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The beloved beer brand has reached a last-minute agreement with MillerCoors to keep production alive.

Mike Pomranz
November 29, 2018

You likely saw the news stories the past couple weeks: Alarmist headlines saying that Pabst Blue Ribbon could be going out of business. Needless to say, "could" is an ambiguous word. PBR has been a successful beer brand since its revival over the past couple decades: Why would no one want to reap those financial benefits? All the hype didn’t quite add up, and in the end, PBR isn’t going anywhere — at least for the time being — and it didn’t even take a jury to decide the beer brand’s fate.

The dire predictions of PBR’s future had little to do with the beer brand itself; instead, it stemmed from how PBR is made. The company produces most of its beer under contract with MillerCoors, America’s second largest beer brand after Anheuser-Busch. Of course, MillerCoors is compensated for this work and everyone should probably be happy. But in 2016, MillerCoors decided it didn’t want to renew this contract when it expires in 2020 — a move PBR claimed ignored an option for extensions. Additionally, PBR said that MillerCoors explanation for wanting to ax the contract — that they didn’t have the capacity anymore — wasn’t the real reason. Instead, PBR openly pondered whether MillerCoors was trying to damage PBR’s business to reduce competition. As a result, PBR sued MillerCoors.

The court case has been ongoing for months, and this week, the jury has even been deliberating. But after all of that, the two sides told the judge yesterday that they had cut a last-minute deal. "The parties have amicably resolved all outstanding issues in the case," a PBR spokesperson said. "Pabst will continue to offer Pabst Blue Ribbon and the rest of our authentic, great tasting and affordable brews to all Americans for many, many years to come." The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but based on that statement, it appears that we have no fear of losing our precious PBR anytime soon.

But what about the future? Though we don’t know what the deal says, you have to wonder if, seeing the precariousness of its current position, whether PBR might look for a way to be more self-sufficient moving forward. The fate of PBR would be better served to be determined by beer drinkers than by a jury.

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