Pabst to close last brewery

Miller Brewing will make all Pabst brands

July 24, 2001 - Pabst Brewing Co. will soon be a "virtual brewer," marketing beer made by Miller Brewing Co.


The San Antonio-based company -- once part of the thriving brewing community based in Milwaukee, Wis. -- Monday notified 400 employees at its brewery near Allentown, Pa., that the facility will be closed by mid-September. Production will be moved to various Miller breweries that already make 80% of Pabst beers.

The move is another step in the consolidation of the American brewing industry. Pabst acquired the Lehigh Valley brewery in 1999, when it and Miller bought out the Stroh Brewery facilities and brands. As a result of the deal, Stroh facilities across the nation were closed, Miller acquired the Pabst facility in Tumwater, Wash., and Pabst cut back brewing to plants in San Antonio and Pennsylvania.

Miller then brewed about 80% of the brands Pabst owns -- including Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Milwaukee, Schlitz and Stroh's, plus many regional brands such as Lone Star, Pearl and National Bohemian.

Pabst sold 10.8 million barrels of beer in 2000, a 19.7% decline from 1999, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. This year, Pabst expects to sell around 10 million barrels, which would be another 7.4% decline.

Pabst announced ealier this year that it would close its 115-year-old San Antonio plant, the historic Pearl Brewery, putting the last 80 employees out of work. More than 400 Pabst employees in Pennsylvania will lose their jobs.

As a result, Miller expects to brew an additional 2.4 million barrels of beer yearly for Pabst - which will generate new revenue Miller, said spokesman Michael Brophy. He said the new production will go to Miller breweries in Trenton, Ohio; Eden, N.C., and Albany, Ga., but is not expected create any additional jobs. "We're pretty well staffed up already," Brophy said. "It's still a good business deal for us, because it is additional revenue."

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