Air Force One. Ford in particular was also known to have supposedly had also served it at the White House Mess every Thursday.

In addition to this though, Keith Richards would also regularly keep a can easily to hand when on stage. Meanwhile, Paul Newman once told Roger Ebert that “The best domestic beer, bar none, is Coors.”

Even earlier than this, the legendary comedian W.C. Fields was known to be close friends with George Coors. Something that can clearly be seen in one of his holiday notes featuring him holding a bottle of Coors.

Yellow Jacket Beer - A Cool History of Coors Banquet Beer & Pull-Tab Cans

Smokey And The Bandit

Perhaps one famous and iconic example of Coors Banquet appearing in popular fiction is in the nineteen seventy-seven film “Smokey And The Bandit”. The film was inspired somewhat by the cult status of yellow jacket beer director Hal Needham was in Georgia. Here he was coordinating stunts for the film “Gator” which also starred Burt Reynolds. 

Needham had been gifted some Coors by his driver captain who had sneaked it into the state from California. However, the bottles kept vanishing and Hal Needham soon discovered that his hotel cleaning lady had been stealing them from his room. As a result of this Needham came to the conclusion when talking about Coors that “This must be serious stuff. Bootlegging Coors would make a good plotline for a movie.”

As such, the following year “Smokey And The Bandit” would release. The film follows a pair of truck drivers. Both of whom are hired to smuggle a tractor-trailer full of beer across state lines. This being as a result of a bet with a local tycoon. The result of which being a cross-state chase as they are pursued by a sheriff and jilted fiance of a bride to be they picked up along the way.

The “Beers To You Duet” By Clint Eastwood And Ray Charles

Perhaps one of the most unusual quirks of the Coors Banquet cult phenomenon is the fact that it led to the creation of a duet by Clint Eastwood and Ray Charles. This being for the soundtrack of the film “Any Which Way You Can”.

Now, this is a pretty out-there film about a trucker turned prizefighter and his brother. Both of whom end up in a series of misadventures involving women, corrupt cops, motorcycle gangs and the mob. All whilst the two brothers are accompanied by their pet orangutan.

However, perhaps one of the most out their aspects of the film is the aforementioned contribution to the soundtrack by Clint Eastwood and Ray Charles. This being a heartfelt duet that was a tribute to Coors beer called “Beers To You”. 

Coors And The Sexiest Man Alive

During the nineteen-eighties, the NCIS star Mark Harmon was the official spokesperson for the brand of Coors beer. Now, on its own, this may seem insignificant. However, Harmon’s star shone particularly brightly during this era. As such, in nineteen eighty-six he was announced as People Magazine’s world’s sexiest man. However, with how these types of competitions are organised, there is a chance that this result may not have come about completely fairly.

Coors And… Jumping Off Stuff

Now, this is one of the more odd phenomena related to the Coors brand. Essentially, in nineteen seventy-nine, Coors created a strange ‘sport’. This being to do with jumping off of high rocky inclines into the pools of rocky mountain spring water. Traditionally, this was done shirtless in jeans and whilst sporting the best beard that you can muster. This quickly became something of a fun, iconic high country pass time in the vein of something like kayaking or skiing.

Now, of course, especially when combined with alcohol jumping off of things isn’t exactly the wisest of things you can do. However, let’s be honest, when have people who drink plenty of alcohol ever done anything all that sensible. As such, the tradition of people jumping off rocky cliffs in relation to Coors continues to this day. In particular, during a Coors twenty-fourteen campaign that asked its fans “How far would you go for free Coors Light?”, a woman videoed herself jumping off a rocky cliff in pursuit of free Coors light.

Coors Banquet And E.T.

Speaking of Coors spokespeople though, one of the other notable figures in Banquet’s history is perhaps the most famous extraterrestrial himself, E.T. Now, a mascot character from a famous kids’ film may seem like an odd choice. Especially for alcoholic beverage spokesperson, and it absolutely is.

However, this makes perfect sense as the character is used in what may have been one of the greatest “drink responsibly” advertisements ever created. This is because in the advert E.T encourages drinkers to “phone home” instead of driving when they have been drinking.  

E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial (4K UHD)

Coors In Yellowstone

In more recent years there are other examples of the yellow jacket beer showing up in popular culture. One of which being within the context of the show “Yellowstone”. The show very much harkens back to the all American and slightly rogueish elements of Coors Banquet’s history. This being due to how the story focuses on a ranching family. Each of which are embroiled in a world of government corruption, murder mysteries and conflict from external and internal threats.

Acting as the central family’s muscle is classic American hard man Rip Wheeler who is a cool yet occasionally cruel man who will protect his family at all costs. Suffice it to say, this character is very much one who is reminiscent of the cowboys and bootleggers of yesteryear. As such, like Burt Reynolds’s character in Smokey And The Bandit; Rip is a man who has a keen taste for a Coors Banquet, making him something of a fictional spokesperson for the brand.

Coors In Cobra Kai

Another example of modern Coors Banquet being present in modern-day popular culture is its presence in the show Cobra Kai. Following the antagonist of the nineteen eighty-four movie “Karate Kid”, Johnny. Cobra Kai follows Johnny in the modern-day with his rivalry with Danny LaRusso. This having become reignited by Johnny refounding his old childhood karate dojo. Followed by Danny creating one of her own.

At this point, both men have solidly reached middle age. As such, Johnny has become a man who doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks of him. Equally, he also has a taste for maybe a few too many Coors Banquets. Meanwhile, he also very much marches to his own drum all the same. As such, whilst not exactly the archetypical hero character, Johnny does fit well as an antihero character in the vain of Rip or indeed The Bandit.

Answered: Yellow Jacket Beer – A Cool History of Coors Banquet Beer & Pull-Tab Cans

As shown above, yellow jacket beer or Coors Banquet has something of a rich history. This being both within popular culture and within its own contexts. These of course include appearances of Coors in films or television shows such as Smokey And The Bandit or Yellowstone. Meanwhile, the storied history of the company from its origins. Along with Coors pivot in the prohibition era and exclusivity in the twentieth century. Each of which combined with the pop culture presence have given Coors Banquet something of a unique mystique. This being something that other brands often lack.

With the above in mind then, when you are wanting to have a delicious alcoholic beverage. Especially one that is a throwback in flavour and feel of a classic American lager. Then yellow jacket beer is the best bet for you. Especially, when you also wish for said drink to also be something an interesting talking point.

FAQ – Yellow Jacket Beer – A Cool History of Coors Banquet Beer & Pull-Tab Cans

What beer is called a yellow jacket?

Yellow Jacket beer is a type of beer that will be more commonly known by the name Coors Banquet. The reason for this is that the label found on the can of beer is a distinctive and easily recognisable yellow colour.

What kind of beer do they drink on the show Yellowstone?

In the show Yellowstone, many of the characters drink a particular type of beer. This being that of Coors Banquet or Yellow Jacket beer, which is in particular, a common favourite of the character Rip Wheeler.

Why is Coors called the Banquet beer?

In the late nineteenth century, Coors would often be enjoyed by the thirsty miners of Colorado within banquet halls or enormous banquet tents within the region. As such, the light beverage would gradually become known colloquially within these circles as the “banquet beer” by the miners. However, the name Banquet Beer is not one that would be adopted by the Coors beer company until nineteen thirty-seven in order to harken back to a more nostalgic age.

What kind of beer is Coors Banquet?

Coors Banquet is a golden lager beer made by the Coors company. The name was adopted from the colloquial name that the Colorado miners had dubbed it since they tended to enjoy it in banquet halls or large banquet tents in the region.