Founded: 1849, Milwaukee
Home territory: WI, IL, MI, OH, NC
Claim to fame: After the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, Joseph Schlitz sent hundreds of kegs to the city (because, as everyone knows, only beer can reverse smoke damage). At the turn of last century, the brand was the country's largest; in 1970, it was the world's largest. Innovations like its light-blocking brown bottle, pop-top cans, and "tallboys" established precedents that beer makers follow to this day.
Present-day status: Now owned by PBR (seeing a pattern here?), the once-proud brew is still sold in parts of the Midwest. Its bullish malt liquor, however, is distributed more widely.