We Got Drinks with Joe Pabst

Here’s what it’s like to have the name ‘Pabst’ while living in Milwaukee.

The local philanthropist, and occasional headline-maker (most notably, when he gifted the Milwaukee Art Museum with Eggs Benedict, a portrait of the then-pope, rendered in condoms) joined me for a glass of wine at The Phoenix Cocktail Club.

CN: You recently revised your support of local non-profits.
JP: I needed to focus. So I came up with a plan wherein all the organizations were alerted, and systematically, from 2014 to 2015 to 2016, my yearly grants were cut 50 percent. It allowed me, in 2017, to really reimagine the way in which I want to move forward.

What is your current focus?
I’m still passionately concerned about issues surrounding domestic violence and bullying. Those are topics that have touched me very closely. And animal welfare. I have found great comfort in my pets.

Me too. I have two cats, Bunny and Skwirl. They were born feral in Queens, N.Y.
I have a Welsh corgi and a long-haired dachshund.

A corgi like the queen of England!
Yes, and her late sister, Princess Margaret, had dachshunds.

Interesting. I’m from an ordinary family, but I would imagine that being a Pabst is a heavy mantle to carry.
At times. The difficulty is wanting to make your own mark and not be a product of a brand.

And especially in this town, where that name means so much.
I wanted to live and give back at the name’s source. There’s a great amount of sweat that went into my eventual ability to give back. The labor of others. I think it’s best to return that to the community that made it possible.

Isn’t it funny that Pabst beer is a hipster favorite?
It’s great, but I wish we still owned part of it!

‘Drinks with Joe Pabst’ appears in the March 2017 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning February 27, or buy a copy online.

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Editor-in-chief Carole Nicksin has worked in publishing for over 20 years. Prior to joining the staff of Milwaukee Magazine, she was the style director at All You, a Time Inc. publication. She also served as decorating editor at Home magazine. Carole has written for the New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, InStyle and numerous other publications.