Robin Hood Cream Ale And Other Cheap Beers Of the ’70s

My post on summer cider, and particularly the picture of Errol Flynn in iconic Robin Hood garb, inevitably reminded me of Robin Hood Cream Ale.

The corner grocery store about a block and a half from my college apartment at 101 West 8th Avenue in Columbus specialized in cheap beer.  How surprising in a campus community!  On any given Friday afternoon, a stroll down to the store would find a frenzied press of students of The Ohio State University rushing to buy as much beer — that is, as much dirt-cheap beer — as the wallet could bear.  The store’s stock of foodstuffs consisted of three categories — (1) various forms of beef jerky, (2) Hostess Bakery products like Twinkies, Ho Hos and cupcakes, and (3) beer.  Approximately 99.7 percent of the store’s available footage was devoted to beer.

The ’70s really was the golden hour for cheap beer.  A visit to the corner grocery might find several cases of warm Billy Beer laid in, or Burger Beer, or Blatz, or even a totally generic brew in a white can with the black-stenciled label “BEER.”  Of the various choices, however, the preferred selection was Robin Hood Cream Ale.  A six-pack of 16-ounce cans cost $1.19, which meant that you could properly greet the coming weekend in style for an amount that usually could be cobbled together by carefully checking the sofa cushions.  Unlike, say, Billy Beer, which really was undrinkable except in extremis, Robin Hood had a decent taste.  It also featured a guy who looked like Woodrow the Woodsman lifting a flagon of frothy brew, and a slogan that had “Ye” in it.  What could be classier?

It went down easy on a Friday afternoon as you watched a Star Trek rerun and waited for the Friday night party to begin.

20 thoughts on “Robin Hood Cream Ale And Other Cheap Beers Of the ’70s

  1. Good article. I lived in Ohio but I don’t remember Robin Hood Cream Ale. I do remember having Little Kings Cream Ale. I think it was from Cincy.

    Like

  2. I see this is an older post of yours but I just ran across it today…Thanks for the memories…I lived in Columbus from 1982 to 1985….We would go to a beer drive-through on Morse Road near Cleveland Avenue….they had 16 ounce Robin Hood Cream Ales…and you are right, they were priced cheap but tasted much better then our “standard” beer, cases of Old Milwaukee, which went for only $6.65 for a case of 24.

    Like

  3. Brings back old memories of my time at the College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio. In 1977 or 1978, a bunch of us guys were sitting around the wall in an empty room one night, when in comes someone with a csse of Robin Hood Cream Ale, I think in bottles. We were soon banging our bottles on the floor singing “Robin Hood Ale!, Robin Hood Ale!” at the top of our lungs. Never saw it before or since.

    Like

  4. Oh yes. I remember getting Robin Hood ale in those days. Can’t remember the price exactly, but I want to say that a case of 16 oz. bottles went for around $3.99. Under $5 for sure. It was a gift from Bacchus. I also remember often waking up with a headache. Could have been the amount, but I think it happened even at moderate quantities. Still, it was worth it and an experience I look back at often with fond memories.

    Like

  5. Ah…Ye Olde Robin Hood Ale…:) Back in the day..circa 1974 or so…in the Dayton area we had a beer drive through which would refill the stout waxed cardboard cases…trading the empties for new. That meant once an elderly looking but underage guy like myself got the initial case…we were in!!! Can’t rmember the name of the place, but it might have been on E Third. Also used to play pool for Little Kings out in Yellow Springs at a place called The Desolation Row…how appropriate for a college town dark hangout…:) Thanks for the memories!!

    Like

  6. Oh yes what some memories! Growing up remembering my Dad drinking Robin Hood Ale – Like Dennis post, lived in Yellow Springs and the drive thru was “Eddies” where you could order pizza too. Now its called “Peaches” and the drive thru is gone and so is Robin Hood Ale! Didn’t drink beer back in the day (mid 70’s) but started out with that good ole 151!

    Like

  7. i lived in columbus off & on frome early 70s to 80..a lot of that time on campus area…i remember robin hood ale very well…too bad its gone…LOL…

    Like

  8. We used to buy it by the case (it came in 16 oz. bottles as wells as cans) and was the standard brew of our Dungeons and Dragons group. After all, the “Hear Ye, Men of Adventure…” was pretty much irresistible. We bought it at Jim Turner’s Bad-A** Carry Out and Pizza at the corner of Chittenden and N. 4th in Columbus.

    Like

  9. Any frat man at UD in 1976-77 should remember Kelly’s Bar on Wyoming Street. They had a weekly Robin Hood night. What a lousy brew! No one that I ever knew would buy it a second time.

    Like

  10. We used to buy it by the case at Miami University and the empty cases would stack up to the ceiling before we would haul them all back. It was cheap and did not taste bad. I remember it had a real smooth taste. I would buy it again I I could find it and will check out Dan’s comment about it being made in Tennessee.

    Like

  11. Thanks for the article. I grew up near Cincinnati, where Little Kings Cream Ale was the default party beverage, but I remember seeing a Robin Hood Cream Ale can on the side of the road on a walk in the town of Cedarville. Had never seen it before and have never seen it since. Don’t know why the name stuck with me but it did.

    Like

  12. Went on a 7th grade field trip in the spring of 1976 to the Air Force Museum in Dayton , on the way back the bus stopped at a little park and sitting on the picnic table was an Robin Hood can. The only one I’d ever seen and I had a beer can collection so it was a prize. The other day I took my son up to Veaches toy store in Richmond, IN to check out there model trains and there was a tanker car with a Robin Beer label on it. Hadn’t thought about it in 30 some years, but I still have that collection boxed up in the attic.

    Like

  13. For 30 years my Dad worked for August Wagner Brewery in Columbus Ohio. One of the beers made there was Robin hood cream ale.As much as I have tried I have not been able to find any pictures or ads for this beer.I miss the brewery and the times when I would take my Dads lunch to him and sit there and watch all the Germans eat there Limburger on rye bread and onions. We are not German and my Dad was the only non drinker that I know of in the brewery.Back then as long as you did not get drunk on the job drinking was ok.

    Like

  14. One of the most famous bars in Kent was named the Robin Hood Inn. Formerly a English
    Tudor style family restaurant. Then around 1968 it was converted to my most memorable bar while at Kent State. It kinda reminded me of the Varsity club atmosphere of the same time. Over crowded, juke box playing Suite:Judy Blue Eyes, dark wood and most importantly, serving Robin Hood Ale. Most drinkers thought the tavern had brewed their own namesake beer. The best part was that it was 16oz and the cost was only $.25 then. A dollar could do some real damage. I was saddened recently while driving thru Kent and saw the “Hood” had been torn down and replaced by a fast food restaurant. BTW, how is it that kids nowdays can afford all of the Craft Brews? I barely made it on the cheap stuff.

    Like

  15. Robin Hood ale was made by the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, which also made Iron City beer. It came in 16 oz bottles, was cheap and tasted pretty good. My underage friends and me would order a case to be delivered to my friends trailer on Friday nights when his mom was working, than go to the hs football game in Washington PA. This was in the mid to late 1960s. Looks like the brand label has been purchased and it may be in production elsewhere.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s