Finding Itself in a Legal Pickle, Charity Sells PBR to Vlasic Tycoon

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?

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9 Responses to Finding Itself in a Legal Pickle, Charity Sells PBR to Vlasic Tycoon

  1. satjiwan says:

    I see, well taste really (i did try one just to see what the hype was about), an industrial light lager like Bud, Miller, Coors. i.e. something i’m not interested in drinking.

    but now i can even tell people that the “challenger” brand image PBR has, is pretty much obsolete, and no longer carries the lesser of two evils cache.

  2. Dave Bonta says:

    Why the hipsters aren’t drinking National Bohemian is beyond me. It’s got “bohemian” right in the name!

  3. The “charitable fondation” didn’t really buy Pabst. It was called the The Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation which owned S&P corp, which owned Pabst. I’m not 100% on this, but I think the foundation was set up when the beer-ruining Paul Kalmanovitz died, and then started after his wife died.

    • SCHOONER 43 says:

      MR. PAUL RUINED A LOT OF BREWERIES. THE COMPANY STARTED AS LUCKY BREWERIES INC. THEN WENT TO GENERAL BREWING COMPANY. THE CHARITABLE FOUNDATION STARTED BEFORE THE PURCHASE OF PABST IN 1985. SAD TO THINK THAT ALL THE PROFIT PABST MADE NEVER WENT BACK INTO THE BREWERY.

      • SCHOONER 43 says:

        I AM TRYING TO ADD TO WHAT I POSTED EARLIER ABOUT PABST. THE COMPANY STARTED OUT AS LUCKY BREWERIES INC, THEN GENERAL BREWING COMPANY, THEN FALSTAFF BREWING COMPANY, AND JUST AS MANY ADDRESSES. 2601 NEWHALL STREET SAN FRANCISCO. 470 TENTH STREET SAN FRANCISCO. 21 TAMAL VISTA BLVD CORTE MADERA, CALIF. AND THE CURRANT ADDRESS IN MILL VALLEY, CALIFORNIA. IF MR. PAUL WANTED TO HE HAD THE MONEY AND THE KNOW HOW TO PUT ANY OF HIS BREWERIES TO THE TOP, WHETHER IT WAS LUCKY LAGER, FALSTAFF, PEARL OR PABST BUT ITS TOO LATE NOW.

  4. Matt Sweeny says:

    This begs the ultimate question. At what point does your favorite business “sell out”? IMO it was when Metallica started making movie sound tracks instead of bad-ass metal albums.

    Contract brewing can be disconnected for example when a business tycoon with deep pockets is simply managing a brand but the true answer lies in the story behind the beer. Look at Furthermore Beer in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Furthermore is real people brewing small-batch, cutting edge, funky craft beers which are contract brewed for Furthermore Beer at Sand Creek Brewery in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.

  5. […] Finding Itself in a Legal Pickle, Charity Sells PBR to Vlasic Tycoon (via Beer Activist) I personally like PBR, but Beer Activist offers up a take I find interesting. His blog seems pretty cool, as he is big into organic brewing. My take is as long as it tastes good, I’ll try it once, but it’s good to see those out there standing up for brewing they believe in. 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 industr … Read More […]

  6. I reblogged this on my own site. I’m a Midwesterner who writes about beer and music. I like PBR personally but I understand the distaste one might have over contract brewing.

  7. Oh my URL’s http://www.elloboverde.com if you want to see the repost or read any of my stuff. I like your blog. Got it bookmarked. Take care!

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