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Lone Star No More? What You Need to Know About a Surprising Lawsuit

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For over a century, Pabst and Miller have been competing for beer customers throughout Texas, not to mention the rest of the country. But as beer markets changed dramatically, the consumer was ill-informed as to the rumblings that are now happening between the two, and what that could result in. Could you imagine Texas without Lone Star Beer? It’s a possibility.

Miller is now operating as MillerCoors, which falls under the Molson Coors umbrella. Pabst operates as a private company which pays MillerCoors to make its famed Blue Ribbon beer, in addition to several other brands. On Wednesday, November 14, the beer behemoths squared-off in court, in Milwaukee County, for a trial that could see Pabst brands suffering.

Lone Star No More? What You Need to Know About a Surprising Lawsuit

Photo: Facebook/Lone Star Beer

Pabst owns Lone Star Beer. It also owns Pearl, if you’re familiar with that brand. Both of these beloved Texas brands are threatened in the PBR and MillerCoors dispute, including Colt 45 Malt Liquor, Schlitz, Stroh’s, and Old Milwaukee. Since Pabst closed the Texas Hill Country-based Pearl Brewery in San Antonio in 2001, all of its products have been brewed by Miller breweries. Miller in Fort Worth brews Lone Star and Pearl. The existing contract for this process is in effect through 2020, with the potential for two extensions of five years each. However, MillerCoors has stated that it doesn’t have the capacity to continue with Pabst’s beers, and subsequently will only extend the contract at a price which Pabst has said isn’t a viable option. As a result, MillerCoors is being sued by Pabst in a trial which is anticipated to last throughout this month.

Lone Star No More? What You Need to Know About a Surprising Lawsuit

Photo: Facebook/Lone Star Beer Via Matthew JS

Without their own breweries, Pabst has stated it had no alternative but to file the lawsuit against MillerCoors. The company has released this statement: “Even though MillerCoors’ market power is much larger than Pabst’s, we will not allow this industry bully to push us around. We are confident that the court will see MillerCoors’ fabricated ‘capacity’ concerns for what they are: a thinly veiled, bad faith attempt to unlawfully hurt a competitor.” Could this be the end of iconic Texas beer brands such as Lone Star? It appears that the profit to be had from this brand in Texas alone would be appealing for a brand purchase, in that another company could step up to the plate and buy its production from Pabst. But what of Pearl? Does the same hold true for this long-time Texas hallmark of beers? In the meantime, it’s predicted that if they’re smart, Shiner is watching this trial intently. The possibility that the Spoetzl Brewery could be positioned as the last vestige of true Texas mainstream beer once the dust settles is a strong one.