Pabst Blue Ribbon
A brand that was once considered the uncool beer for fathers and grandfathers around the country has made a complete turnaround in popularity since early 2000 up to today where it’s become the go-to brand for the coolest of the cool. Pabst Blue Ribbon has one of the most recognizable logos in the beer world and their 16oz “Pounder” can is about as iconic as a beer container can get. There’s more to PBR than the cool factor and a recognizable can however, there’s a lot of history behind the beer and some pretty amazing projects in their future, too.
Pabst Blue Ribbon beer was originally brewed in 1844 under the name Pabst Select. It wasn’t until 1895 that the beer gained its quintessential name that we all know today, Pabst Blue Ribbon. Even though the PBR can is known far and wide, it wasn’t until 1935 that the first PBR was placed in a can.
Stepping back from PBR for a minute, the Pabst Brewery was founded by Jacob Best in Milwaukee, Wisconsin originally as the Empire Brewery. They produced 300 barrels of Best Select Lager in their first year. In 1860 Jacob’s son Phillip took over for his father and renamed the brewery Phillip Best Company and continues to produce the original beer.
Jump ahead to 1876 and the newly named Pabst’s Best Select Lager wins a gold medal at the Centennial Celebration, the first of many awards to be won in the future. The new president of the company, Frederick Pabst, decides that every bottle of Best Select Beer deserves its own blue ribbon to identify it as a first-place winner to everyone who tries the beer and since it’s 1882 this is done by hand around the neck of every bottle.
Following suit with his father-in law Phillip, Pabst changes the name of the brewery to honor whom else, but himself! With this renaming the Pabst Brewing Company we know today was truly born. By 1892 Pabst Brewing is using nearly 1 million feet of silk ribbon per year for their hand-tied bows that went on every bottle of Best Select. Jump ahead once again to 1898 and Best Select finally changes its name to the one we know and love today: Pabst Blue Ribbon because that’s what everyone called it for years before, anyway.
During Prohibition Pabst moved to the cheese market, selling cheese under the name Pabst-ett. Once Prohibition finally ended, Pabst sold their cheese business to Kraft and went back into the brewing business once again.
In 1950 the hand-tied silk ribbons finally went the way of the buffalo but can still be seen in the Blue Ribbon logo. It’s understandable that Pabst couldn’t keep up with the ribbon tying, since this year alone they produced 3.4 million barrels of beer.
Unlike many of the other large breweries today, Pabst doesn’t have a big advertising budget and relies solely on the quality of their beer and word of mouth to spread the word of PBR.
You won’t find scantily clad PBR girls handing out t-shirts and beer koozies, and you definitely won’t see any nationwide PBR television ads or hear any radio ads or commercials. Pabst does all their advertising thanks to the cool crowd of millenials in the 21-35 age group and their love of the brand. Whether it was the complete lack of advertising or the wrongly-perceived uncoolness of the brand that did it, PBR has become the hippest beer out there and is the go-to beer in dive bars, sports bars, concert venues, and sporting events. What’s most surprising however is that it’s still popular in many craft beer bars and is usually the only non-craft beer that’s drank without a second look in these quickly growing establishments.
PBR can be found today in containers ranging from the traditional draft to 12,16, 24, and even 32-ounce cans as well as 12,22,32, and 40-ounce bottles.
Recent awards for PBR include a gold medal at the 2005, 2006, and 2012 Great American Beer Festival for American-Style Lager and a gold medal for the 2013 Los Angeles International Beer Competition for American Style Lager.
PBR is brewed with a combination of 2 and 6-row malted barley along with select cereal grains. Pabst uses both American and European hops to provide a beer with a clean, crisp finish and an excellent noble hop aroma. PBR is golden-straw in golor and has a balance of hop and malt character that keeps it from being too bitter while featuring the delicate noble hop aroma.
The PBR Art Program
Pabst Blue Ribbon is starting something new for their 16oz Pounder can in 2014, and it’s all about you, as long as you’re a decent artist. Art and PBR aren’t new bedfellows but this year they are focusing on a new project, titled the PBRART can. Instead of the traditional PBR artwork on these perfectly sized cans, artists can submit their work to be included on the can in and around the original PBR logo.
Artists from around the country are encouraged to submit their own works to be considered for placement on the historical can. There will be art events all around the country where artists can get blank 160z art “can-vases” to use in their design work.
The first PBRART can features artist Josh Holland and can be found wherever PBR Pounder cans are sold.
Pabst Blue Ribbon can be found throughout Pittsburgh and is proudly distributed by Galli Wholesale.