Pabst Blue Ribbon

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Pabst Blue Ribbon
Pabst Blue Ribbon logo.svg
TypeAmerican-style lager
ManufacturerPabst Brewing Company
Introduced1844
Alcohol by volume3.8–6.5%
Hard Coffee 5%
Hard Seltzer 8%
Whiskey 40%[1]
Websitepabstblueribbon.com

Pabst Blue Ribbon, commonly abbreviated PBR, is an American lager beer sold by Pabst Brewing Company, established in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1844 and currently based in San Antonio. Originally called Best Select, and then Pabst Select, the current name comes from the blue ribbons tied around the bottle neck between 1882 and 1916.

History[edit]

Gottlieb and Frederika Pabst and their twelve-year-old son Frederick arrived in the United States in 1848 and settled in Chicago where Frederick eventually found work on the ships of Lake Michigan.[2] In 1862, Frederick married Maria Best, daughter of Philip Best, founder and owner of the Best Brewing Company, and in 1863 became a brewer at his father-in-law's brewery.[3]

When Philip Best retired to Germany in 1867, Pabst and Emil Schandein – his sister-in-law's husband and the vice-president of Best Brewery – worked to transform the company into one of the nation's largest brewers, capitalizing on, among other things, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that destroyed nineteen Chicago breweries and helped position Milwaukee as the leading beer-producing city in the United States.[4] In 1889, Schandein died, leaving Pabst as president and his widow, Lisette Schandein, as vice-president.[5][6] In 1890, Pabst changed the "Best" letterhead to "Pabst" and the Pabst Brewing Company officially began.

This is the original Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. Nature's choicest products provide its prized flavor. Only the finest of hops and grains are used. Selected as America's Best in 1893.

— Quote from Pabst Blue Ribbon label, referring to the award it received at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.[7]

Brand name[edit]

Pabst Blue Ribbon.jpg

The company has historically claimed that its flagship beer was renamed Pabst Blue Ribbon following its win as "America's Best" at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Whether the brand actually won an award in 1893 is unclear. Some contemporaneous accounts indicate that many vendors were frustrated by the fair's refusal to award such prizes. One account says that the only prizes awarded by the executive committee were bronze medals, in recognition of "some independent and essential excellence in the article displayed", rather than "merely to indicate the relative merits of competing exhibits". However, the beer had won many other awards at many other fairs – so many, in fact, that Captain Pabst had already started tying silk ribbons around every bottle. It was a time when beer bottles were more likely to be embossed than labeled and the ribbons were likely added at great cost to Pabst. But Pabst's display of pride was also a display of marketing savvy, as patrons started asking their bartenders for "the blue-ribbon beer."[8][9]

Peak, decline, and revival[edit]

A 1911 advertisement showing a blue ribbon tied around the bottle

Sales of Pabst peaked at 18 million barrels in 1977.[10] In 1980 and 1981, the company had four different CEOs, and by 1982 it was fifth in beer sales in the U.S., dropping from third in 1980.[11]

In 1996, Pabst headquarters left Milwaukee,[12] and the company ended beer production at its main complex there.[13] By 2001, the brand's sales were below a million barrels. That year, the company got a new CEO, Brian Kovalchuk, formerly the CFO of Benetton, and major changes at the company's marketing department were made.[14]

In 2010, food industry executive C. Dean Metropoulos bought the company for a reported $250 million.[15] In 2011, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission forced two advertising executives to cease efforts to raise $300 million to buy the Pabst Brewing Company. The two had raised over $200 million by crowdsourcing, collecting pledges via their website, Facebook, and Twitter.[16] In November 2014, Eugene Kashper, an American beer entrepreneur, and TSG Consumer Partners acquired Pabst Brewing Company.[17][18][19] In 2015, Pabst won the "best large brewing company of the year" award at the Great American Beer Festival.[20]

Pabst Blue Ribbon is now available in several international markets, including Australia (where it is brewed locally),[21] Canada,[22] Ukraine, Russia,[23] Brazil[24] and China.[25]

On October 8, 2020, the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation announce that Pabst is moving its headquarters from Los Angeles to San Antonio, Texas.[26]

