Domestic Beer Craft Beer & Microbrews

Our History

William Hansford Bess operated W. H. Bess and Sons General Store in Blodgett, Missouri with his son, Joda William. On September 15, 1927 a fire destroyed a portion of the business district of downtown Blodgett.

W.H.Bess and Sons General Store was a complete loss. W. H. thought the railroad community of Poplar Bluff would offer better economic opportunity and the family moved from Blodgett to Poplar Bluff in the winter of 1927. Herschel Wilburn Bess moved with the family to Poplar Bluff and joined the firm from 1928 to 1955. The family leased a storefront adjacent to the ice plant on the banks of the Black River. Access to the ice plant and proximity to railroad transportation provided the family with the means to enter the fresh fruit and vegetable business in March of 1928. The produce markets of St. Louis provided the firm with locally grown produce. The firm had a very modest beginning in the wholesale distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables in a fifty mile radius surrounding the Poplar Bluff area.

In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt ran for the President of the United States on a platform promising repeal of federal laws of prohibition. In 1933, at the worst part of the depression, over one fifth of the United States workforce was unemployed. The Twenty-first Amendment which repealed prohibition was fully ratified by all the states on December 5, 1933.

At the repeal of prohibition, non-pasteurized draft beer was produced in wooden barrels. To prevent spoilage, the beer was shipped and stored under ice refrigeration. Again, the ice plant and the proximity to railroad transportation offered the firm an entry into the beer business. On July 31, 1934. W.H. Bess and Sons was issued the one hundred and fifty eighth wholesale beer license issued by the newly established Missouri Department of liquor Control. On August 14, 1939, Bluff City Beer And Produce Company was incorporated by the State Of Missouri.

After fifty year period of operation, the Company divested its interest in the fruit and vegetable activities in 1978 to devote its full energies to the rapidly growing wholesale beer distributing business. Bluff City Beer Co. holds the oldest Federal Basic Permit and wholesale beer license issued by the State of Missouri.

Herschel Bess retired from the Company in 1955 to pursue other interests in the banking industry. W. H. Bess lived from 1875 until 1962. Joda W. Bess passed away in 1968 at the age of 60. Alvin "Buddy" Bess and Joda Lee Bess managed the firm until their deaths in 2007 and 2009, respectively.

Today, Bluff City Beer Co. is managed by William "Billy" Bess, David Bess, Kathy Holloway, and Margaret Guettermann. Twenty counties are serviced from three distribution centers located in Herculaneum, Cape Girardeau and Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Forty five employees work to bring "Miller Time" to the Southeast Missouri communities that have supported the firm over our history.

Imported Beer


"I've been working with David and Kathy since we've opened... They've been instrumental in helping me choose my craft beer line up." 

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Carisa Stark
Mary Jane's Burgers & Brews
Perryville, MO