PBR’s 1844 sells for $44 per bottle in China

Posted on July 26, 2010 in Beers, Breweries, Business, Culture by Josh

PBR 1844

PBR 1844 (Dan Wei)

This post at Foreign Policy Magazine pointed me to a note about PBR’s premium status in China. It’s not your standard hipster PBR (which has a reputation I absolutely can’t understand), but a high-gravity ale called 1844.

Wei writes:

The above advertisement appears on the inside front cover of the current issue of Window of the South (南风窗), a respected biweekly business magazine. At first glance it looks like an ad for a wine or a brandy, but closer inspection reveals the actual brand: Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer 1844.

1844 was the year that the Pabst Brewing Company was established in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the US, the beer’s lack of pretension led to a recent upswing in popularity among hipsters.

He links to an excerpt from an interview with Alan Kornhauser, Pabst Brewmaster-Asia, given to All About Beer magazine:

I still like formulating specialty beers. In fact, with Pabst, I just made the first specialty beer in Mainland China. There’s almost no ale in China: I had to smuggle the yeast into the country. I formulated a special high-gravity ale called “1844.” It’s all malt, and we use caramel malts from Germany. The initial aging is dry-hopped rather heavily. Then we do a secondary aging in new uncharred American oak whiskey barrels. We bought 750 brand new barrels to the tune of $100,000. This is a very special beer; it’s retailing for about over $40 U.S. for a 720 ml bottle.

Fascinating stuff.  I haven’t seen, nor have I even heard of, 1844 in the U.S., but if I could find a bottle, I’d absolutely buy it.  It reminds me a little of what Michelob has been trying to do — take a long-time cheap beer, and spin it off into a new direction.

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