After decades as an iconic beer brand and a staple of tailgates, parties, holidays, and even hipster get-togethers, Pabst Blue Ribbon could be on its last leg.
From its peak in 1977 producing more than 18 million barrels to the sharp decline of the company that put it around 1 million barrels in 2001, PBR has fought for its life more than once…but this may be the end-all to the best-loved redneck beer in America.
The American-style lager and its rich history in our culture might just be a memory to look back on in just a few, short years. PBR, who once owned their own production and bottling facility in Milwaukee, now has to rely on another producer and their facilities to craft their brew.
While PBR isn’t at its all-time low level of one million barrels (thanks, in large part to hipsters fueling sales) is still nowhere near its peak of 18 million barrels. Today, the famous beer brand sits at roughly 4 million barrels – and is steadily growing. But it has to bank on a beer producer to keep growing – and there’s only one large enough to handle the demand.
“So, what’s the problem?” you might be asking. The problem, according to PBR is, simply put: sabotage.
MillerCoors LLC is the brewer, owner, and distributor of brands like Miller, Coors, Keystone, Blue Moon, and many others.
PBR alleges in their lawsuit that MillerCoors is attempting to put them out of business by denying them the brewing capacity and lying about their real abilities to produce enough barrels. PBR requires 4-4.5 million barrels annually to be produced by MillerCoors and, the company says, they are entirely dependent on MillerCoors as “it has no real alternatives” for production partners.
The deal, which was inked at PBR’s lowest point in 2001, is scheduled to end in 2020, but has stipulations for two five-year extensions but must be agreed upon by both parties.
MillerCoors states that they don’t have the means to continue producing the amount required by PBR and that, additionally, the smaller beer brand isn’t paying them enough to continue the agreement.
Pabst Blue Ribbon claims in court documents that MillerCoors is its only option and “is seeking more than $400 million in damages and for MillerCoors to be ordered to honor its contract.”
PBR also claims that their production partner acted in bad faith, claiming a 2013 consultant’s report that says MillerCoors had discussed getting rid of PBR from their facilities.
The trial for this court case is set to open on November 30th, 2018 – but this could spell the end for one of America’s most iconic beer brands.
If PBR goes i go.
— Jon Jon Heacock (@JonJonHeacock) November 13, 2018
So if you’re looking for an excuse to bring a case of PBR to Thanksgiving dinner, look no further than here – because you may never see PBR on shelves after 2020.