A couple of nights ago I stopped by Cloutier’s quick stop market in New Gloucester’s Upper Village to pick up a couple 24 ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon tall silos. Regular readers of this blog may recall an earlier posting [“Living in the Past - Retro Beers,” August 13, 2010] in which I designated PBR as “my official ‘Beer of Summer.’” To the chagrin of many, including my own son, I have always liked PBR, the “American Style Premium Lager,” long before it became hip and cool in more recent years. I cut my beer drinking teeth on the stuff so many decades ago when both PBR and I both resided in Milwaukee. And I have been drinking it ever since, even after both of us had departed the Cream City for warmer climes. PBR and I go way back!
Yet something strange happened when I stopped to buy beer the other night. I had already taken two PBR tall silos out of the beer cave when I suddenly returned them and retrieved another brand. I am not really sure why, but I did. The next day I read for the first time that Oasis Beverages, Russia’s largest “independent” international beverage producer, had announced the previous day that it had acquired Pabst Brewing Company from its Los-Angeles based owner for a reported $750 million dollars. Although the exact details of the purchase have not yet been revealed, the previous owner in LA is making a nice half billion dollar profit on a four year investment. Included in the deal, along with PBR, are other well-known American brands - Lone Star, Schiltz, Old Milwaukee, Blatz, Rainier, Olympia, Old Style, Strohs, and Colt 45. Christ, even Natty Bo and Schmidt’s are part of the deal! Isn’t capitalism grand? So perhaps it was kismet that I put those PBR tall silos back in the beer cave. There was a change in the Force.
In announcing the purchase, the chairman of Oasis Beverages called PBR “the quintessential American brand — it represents individualism, egalitarianism and freedom of expression — all the things that make this country [the USA] great.” He added that “the opportunity to work with the company’s treasure trove of iconic brands . . . is a dream come true.” Too bad there is so little individualism, egalitarianism and freedom of expression left in Putin’s Russia. That dream died as he guides Russia back to one-man rule and its old expansionist ways. Just ask the good people of Ukraine and the Crimea.
Oasis Beverages was founded in Russia in 2008, and it operates six breweries and soft drink plants there, as well as in Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, and throughout Eastern Europe. The company produces several of its own brands of beers, juice and an energy drink, and it imports brands into Russia, including Heineken, Chimay and Perrier. Oasis has promised that production will remain in Los Angeles. “It will be an honor to work with Pabst’s dedicated employees and partner distributors as we continue to build the business.” Maybe so, but PBR and the others included in the deal are no longer American beers in my book no matter how you look at them. Even if they are brewed in the USA, buy one of them and the profits eventually go to Putin’s gang in Moscow. I seldom if ever drink most of these beers, but I have been a faithful drinker of PBR over four decades . . . even when it moved out of Milwaukee . . . and believe me, that was bad enough.
Sorry to say but I will not drink another drop of this tainted brew. Perhaps there is a silver lining in this dark cloud, however. At least my son will no longer look at me with disappointment in his eye while questioning my taste in beer.
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