In recent years, PBR has acquired a sheen of authenticity and become the preferred fizz of hipsters seeking blue collar street cred and a cheap buzz.
In the late 1800s, Pabst was the largest brewing company in America. But it lost market share through the twentieth century and in 1985 it was purchased by a charitable foundation. In 1996, Past closed the doors of its brewery and has since had its flagship PBR as well as several other cheap industrial light lagers and malt liquors contract brewed by SABMillerCoors.
The non-profit charity was eventually required by law to sell off what was a profit-driven company. In May of this year a sale was finalized to pickle tycoon C. Dean Metropoulos. It’s corn syrup-based recipe continues to be contract brewed at multiple MillerCoors facilities. In this context, one must question the meaning of “blue collar authenticity” when Pabst is no longer a brewery but a clutch of contract-brewed brands managed by a cadre of marketers.
What do you see when you look at a can of PBR? Overall-clad brewery workers shoveling malt and factory workers popping open cold ones after their shift on the production line? Or a wealthy man hiring people to buy advertising space?