They say you can’t go home again, but apparently no one told the Pabst Brewing Company. Pabst plans to go back to brewing beer at the site of its original brewery in Milwaukee, which was shut down two decades ago, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
The brewery behind Pabst Blue Ribbon intends to open a microbrewery and tasting room in their former complex, a mixed-use development located in downtown Milwaukee. The complex’s main building was constructed in 1871 as a German Methodist church and acquired by Pabst in 1898.
Pabst has previously used the building as a bar and restaurant for its employees, as well as a training and conference center. “The fact that Pabst is coming back to brew at the original site, but in such a unique spot, is thrilling for me,” said Milwaukee restaurateur Mike Eitel, who will operate a restaurant and tavern in the building, one floor above Pabst’s ground-floor microbrewery and tasting room.
As per Eugene Kashper, Pabst’s chairman and CEO, the company plans to use their new brewery to experiment with recipes for discontinued, pre-Prohibition beer brands, including Kloster Beer, Old Tankard Ale and others. Pabst might also use the brewery to create some new brands, said Kashper. “But we will always try to tie that back to our roots.”
Pabst’s original Milwaukee brewery was shuttered in 1996 due to shrinking sales, but the company’s sales have swelled in recent years. Pabst moved 5.3 million barrels of beer last year, which was actually a 2.7 percent decline from their 2013 numbers, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights. Pabst Blue Ribbon makes up half of the brewer’s sales, while Pabst’s total sales in turn make up 2.5 percent of the US market. And PBR “has a strong presence in China” to boot, according to the Journal Sentinel.
But Pabst’s return to its original base of brewing operations, 20 years after skipping town, is the equivalent of the “prodigal son” coming home, said Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett at a news conference. “It’s very exciting for us to have this innovation laboratory, and to be back in our hometown,” said Kashper. “There’s so much loyalty and passion for the brand.”
Pabst plans to have its reborn brewery up and running by the summer of 2016. Read the Journal Sentinel’s full report here.