When I asked for an Old Tankard Ale by Pabst, my server brought me a PBR, unaware that Old Tankard was a new Pabst product, recreated from decades-old brewing logs of the brewery. But, yes, I wanted to try an Old Tankard, and she replaced it.
Pabst Brewing Company's Old Tankard Ale was America’s number two selling American Ale behind another PBC legacy brand, Ballantine, throughout the 1930s, 40s, and 1950s. Utilizing the original Brewer’s Log recipe from 1937, this historic American Ale [...] is brewed with 2-row, imported Cara-Munich and Cara-Aroma malts, with Nugget, Liberty, Willamette and Cascade hops. [It] exhibits the fruitiness and maltiness of an extra special bitter.
- ABV: 5.8%
- IBU: 35
- SRM: 20
Pabst ceased all brewing operations in the mid-1990s. It owns no brewing plants, only the rights to the names of Pabst and other American 'legacy' brands, such as National Bohemian and Schlitz. Other breweries — principally MillerCoors— brew its beers for it under contract. In 2014, the company was purchased by a San Francisco–based private equity firm.
After test runs at the Wisconsin Brewing Company, cans of Old Tankard are now brewed and packaged for Pabst by City Brewing Company (formerly G. Heilemann Brewing) in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
The text on the back of the can:
Craft beer in cans isn't a new idea. In fact, it's over 80 years old. 1935 was the first year beer was ever packaged in cans and the year Pabst introduced Old Tankard Ale in its proprietary KEGLINED (tm) Tap-a-can to retain freshness.
1. Open can.
2. Pour into tankard.
3. Hoist with friends.
As found on the original Old Tankard Ale cans:
Here is genuine ale in a non-refillable, brewery-sealed container which protects against the harmful effects of light-tampering -anything or anybody. Now you can enjoy the tang, aroma, vigor, and rich mellow flavor of real ale.
And the taste of Old Tankard Ale?
Actually, not too shabby. The brewery bills the beer as an ESB; I'd call it an American Amber Ale. Reddish/light brown in color; nice head retention; whiffs of caramel and woodsy hops; apple fruitiness; slight acrid roast (not enough to be off-putting); off-dry finish.
Who could blame my server for bringing me the wrong beer? A beer from Pabst with some flavor? Who would've thunk it? I'd happily drink this again.
- Even though all of its beers are contract-brewed, Pabst sold over 6 million barrels of beer in 2015, making it the third largest brewery in the U.S., after Anheuser-Busch Inbev and SAB Miller, at numbers one and two, respectively. In 2015, ABIB produced 389.7 million barrels worldwide (100.68 barrels just in the U.S.); SABMiller, 160 million barrels, worldwide. The largest 'craft' brewery in 2015 (i.e., 'independent' and producing fewer than 6 millon barrels of beer per year) was D.G. Yuengling — at 2,805,367 barrels— the fourth-lagest brewery, overall.
- Pabst has plans to opening a small brew-pub on part of the site of its original, now-closed, brewery in Milwaukee. Wisconsin.
- Here are a few of the beer brands that are contract-brewed for Pabst, many of them 'legacy' brands, their breweries long ago sold and closed:
- Ballantine IPA
- Colt 45
- Lone Star
- National Bohemian
- Old Style
- Old Milwaukee
- Pabst Blue Ribbon
- MillerCoors, which brews most of the volume for Pabst, has told Pabst that it plans to stop brewing Pabst's beers. In response, Pabst has sued MillerCoors (a joint venture of SABMiller and MolsonCoors) for breach of agreement.
- Believe marketing claims with a corn of barley, if not a grain of salt. The hop varieties used in this new version of Old Tankard were NOT available in the 1930s. They are stand-ins for what was being grown. Likewise for the barley varities and malt types. It's a 'creative' re-creation compromise.
- Drinking, Again is a series of occasional reviews of beer (and wine and spirits). No scores; only descriptions. More reviews: here.
- Graphic created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.
- For more from YFGF: