The Untold Truth Of Pabst Blue Ribbon

Pabst Blue Ribbon, the lager beer beloved by hipsters everywhere, actually contains quite a bit of history just on its own label. A quick reading of the can will reveal that the beer was established in Milwaukee in 1844, and the label's assertion that it was "selected as America's best in 1893" checks out. This is a reference to Pabst winning the best beer award that year at The World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago (via Smithsonian). 

The beer continues to be brewed in Milwaukee by MillerCoors, though the original Pabst brewery, where it had been produced since 1844, was closed in 1996 (via VinePair). Though Pabst hasn't ever moved away from its birth city, a lot of things have changed for PBR since it was first introduced.

From 1882 to 1916, the company actually tied blue ribbons around the necks of bottles to flaunt the awards it had won. This tradition was brought back for a short period in the 1950s as a promotion, but was then phased out completely. The ribbons were made out of silk and Pabst went through over a million feet of the stuff every year. The only reason they stopped with the ribbon campaign was because World War I created a silk shortage.

Nearly 200 years later, PBR is still relevant

In the earliest years of its existence, Pabst became widely known from coast to coast thanks to one of its early owners. Frederick Pabst was a real estate mogul who thought it was a savvy business move to open bars and taverns all over the country (via Pabst). Naturally, those bars would serve only Pabst beer and his company's signage and logo would be seen everywhere. Pabst had opened locations in most major American cities by the turn of the century in 1900.

During the Prohibition years to keep the company afloat, they turned to soft drinks but they also produced a cheese which helped to keep them in business (via Thrillist). It was called Pabst-ett, and was so successful that it was eventually bought by Kraft. After Prohibition ended, they were one of the first breweries to begin using cans as opposed to bottles to package their product.

The beer continues to win awards, almost 200 years after its inception. In 2015, Pabst Blue Ribbon won the "best large brewing company of the year" at the Great American Beer Festival (via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). The last time the company changed hands, in 2014, it sold for $700 million. You could buy a lot of tallboys for that amount.