Beer

5 things you didn't know about Pabst Blue Ribbon

There's a long history behind Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

There's a long history behind Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.  (iStock)

Pabst Blue Ribbon has been around since 1890 and it's still going strong. Every so often, it seems to get rediscovered by a new generation, and it’s currently the beer of choice among hipsters, a coveted market we’re sure Bud wouldn’t mind breaking into.

It’s always good to know a little something about the beer you’re drinking, so here are five interesting facts about PBR.

It Was Originally Named ‘Best’

German immigrant Frederick Pabst married Maria Best in 1862, and began working at Maria’s father’s brewery, the Best Brewing Company. When Best died in 1889, longtime employee Frederick took over and renamed the brewery after himself.

The “Blue Ribbon” Tag Dates from 1893

As legend has it, Pabst took the crown of America’s best beer during the 1983 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, but that title is dubious at best. Reports from the time indicate that only bronze medals were handed out to a handful of vendors at the fair, but the beer had racked up so many awards by then that owner Frederick Pabst began tying ribbons around every bottle as a marketing ploy anyway. It worked.

The ‘80s and ‘90s Were Really Rough

PBR sales peaked in 1977, with 18 million barrels sold, but it was all downhill from there. Sales bottomed out at under 1 million barrels in 2001, before beginning to pick up again.

It Targets Hipsters in the Most Cliché Ways Possible

Marketing tactics have included sponsoring indie music festivals, post-collegiate sports teams, and facial hair clubs. It advertises in dive bars and on NPR’s All Things Considered, and it posts fan art on its Facebook page. Ugh.

It Contains 4.74 Percent Alcohol by Volume

A 12-ounce can contains 12.8 grams of carbohydrates and 144 calories. For comparison’s sake, a can of Bud is 5 percent alcohol and contains 11 grams of carbohydrates and 145 calories.