Birth of an Empire

German immigrant Jacob Best and his sons establish the Empire Brewery in Milwaukee, WI and produce 300 barrels of Best Select lager in their first year. Presumably they celebrate with a pint.

Birth of an Empire


100,000 Barrels of Beer

Phillip Best Company produces 100,000 barrels, becoming the second largest brewery in the US. Captain Pabst takes over as President of the company.


The First Gold Medal

Pabst's Best Select lager wins a gold medal at the Centennial Celebration, marking the first of many awards the beer will win throughout its 150+ year lifespan.


A Blue Ribbon on Every Bottle

Having earned awards at US and international competitions, Pabst begins hand-tying a blue silk ribbon around the neck of each Best Select beer to identify it as a first-place winner. You know, because it was.


One Million Feet of Silk

As production rises, so does the demand for blue silk ribbon. The company purchases nearly 1 million feet of silk ribbon per year, which workers tie by hand around each bottle of Best Select.


America’s Best Beer

Pabst is awarded the blue ribbon at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, beating out many other popular American brewers. And not surprisingly, some unpopular ones.


A New Name for the Classic Beer

The beer’s name is officially changed to Pabst Blue Ribbon, and the brewery produces one million barrels. Pabst begins exporting heavily to New York, even opening his own hotels, theatres and restaurants that, oddly enough, do not serve rival Schlitz beer.


Back to Brewing

When Prohibition ends, Pabst sells their cheese operations to Kraft and gets back to the good stuff—brewing Pabst Blue Ribbon and tying iconic blue silk ribbons around them. The beer is as popular as it was before Prohibition. (And likely during.)

Back to Brewing


Pabst on the Radio

Radio becomes a popular advertising medium for Pabst, with several Hollywood celebrities, including Danny Kaye and Eddie Cantor, promoting Pabst Blue Ribbon on their radio programs. Oddly, they’re never seen drinking the beer.


Westward, Ho

Pabst expands to the west with the purchase of the Los Angeles Brewing Company. With breweries now located throughout the entire country, Pabst is truly a national brand.


Pabst on the Boob Tube

Pabst embraces television early on, sponsoring live sporting events like boxing and baseball, and producing commercials featuring two singing blue ribbons. Which aren’t at all creepy.


No More Blue Silk Ribbons

The blue ribbon is officially removed from around the necks of Pabst Blue Ribbon bottles, but earns a permanent spot on the label. Production soars to 3.4 million barrels, making Pabst one of the nation’s top five brewing companies.


A Time For Fun


100 Millionth Barrel

Pabst celebrates its 100 millionth barrel with an elaborate ceremony featuring a golden barrel, a plane trip for 60 to Jacob Best’s hometown in Germany, and a modicum of fanfare.


Millions of Barrels of Beer

Pabst celebrates its 100 millionth barrel with an elaborate ceremony featuring a golden barrel, a plane trip for 60 to Jacob Best’s hometown in Germany, and a modicum of fanfare.


Pabst: The People's Beer


Johnny Russell

Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is immortalized in a song by country singer Johnny Russell, whose “Rednecks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer” becomes a top-five hit. And should still be considered a classic.


An All-Time High

Pabst sells 18 million barrels, the company’s all-time record. Awesome.


Ripe for the Picking

Pabst’s debt-free balance sheet attracts corporate raiders like Irwin “The Liquidator” Jacobs. The company spends $11 million in legal fees fighting the hostile takeover. The media speculates Jacobs has a PBR fetish.

Ripe for the Picking


The Awards Pour In

Unsurprisingly to anyone who’s ever taken a sip of PBR, the beer wins awards at the Great American Beer Festival 14 of these 20 years. And it’s pretty clear the judging was fixed the other years.


The Comeback

Overall sales make an unexpected upswing this year, as much as 5.3%. The unlikely source of new interest in PBR? Bike messengers, millennials, and other young people who see the beer’s scarcity and lack of advertising as a personal challenge. They seek it out, embrace it, and make it their own.

The Comeback


A New Area

The Metropoulos family acquires Pabst, making a commitment to authenticity, revitalization, and innovation.


PBR Today

Even without traditional advertising, Pabst Blue Ribbon continues to be one of the fastest-growing consumer brands in the country, embraced by a wide cross-section of the population. Including South Park fans.

PBR Today