Hamm's originated in 1865 when Theodore Hamm started a brewery in St. Paul, Minnesota. Hamm's eventual became Minnesota's leading brewery. Hamm's reached its heyday in the mid-1960's when it was actually the seventh largest producer in America. It began to decline in the 1970's and in 1975 it was acquired by Olympia. Hamm's is now owned and produced by the Miller Brewing Company.
"From the land of sky blue waters (waters)/Hamm's the beer refreshing/Hamm's the beer refreshing/Hamm's."
The cartoon bear was their mascot from 1953 until 2003. Good luck having a cartoon animal spokesman for your beer nowadays.
Hamm's - This 4.7% ABV beer pours a pale golden, sun-bleached straw in color with a half-inch of pure white foam. The aroma is slightly sweet and metallic, a bit grainy, think apple juice poured over cracked corn in a galvanized steel bucket. The taste is mild, better than the aroma, some light golden grain, a bit of cracked corn, lightly sweet, but not much. Almost no hops are apparent, just enough to lead to a lightly grassy finish, but almost no bitterness. It is extremely carbonated with a biting and crisp finish. Not much going on here, but inoffensive, and probably better than say, Budweiser. It is much better straight from the can.
Special Light - This beer pours a very pale, sun bleached straw, light golden in color. There is a small white head that rapidly dissipates. The aroma is a very light grain, some apple, a touch of citrus and a touch of lagerish hops. The taste is light, crisp, clean, a little grain, a tiny touch of lager funk and hop bitterness. I think this might actually be a bit more flavorful than the regular. It is well carbonated and gives a refreshing sting on the back of the throat.
Golden Draft - This beer pours light golden with a half-inch of white foamy head. The aroma is grain, dry corn, light straw and just a touch of hop bitterness. There are no apple or metallic notes. The taste is grain, corn, an ever so slight sweetness and a mild hop bitterness. This is one of the best American adjunct lagers.
The distribution of Hamm's is limited, but the distribution of the Special Light and Golden Draft are extremely limited. I have only ever seen them in southern Minnesota. Where else have people seen them?
(Commenter below found the Special Light in Michigan and it is now also in Iowa City, Iowa. I was very surprised in January 2014 to find Hamm's on tap at the Deadwood bar in Iowa City.)