After a brief return, in 2020, Pabst announced it was again leaving Milwaukee, the city where it was founded, with the closing the Captain Pabst Pilot House, a taproom and microbrewery which the company had opened in 2017 as part of a redevelopment of its historic brewery in the city.[27] The city’s name continues to be a prominent part of its branding, despite it having no direct presence in or current impact on the area.[28][29]

Marketing[edit]

Pabst Blue Ribbon concession stand at Progressive Field in Cleveland

In the mid-1940s, the brand was the titular sponsor of the radio comedy show Blue Ribbon Town, starring Groucho Marx. It later was a sponsor of the radio mystery show Night Beat in the early 1950s.

The beer experienced a sales revival in the early 2000s after a two-decade-long slump, largely due to its increasing popularity among urban hipsters.[30][31] Although the Pabst website features user-submitted photography, much of which features twenty-something Pabst drinkers dressed in alternative fashions,[32] the company has opted not to fully embrace the countercultural label in its marketing, fearing that doing so could jeopardize the very "authenticity" that made the brand popular (as was the case with the poorly received OK Soda).[30][33][34] Pabst instead targets its desired market niche through the sponsorship of indie music, local businesses, post-collegiate sports teams,[35] dive bars and radio programming like National Public Radio's All Things Considered.[31][36] The company encourages the online submission of fan art, which is subsequently shown on the beer's official Facebook page.[37]

Beginning in 2021, Pabst began supporting professional wrestling (in particular the independent circuit) after becoming a sponsor for Matt Cardona's podcast. It eventually led to the beer's first major television commercial in decades during the August 4, 2021 broadcast of AEW Dynamite, after it volunteered to step in to replace Domino's Pizza as a sponsor of All Elite Wrestling following backlash from Domino's when Nick Gage used a pizza cutter on Chris Jericho in a deathmatch on the previous week's Dynamite, with said spot immediately airing before a Domino's commercial.[38]

In popular culture[edit]

In 1973, American country music artist Johnny Russell recorded, "Rednecks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer," a song written by Bob McDill and Wayland Holyfield.

In the 1986 David Lynch film Blue Velvet, the character Frank Booth asks main character Jeffrey Beaumont for his favorite beer. Beaumont answers by saying Heineken, to which Booth gets infuriated; shouting "Pabst Blue Ribbon" at him.[39]

