Pearl Brewery to close

Pabst will contract production to Miller Brewing in Fort Worth

Apr 22, 2000 - The Pabst Brewing Co. has decided to close the historic Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, Texas, transferring production of beer made there to Miller Brewing Co. in Fort Worth.


Officials told the San Antonio Express-News they will lay off 161 workers in June and close the 114-year-old plant. "It's just too costly to keep it open," Pabst Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Bitting told the newspaper. "A lot of it is old and inefficient." He said it would have taken $8 million to $10 million to modernize the brewery.

Miller now brews about 75% of the 11 million barrels of Pabst-owned beer sold each year, Bitting said. That figure will approach 80% when the Pearl Brewery closes.

The San Antonio brewery makes Pearl, Lone Star, Pabst, Schlitz, Old Milwaukee, Colt 45 malt liquor and other beer brands Pabst has acquired over the years. After closing the Pearl Brewery, Pabst will operate only one brewery, the Lehigh Valley facility in Pennsylvania it acquired when Stroh Brewery left the brewing business last year.

Bitting indicated that more than 100 Pabst white-collar employees at the corporate office in San Antonio will keep their jobs. However, that hardly softens the loss of 161 jobs for the community, and means little to those actually losing those jobs. In 1990, the Teamsters took a $4 an hour pay cut to help keep the brewery running.

In a way, the city is losing two breweries. Production of Lone Star beer, brewed in San Antonio from 1940 to 1996 when Stroh closed the brewery, returned to San Antonio when Pabst bought Stroh. Advertised as "Certified brewed in San Antonio," its sales jumped 17%. Now Lone Star will be made in Forth Worth.

The San Antonio Express-News offers more about the impact of the closing and a look at the historic brewery founded in 1886.

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