Feature

Pabst: For sophisticated palates only

Pabst Blue Ribbon has undergone an image makeover for the Chinese market.

“Somewhere over the Pacific,” said Evan Osnos in NewYorker.com, “Pabst Blue Ribbon began putting on airs.” Sure, we think of PBR as a “reliably blue-collar lager,” and it has won many fans as “the cheapest beer on the grocery-store shelf.” But like so many expats, it has now undergone an image makeover for the Chinese market.

A clever Chinese distributor is marketing Pabst as “Blue Ribbon 1844,” a “world-famous spirit” best served in a Champagne flute. In China, the beer is being sold in an elegant brown-glass bottle—rather than the red, white, and blue can that Americans would recognize—for a whopping $44 a bottle. Sure that’s expensive, but as the ads point out, just like fine French brandy and Scotch whisky, Pabst is “matured in precious wooden casks.”

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