Pabst Blue Ribbon is sometimes featured (in a negative context) in the popular TV show South Park.[40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Products". Archived from the original on January 12, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  2. ^ Ogle, Maureen (2006). Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer. New York: Harcourt. p. 49. ISBN 0151010129.
  3. ^ Ogle. Ambitious Brew. p. 51.
  4. ^ Skilnik, Bob (2006). Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago. Ft. Lee, N.J.: Barricade Books. pp. 24–25. ISBN 1569803129.
  5. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. J.T. White. 1893. p. 294.
  6. ^ Mansion, The Pabst. "Pabst Brewery History". pabstmansion.com. Archived from the original on August 22, 2017. Retrieved December 25, 2016.
  7. ^ "The brewery's flagship beer was finally renamed Pabst Blue Ribbon following its win as 'America's Best' at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago". Archived from the original on June 15, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  8. ^ Stamp, Jimmy. "Where Did Pabst Win that Blue Ribbon?". smithsonianmag.com. Archived from the original on April 12, 2016. Retrieved December 25, 2016.
  9. ^ Bancroft, Hubert Howe. The Book of the Fair: an historical and descriptive presentation of the world's science, art, and industry, as viewed through the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893, designed to set forth the display made by the Congress of Nations, of human achievement in material form, so as to more effectually to illustrate the profess of mankind in all the departments of civilized life. Chicago, San Francisco: The Bancroft Company, 1893. p.83. (10 v. [approx., 1000p.]: illus. (incl. ports.), 41 cm.)
  10. ^ Pabst Brewing Co. Timeline from the company's website
  11. ^ Ray Kenney (January 24, 1982). "The Blue-Ribbon Battle for Pabst". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  12. ^ Carrie Antlfinger (April 4, 2014). "Group Wants to Bring Pabst Blue Ribbon Back to Milwaukee". Associated Press. Archived from the original on April 4, 2014. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  13. ^ Don Terry (November 6, 1996). "Brewery's Exit Leaves a Bitter Taste". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  14. ^ Rob Walker (June 22, 2003). "The Marketing of No Marketing". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 4, 2017. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  15. ^ "Pabst Brewing Sells Itself to Metropoulos". The New York Times. June 25, 2010. Archived from the original on November 12, 2017. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Michael J. De La Merced (June 8, 2011). "S.E.C. Stops Would-Be Buyers of Pabst Beer". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 4, 2018. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  17. ^ Wilmore, James (November 14, 2014). "Pabst Brewing Co sale finalised as Eugene Kashper, TSG take reins". Archived from the original on November 27, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  18. ^ Lockwood, Denise (November 14, 2014). "Pabst Brewing Co. sale completed, company to stay in Los Angeles". Milwaukee Business Journal. Archived from the original on November 18, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  19. ^ Gelles, David (November 18, 2014). "Hey Guys, the Russians Aren't Buying Pabst After All" Archived November 1, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, New York Times. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  20. ^ Daykin, Tom (September 28, 2015). "Titletown and Pabst Gain National Awards at Great American Beer Festival" Archived October 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  21. ^ "Tribe to brew Pabst Blue Ribbon in Australia". Drinks Trade. September 3, 2018. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  22. ^ "Pabst Blue Ribbon". pabstblueribbon.ca. Archived from the original on November 5, 2020. Retrieved December 25, 2016.
  23. ^ Евгений Депутат (April 15, 2018). ""Pabst Blue Ribbon" – американская лицензионная новинка из Радомышля". beerplace.com.ua. Archived from the original on November 5, 2020. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  24. ^ "Pabst Blue Ribbon Brasil". Pabst Blue Ribbon Brasil.
  25. ^ Miller, Russell (2000). Doing Business in Newly Privatized Markets: Global Opportunities and Challenges.
  26. ^ "Pabst Blue Ribbon moves headquarters from California to downtown San Antonio". October 8, 2020. Archived from the original on November 1, 2020. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  27. ^ "Pabst Brewery Operations Leaving Milwaukee, Again". December 2020.
  28. ^ https://pabstblueribbon.com/
  29. ^ "Reimagined Pabst Brewery to permanently close and move operations out of Milwaukee for a second time". December 2, 2020.
  30. ^ a b Rob Walker (June 22, 2003). "The Marketing of No Marketing". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 4, 2017. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
  31. ^ a b "Marketing With a Whisper". Fast Company. January 11, 2003. Archived from the original on April 2, 2004. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  32. ^ "Pabst Blue Ribbon Homepage". Archived from the original on January 24, 2008. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  33. ^ Carly Berwick (June 25, 2008). "Murketing to Hipsters Saves Pabst, Boosts Apple". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on January 18, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  34. ^ Edward McClelland (August 11, 2008). "And the next great American beer will be ... ?". Salon.com. Archived from the original on August 11, 2008. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
  35. ^ "Pabst Blue Ribbon Lacrosse". Archived from the original on March 29, 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2009. PBR Lacrosse is the official lacrosse team of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. PBR Lacrosse is the premier post-collegiate lacrosse team in Houston, Texas. The team is made up of post-NCAA Division I, II and III and MCLA players. They compete against SWLA teams throughout the state of Texas and play in tournaments in the southern United States region.
  36. ^ Dan Eaton (November 16, 2008). "Pabst gives marketing campaign a blue ribbon for effectiveness". Columbus Business First. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  37. ^ "Facebook". facebook.com. Archived from the original on October 23, 2018. Retrieved December 25, 2016.
  38. ^ "PBR to Air Wrestling Ad During AEW Dynamite After Domino's Debacle, PBR Embraces Indies".
  39. ^ Brion, Raphael (June 1, 2010). "Dennis Hopper's Beer Wisdom from Blue Velvet". Eater. Archived from the original on February 15, 2020. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  40. ^ "The Poor Kid". Archived from the original on April 2, 2017. Retrieved February 15, 2020 – via www.imdb.com.

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