Pabst Brewing Co.
The Pabst Brewing Company dates its origins to a brewing company founded in 1844 by Jacob Best and by 1889 named after Frederick Pabst. It is currently the holding company contracting for the brewing of over two dozen brands of beer and malt liquor from defunct companies including Pabst Brewery brands, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, G. Heileman Brewing Company, Lone Star Brewing Company, Pearl Brewing Company, Piels Bros., National Brewing Company, Olympia Brewing Company, Falstaff Brewing Corporation, Primo Brewing & Malting Company, Rainier Brewing Company, F & M Schaefer Brewing Company, Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company and Stroh Brewery Company.
The original brewery was founded in 1844 as The Empire Brewery, later Best and Company, by brewer Jacob Best. The brewery was run by Jacob, Sr. and his sons Phillip, Charles, Jacob, Jr., and Lorenz; Phillip took control of the company in 1860. They started the brewery on Chestnut Street Hill in Milwaukee with a capacity of 18 barrels (2.9 m3). Later, in 1863, Frederick Pabst, a steamship captain and son-in-law of Phillip Best, bought 50% of Phillip Best Brewing assuming the role of Vice President, by which time the brewery was already selling a lager that they began bottling in 1875 under the name Best Select. By 1874 Phillip Best Brewing Co. was the nation’s largest brewer. In 1866, Best’s other daughter Lisette married Emil Schandein, and Best sold the remaining half of the business to her husband, making Frederick Pabst president, and her husband vice-president. Schandein unexpectedly died in Germany and Lisette Schandein took over as vice-president of the company which she remained until 1894.
Pabst Brewing Company announced November 13, 2014 that it had completed its sale to Blue Ribbon Intermediate Holdings, LLC. Blue Ribbon is a partnership between American beer entrepreneur Eugene Kashper and TSG Consumer Partners, a San Francisco–based private equity firm. Prior reports suggested the price agreed upon was around $700 million. In July 2015, Pabst announced plans to return to Milwaukee and build a small brewery on the site of the original Pabst Brewing “complex.” The company plans to spend between $3 million – $4 million to redevelop an old German Methodist church, turning it into an “innovation brewery.” The new location will craft small-batch brews and focus on the production of new craft beers.
In 1996, Pabst’s entire beer production was contracted out to the Stroh Brewery Company, which utilized excess capacity at the former flagship brewery of the G. Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin it had absorbed earlier that year. In turn, the historic Pabst brewery in Milwaukee was closed, ending a 152-year association with the city and turning that company into a virtual brewer. In 1999, Pabst purchased the Stroh label, and the brewery in La Crosse was sold to City Brewing Company. In 2001, production was contracted to Miller Brewing Company, and by then what remained of the Pabst company operated out of San Antonio.
After the Pabst Brewery closed in Milwaukee in December 1996, it sat empty until 2001. It was at that time that Jim Haertel received his accepted offer to purchase the Pabst Brewery on September 11, 2001. Great care has been taken to ensure that Blue Ribbon Hall, The Great Hall, Captain’s Courtyard, Guest Center, King’s Courtyard, and the original Gift Shop have all been restored to their original glory.