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Chicago gave Pabst its blue ribbon — and a tax break

 

A 1940s sign advertises Pabst Blue Ribbon over railyards at the site of today's Millennium Park, with the Carbon & Carbide Building rising to the upper left. (Photo by Jack Delano.)

A 1940s sign advertises Pabst Blue Ribbon over railyards at the site of today’s Millennium Park, with the Carbon & Carbide Building rising to the upper left. (Photo by Jack Delano.)

pabst-blue-ribbon

A historic local favorite, Pabst Blue Ribbon has had a resurgence of popularity in recent years. Chicago hipsters all know that if you want to drink cheap, you can’t do better than $1 PBR drafts served all night, every night, at Goldies in North Center.

What most people don’t know, though, is the beer’s connection to Chicagoland. Although it was founded in Wisconsin in 1844 and promotes itself as a Milwaukee brand, the Pabst Brewing Co. has been headquartered in Woodridge since 2006, when it relocated from Texas.

“It feels like home to us,” CEO Kevin Kotecki said at the time. “We are the third-largest brewery in Chicago, 10 percent of our business is done there and it continues to get larger every year.” Of course, nearly $1 million in state incentives probably helped.

The company doesn’t brew the beer here, but it no longer brews beer anywhere. Its beer-making is contracted to MillerCoors, which also moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago in 2008, although not its breweries.

Yet Pabst has had a Chicago presence since 1854, when founder Jacob Best’s son, Philip, opened a sales office downtown. (Frederick Pabst was Best’s son-in-law.)

More importantly, while Pabst beer bottles bore blue ribbons tied around their necks from 1882 to 1916, the company declares, “The brewery’s flagship beer was finally renamed Pabst Blue Ribbon following its win as ‘America’s Best’ at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago” in 1893.

If that doesn’t make it local, well, just consider that your tax dollars are paying for it.

Artist's rendition of the Pabst Casino at the World's Columbian Exposition.

Artist’s rendition of the Pabst Casino at the World’s Columbian Exposition.