Photo: Jeremy Brooks, Flickr
Like countless coming-of-legal-age drinkers before me, I cut my teeth on Pabst Blue Ribbon. PBR was the perfect beer -- if you cared less about flavor than cost, a principle that rules many boozing decisions when you're young. And though I'm loathe to admit it now, I also bought into the brand's blue-collar appeal: I saw PBR as a rebuttal to Bud, Coors and their watery, domestic ilk. Ahh, misguided youth.
Truth is, no matter how many kooky bike races or arm-wrestling competitions that PBR sponsored, it was always a big dog masquerading as an underdog. (Its 2.7 percent market share is nearly three times as big as America's largest craft brewer, Sam Adams.) And it may get even bigger.
The brand, which also includes Schlitz, Colt 45, Lone Star and Old Style, was just sold for $250 million to businessman C. Dean Metropoulos. He no doubt hopes to make PBR as much a household name as Chef Boyardee or Vlasic Pickles -- other homogeneous foodstuffs he's built into billion-dollar powerhouses.
Good luck with Pabst. While supermarket ubiquity and spiffy advertising campaigns have spelled success for the processed pasta and pickles, Pabst faces a tougher climb. With craft beer gathering steam, nostalgia and low price points will only go so far in brand growth. But Mr. Metropoulos, here's one suggestion for success: I'll purchase PBR again if you'll make it taste good.