Milwaukee beer staple, Pabst Brewing Co., is up for sale, and Pabst fans are rallying to bring the brewery back to Brew City.
Reuters recently announced C. Dean Metropoulos is selling Pabst Brewing Co., and the brewery is expected to bring between $500 million and $1 billion. But a group of Milwaukeeans has a very specific idea for who should buy the brewery: someone who will bring it back to Milwaukee.
Nichali Ciaccio, manager of the Riverwest Co-op, launched the Facebook page Milwaukee Should Own Pabst Blue Ribbon on March 5. The page is at 1,861 fans and climbing. “We want to bring PBR home, and we want it to stay here where it belongs, permanently,” Facebook page co-administrator Susie Seidelman says. “Milwaukee is a huge part of the brand’s marketing – we’re all over the packaging, website and promotional materials, lending a notion of authenticity to the brand. We made this beer what it is.”
With Milwaukee’s history of municipally owned services, such as the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and Milwaukee Water Works, Seidelman says the bones are already in place and the City of Milwaukee is well suited to make such a purchasing decision. The group thinks an ownership structure similar to the Green Bay Packers (one owner, several investors) would be the best way to go.
The idea is in a “pipedream stage” right now, but the group believes with city, community and investor support, it could become reality. Co-owner of Best Place, part of the original Pabst Brewing Co. headquarters, Jim Haertel, likes the idea and welcomes brainstorming meetings to be held at Best Place. “We love the hipsters and the dreamers, but we need people with the resources to bring the idea to this magnitude,” Haertel says. The former Pabst executive suites are being turned into a beer, bed and breakfast, but he says he’d be happy to change plans to re-open it back for executive use.” The headquarters belong in Milwaukee,” says Haertel. “What better place than its original home?”
The Facebook page has garnered interested followers across the city and even the country. “We’ve been contacted by members of the Pabst family who want to help, which I think is just incredible,” says Seidelman. “People understand the significance of this move and what it could mean for our city.”
It’s true. Captain Frederick Pabst’s great great granddaughter, Bridget Byrnes, now lives in Montana and works as a web designer. Byrnes heard about the Facebook group and immediately wanted to get involved. She’s excited about the initiative and is already pitching in, building up the website bringPBRhome.com. “It would be great to have it ran by the actual drinkers of the beer,” Byrnes says. “I really think that if my grandfather, his father and grandfather, Frederick, had any idea that the brewery was closed and the headquarters are now in LA, they’d be doing back flips in their graves.”
An open letter to Pabst Brewing Co.’s current ownerwill be housed on the website. The letter will ask Metropoulos to give Milwaukee the first crack at purchasing the company. Those interested in signing and getting involved can visit bringPBRhome.com (the site will be fully launched within the next week or so.)
Like the Facebook group posted, “Spread the love and share the suds, y’all.”