It’s probably an understatement to say that Wisconsin is known for its beer. Some of the nation’s most well-known brews are products of Wisconsin, and the microbrewing scene is exploding in popularity.
But arguably Wisconsin’s most iconic beer of all time -- Pabst Blue Ribbon, also known as PBR -- has for years been unable to call the state home. Brewing operations left the city in 1985 and eventually, the corporate office closed in 1996.
When recent reports suggested that the current owners of PBR, now based in California, might be looking to sell the company, one Milwaukee group stepped up to volunteer a solution: Bring the brand back home.
Nichali Ciaccio and Erika Wolf are organizers of the Bring PBR Home movement. He said the group would like to see Milwaukee buy the Pabst Brewing Co. and adopt a community ownership model similar to that of the Green Bay Packers.
“It’s a new kind of novel idea -- large scale community ownership -- but it’s also a very exciting idea,” Ciaccio said.
After Bring PBR Home made its intentions known, Ciaccio said the effort quickly gained momentum online and through social media. Wolf added that the grassroots nature by which this effort is undertaken also speaks to the democratic style that would govern the corporation’s business practices if it were to return to Milwaukee.
“We really see this, in addition to being about public ownership and about benefiting the common good, this is also about corporate responsibility,” Wolf said. “We really are interested in making sure that Pabst is a company that has ethics and corporate responsibility. We’re talking about living-wage jobs, we’re talking about union brewery jobs.”
While many people have a nostalgic attachment to the Pabst brand, Ciaccio said people to move a step beyond that and re-think the nature of ownership.
“That’s where real meaning exists,” said Ciaccio.