The country’s biggest privately owned brewer of beer has tapped out of Los Angeles in favor of San Antonio. Pabst Brewing Co., owner of the iconic Pearl and Lone Star beer brands, recently moved its headquarters back to the Alamo City after a 14-year absence.
Pabst already had an office in downtown San Antonio’s Rand Building. Now, the company is adding to and remodeling its space there to accommodate corporate employees. Pabst called San Antonio home from 1996 to 2006. As of October 9, Pabst had 13 jobs openings in San Antonio.
In an interview with the CEO Insider podcast, Matt Bruhn, president and general manager of Pabst, cited “opportunity and creativity” as the two factors that prompted the company’s return to San Antonio.
On the opportunity front, Bruhn said San Antonio’s low cost of living and the presence of affordable housing in and around downtown appealed to Pabst. This means Pabst employees will be able to live inexpensively near the corporate headquarters and cultural amenities, he said.
“This is an unachievable dream in LA, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta,” Bruhn said.
As for creativity, Bruhn praised San Antonio for a vibrant arts, music, and food scene that is “not well amplified to the rest of the country.”
Pabst first set up its headquarters in San Antonio in 1996 after closing its brewery in Milwaukee. Lutz Issleib, who then was president of Pabst, lived in San Antonio and engineered the move here. Ten years later, Pabst shifted its headquarters to suburban Chicago, but several dozen employees remained in San Antonio. Pabst moved again, this time to LA, after a billionaire purchased the company in 2011. Now, Pabst has come back to San Antonio, and is shutting down its offices in LA and Chicago.
“On a national level, the city doesn’t have the reputation that it deserves to have,” Bruhn said of San Antonio, adding that the city is commonly perceived as a tourist destination dominated by SeaWorld, the Alamo, and the River Walk.
Blue Ribbon Intermediate Holdings LLC, a partnership between American beer entrepreneur Eugene Kashper and San Francisco-based investment firm TSG Consumer Partners LLC, bought Pabst in 2014 for a reported $700 million. Kashper is chairman of Pabst, which started in 1844 in Milwaukee.
Aside from Pearl and Lone Star, Pabst’s beer lineup includes Heileman’s Old Style, Olympia, Stag, Schlitz, Stroh’s and, of course, Pabst Blue Ribbon (aka PBR). PBR recently introduced a cannabis-infused seltzer and a “hard” cold brew coffee. In recent years, many of the company’s brands have gained a reputation as hipster favorites, particularly PBR.
Technically, Pabst doesn’t brew beer. Rather, it outsources the brewing. For instance, the Molson Coors brewery in Fort Worth produces Lone Star, while Lake Travis Brewing Co. near Austin produces Pearl (a San Antonio original). Lake Travis Brewing shares space with Oasis Texas Brewing Co., known for its craft beers.