What Kind of Beer Does Cousin Eddie Drink in Christmas Vacation?

Cousin Eddie is often found with a beer in his hand, most notably in close-up while he iconically empties his trailer septic tank outside the Griswold house. Modern viewers are often left scratching their heads about the label. What beer is that anyway?

Cousin Eddie is drinking Meister Brau, a popular beer brewed in Chicago for much of the 20th century. Meister Brau, and other beers from the brewery of the same name, were sold to Miller in the early-70s, so Cousin Eddie is actually drinking a predecessor of Miller Lite.

So where did Meister Brau come from? Read on to find out more about the history of this midwestern beer, and how to find Meister Brau relatives today.

Which brand of beer is Cousin Eddie drinking in Christmas Vacation?

Cousin Eddie can often be found with a can of Meister Brau in his hand. The can can clearly be seen in the scene where Eddie empties the septic tank in Clark’s yard.

This makes sense for his character as Meister Brau was an extremely popular beer in the 80’s, though at that time the beer had been purchased by Miller

History of Meister Brau beer

Meister Brau was brewed by Peter Hand Brewing Company in Chicago, Illinois from 1899 to 1978 when it was sold to Miller. Peter Hand was a Prussian immigrant and veteran of the American civil war, and he opened the brewery in 1891.

The brewery was forced to close for 13 years due to prohibition from 1920 to 1933, but was able to last and even continue to expand after reopening. An investor bought the company in 1965 and changed the name of the brewery to reflect the name of its flagship brew: Meister Brau, Inc.

They invested heavily in the Chicago market, sponsoring many professional sports teams. They saw great success with the launch of Meister Brau Lite, which became incredibly popular. This early lite beer was based on a “diet” beer recipe previously developed. 

However, due to financial mismanagement, the company was forced to sell to Miller in 1972.

Is Meister Brau still available today?

Though Meister Brau proper is no longer being manufactured, curious fans will be glad to know that, following the sale to Miller, the beer was rebranded to Miller Lite.

Though the Miller Lite recipe has changed and evolved over time, it remains similar to the Meister Brau recipe.