Pabst Blue Ribbon: A Manifesto

Pabst Brewing Co., owner of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, and other old-line beer brands, is on the sale block again.

Pabst’s owner, the Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation, based in Mill Valley, Calif., has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to find a buyer willing to pay around $300 million, according to the New York Post, which cited unnamed sources in an article last week.

The sale effort is apparently the result of a deadline imposed by the Internal Revenue Service. Federal tax laws don’t allow charitable foundations to own for-profit companies.

The IRS initially gave the foundation until 2005 to sell Pabst. That deadline was extended to 2010 when a buyer couldn’t be found, according to a 2008 report by the Chicago Tribune.

Because Pabst doesn’t own breweries, it mainly operates as a marketing company, crafting strategies for selling dozens of brands, which also include Old Milwaukee, Stroh’s and Heileman’s Old Style. The company owns the brands and contracts out its brewing to Molson, the Canadian beer giant.

The Pabst Blue Ribbon label has made quite a comeback lately. For the four weeks ended July 12, the company saw its case sales increase 21 percent compared to a year earlier, giving it a three percent share in the high-volume sub-premium market.

This should come as no surprise to those of us who enjoy drinking great tasting beer but don’t exactly have the funds to keep a constant supply of Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale or Hoegaarden in our refrigerator. I’d like to take this opportunity to enlighten the W&J community about the wonderful merits of this American classic.

Perfunctory disclaimer: my experience is one of a 21 year old. Those who aren’t yet of age, take note and make sure you keep the Blue Ribbon in mind once you reach the absurd lawful drinking age. For everyone else, take a look in your fridge and repent!

My medium of choice is the awesome 16oz can. Nice and tall, in white, with red and blue writing. How American! As somewhat of a beer snob I usually abhor drinking straight from the can as it’s very easy to taste the aluminum. PBR however, just looks cool and is the one exception.

To properly enjoy this treat, pour it into a pint glass or mug. The head foams up quite big then quickly dissipates into a wispy white lace. It has a brilliantly clear pale golden yellow hue that seems very inviting.

If you can manage to stop ogling the beauty that is resting in your glass, when you take that first sip… just be prepared to cry. “I can’t believe I’ve been drinking Bud Light, Coor’s Light, Milwaukee’s Best, Natural Light, etc. all this time when such a marvelous brew has been available” is likely to be your first reaction.

The Ribbon has a light to moderate body, nice even crispness with a somewhat effervescent carbonation, typical of the major American macro-breweries (Miller, Bud, Coors). It’s got a little bit of hop, little bit of bitter on the finish; mouth feel is so-so, not heavy and not light. It’s basically an awesome, reliable beer to pair with simple food that needs to be washed down.

Pabst Blue Ribbon is a great premium American lager, hands down beats the big three. Whatever your preconceptions, just try it! I promise it won’t let you down.

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