Say It Ain't So

Pabst Blue Ribbon could be out of business by next year so start stockpiling

November 13, 2018
Billboard Advertising Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer
Robert LandauBillboard Advertising Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer (Photo by Robert Landau/Corbis via Getty Images)

Boy the world just can't catch a break at the moment can it? As if the jubilee of cataclysms currently assailing the earth weren't enough, you turn to something simple like beer for comfort only to find that PBR—a cheap suds icon and certified hipster calling card—could be dead and gone by New Years. What else do you have for us universe? Does pizza cause cancer now?

On Monday morning, a Pabst-MillerCoors lawsuit opened in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. The plaintiff, Pabst Brewing Company, is suing current business partner MillerCoors, because MillerCoors—who currently brews and distributes the hallowed PBR elixir—does not intend to renew the brand's brewing contract, which expires in 2020. Ordinarily this wouldn't be grounds for a lawsuit, but PBR alleges that not only will they will be forced to liquidate without the partnership, but that they have evidence that MillerCoors is not re-upping the contract specifically to eliminate PBR as a dive bar beer competitor.

Now we love a good High Life and a cold Banquet as much as the next red-blooded American drinker, but the loss of PBR—and to a lesser extent, their affiliated brands Old Milwaukee, Natty Boh, and Lone Star—would leave a pretty sizable hole to fill in the Friday night bowling league landscape. If MillerCoors is really nixing their partnership with PBR to drive them into the grave, shame on them. But they are a massive, multi-national corporation and massive, multi-national corporations have been responsible for much worse—Terminators, Xenomorphs, Furbys—so I'm not sure why we're still surprised about this.

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The case will be adhjucated over the course of the next month, but we suggest you grab the nearest unlocked pickup truck and load up. If you don't crush all those tallboys by Christmas, something tells us they could be worth a whole lot more than $2 on the black beer market.

Tom Kelley Archive

A Pabst Spokesperson has issued the following statement:

*“Since 1844, Pabst has been offering authentic, great tasting and affordable beers to all Americans. From our flagship brand, Pabst Blue Ribbon, to our local legends, which include Rainier, Lone Star, Old Style, Stag, Stroh, Natty Boh, Olympia, and others – these iconic brands all have rich histories and deep roots in communities across the country. We are deeply disappointed that MillerCoors, the U.S. subsidiary of multinational brewing conglomerate Molson Coors, has willfully breached our 19-year agreement in an effort to stomp out the competition.

Even though MillerCoors’ market power is much larger than Pabst’s, we will not allow this industry bully to push us around. We are confident that the court will see MillerCoors’ fabricated “capacity” concerns for what they are: a thinly veiled, bad faith attempt to unlawfully hurt a competitor.”*

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