39 Pabst



Brewed in Milwaukee Wisconsin, Pabst brewery has been brewing since 1848. They are an all American company that started when Jacob Best decided that he wanted to start brewing beer. Pabst brewing company owns a few other beer brands as well.  Some well known ones are; Old Milwaukee, Colt 45, Malt liquor. The company also owns Tsingtao and that is one of China’s favourite beers. There is also a theory about Pabst being the first to package their beer in packages of six, otherwise known as the six-pack. This practice was allegedly copied by other companies as a six pack was the ideal weight for a housewife to carry home, and it also fit better into a paper bag.



Pabst Blue ribbon started in 1848 when Jacob Best Sr and his brother Charles Best came over from Germany and began a vinegar works company.  Then they decided to start a brewery instead of keeping up with their vinegar shop. Originally they called the company Bests Brewery, and his four sons Jacob Jr., Charles, Phillip and Lorenz worked for him. The brewery produced 300 barrels in the first year of production, 1848-49, which is good production for that time period. In 1850, Phillip and Jacob took over the brewery. Phillip’s daughter married Captain Pabst around the same time that he took over the brewery.  Captain Pabst then took a partnership in the brewery. By the time 1870 came around the output of beer was around 100,000 barrels, this made Bests Brewing company the second largest brewing company in the United States. Bests brewery won an award at a U.S competition in 1880’s. As a result of winning this award, they added a piece of blue ribbon to the tops of their bottles and in 1889 they changed the brewing company name to Pabst brewing. By 1948 Pabst owned three other brewing companies and sales were great.  However, when Fred Pabst (Captain Pabst) decided to retire around the 1950’s sales bagan to dip.  It was at this time they decided to lower the cost of the beer and made it known as “The premium beer at a popular price.”


Key Milestones

1880- Winning an award

1889- Changed the breweries name to Pabst brewery

1899- Pabst made the label by adding a blue ribbon and a red stripe across the label as well as making the name Pabst Blue Ribbon

Pabst also made cheese however Kraft bought out pabst

Early 1950s- Pabst sales were through the roof

2010- The Metropoulos family acquired Pabst from the Kalmanowitz Charitable trust

Current: Pabst started a partnership with Brown Forman for distribution of Jack Daniels country cocktails




Different brews:

  • Beer Original, extra, easy and non-alcoholic
    • Original; comes in a 355ml can and a 709.7ml 4.8%ABV
    • Extra; Comes in 355ml can and is 6.5%ABV
    • Easy; Comes in a 355ml can and is 3.8%ABV
    • Non-Alcoholic comes in a 355ml can
  • Not beer- Hard coffee, Stronger seltzer Lime, Stronger seltzer Wild Berry, Hard tea
    • Hard coffee; Made with creamy milk and vanilla flavour with 5%ABV
    • Stronger seltzer Lime; Low sugar, big flavour, 8%ABV
    • Stronger seltzer Wild Berry; Low sugar, big flavour, 8%ABV
    • Hard tea; Bubbly, 100 calories, 4%ABV
  • Whiskey- 40%, 730ml


Brewing science/Industrialization

In the year 1765 beer manufacturing and production changed drastically due to steam engines. The steam engine helped in the brewing process, it created a constant temperature in the cylinders. This increased savings by around 75% on coal usage. 1777, Messrs Cook & Co at Stratford-le-Bow was one of the first breweries to install a steam engine, before installing this they used horses to work their grist mill. During the international revolution, life had improved greatly for beer drinkers. Breweries started using a hydrometer and thermometer helped brewers more accurately. Fast forward to 1933 the prohibition was over and the beer industry was beginning to  see many changes. TVs, radio, and print advertisements were becoming more popular. There was an increase in consumerism due to all the advertisements. In the early 1950’s beer advertisements started to really take off.


42 Vintage Food Ads That We Can't Believe Are Real

Beer Styles12 Facts About Pabst Blue Ribbon

Pabst is a vegan friendly beer, made from malted barley, filtered water, special corn syrup, cultured yeast and spicy hops. In addition to these ingredients Pabst contains carbohydrates, such as; rice and some added sugars(maltose and dextrose) this is an added favour for the American light drinkers.


WW1 & WW2 Era

In the first 70 years of Pabst brewery seemed to be unstoppable some would say. In the 1870’s it had already become the second largest brewery in America. However, it all came crashing down in 1920 when prohibition went into effect and all alcohol was banned nationwide. Pabst had several other side businesses during this period. Some of these businesses included selling malt syrup and soft drinks, and renting out factory space to Harley Davidson. None of these side businesses were as successful as it’s cheese making factory. The cheese business sold more than 8 million pounds of cheese spreads.

The Untold Truth Of Pabst Blue Ribbon


Pabst Brewing Company: Pabst Mansion: Milwaukee, WI. Pabst Mansion. (2021, June 8). Retrieved February 6, 2022, from https://www.pabstmansion.com/history/pabst-brewing-co/

Products. Pabst Blue Ribbon. (2020, December 2). Retrieved February 6, 2022, from https://pabstblueribbon.com/product/

History. Pabst. (n.d.). Retrieved February 6, 2022, from https://pabst.com/history/

Advertising and beer: An everchanging science. NoCoast Beer Co. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2022, from https://www.nocoastbeer.co/blogs/blog/beer-advertising

Renegade Brewing, Tosh, & tate, R. (2021, April 17). Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) beer: Everything you need to know. Renegade Brewing. Retrieved March 12, 2022, from https://renegadebrewing.com/pbr-beer/

Sheldon, A. (2021, November 19). The untold truth of pabst blue ribbon. Mashed.com. Retrieved March 12, 2022, from https://www.mashed.com/206343/the-untold-truth-of-pabst-blue-ribbon/


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Beer Through the Ages Copyright © by Jordanne Christie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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