Say goodbye to Pabst Blue Ribbon’s status as our nation’s most iconic cheap beer. For the past 170 years, Pabst Blue Ribbon has been a staple in the diets of American college students, starving artists, and broke drunks. And it’s likely to maintain that status for years to come—but it will now be in the hands of Russians.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a deal is currently in the works for Pabst Brewing Co.—which also owns other thrifty corner-store mainstays such as Colt 45, Schlitz, and Old Milwaukee—to be purchased by Russian-based beverage company Oasis, in a partnership with private-equity firm TSG Consumer Partners LLC. The company is valued at between $700 million and $750 million, which is enough to buy you more than 80 million 12-packs of Blue Ribbon if you were to hit the nearest BevMo. (Never trust a 12-pack of Pabst that costs more than $10.)
Oasis is an international beer and soft drink company with posts in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, and it already holds the import and distribution rights to several of your favorite beers in Eastern Europe and Russia—including Heineken, Chimay (no longer solely in the hands of those crafty Belgian monks), and a peculiar Czech version of Budweiser called Budvar. Their deck also contains some classier European favorites such as Orangina and Perrier, which are adorable to visualize nestled against a 40-ounce of Colt 45, forming the equivalent of the United Nations of Beverages.
Interestingly, the deal has been announced just a month after Russia placed a year-long ban on imports of meat, fish, produce, and dairy products from the US, European Union, Australia, Canada, and Norway, a retaliation against President Obama’s tightened sanctions, which were themselves a retaliation for Russia’s support of the separatist insurgents raising hell in Ukraine. Can’t we all just get along and enjoy some watery, culturally loaded, ever-cheap beer together?
It is unclear how or whether the deal will be at all affected by the ban, but Pabst Blue Ribbon has been proven an effective and cost-efficient product for drinking your way through cold, hard winters, as Midwesterners have demonstrated for nearly two centuries. Founded in Milwaukee in 1844, Pabst is 170 years old—mindblowing if consider that then-President John Tyler could have been drinking the stuff, and that it predates the abolition of slavery by about 20 years. (Maybe PBR tired of us, and not the other way around.) Blue Ribbon claims to have been awarded America’s Best Beer in 1893, though the historical validity of this claim has been controversial over the years. Will it be able to maintain this title, or should we henceforth revere it as Russia’s Best-Worst Formerly American Beer?
This actually isn’t the first time the Pabst empire has been salivated over; in 2010, two advertising executives intent on buying the company raised more than $200 million through Internet crowdsourcing until the US Securities and Exchange Commission butted in and shut them down for not registering their securities. It was purchased for $250 million the following year by billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos, who has probably never guzzled a paper-bagged Schlitz in an alley in his life.
The biggest conflict of the pending handoff will be that Pabst Blue Ribbon and Heineken will now have to share a parent company despite their historical tiff, which was best memorialized by Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Oasis owns several beer brands, including Heineken and Chimay. In fact, Oasis owns import and distribution rights for those brands in certain territories. The article has been updated to reflect that.