Pabst Blue Ribbon Will Run You $44 a Bottle in China

In the U.S., Pabst Blue Ribbon (or PBR) is a cheap, unpretentious beer popular among hipsters. In China, it's "Blue Ribbon 1844," costs about $44 a bottle, and is called a "world-famous spirit." It also comes in a funny bottle.

Chinese media blog Danwei found the above ad in a "respected biweekly business magazine" called Window of the South. That fancy-looking bottle all by itself in a dark room? It's PBR, reborn as Blue Ribbon 1844 (well... kind of—see update below) and accompanied by some very flowery ad copy:

It's not just Scotch that's put into wooden casks. There's also Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer 1844

Many world-famous spirits
Are matured in precious wooden casks
Scotch whisky, French brandy, Bordeaux wine...
They all spend long days inside wooden casks

Uh-huh. 1844 is, of course, the year the Pabst Brewing Company was founded in Milwaukee. The New Yorker's Evan Osnos attributes the rebranding to China's newfound use for alcohol as a "prime tool for conspicuous consumption," and, of course, "the Chinese fondness for trophies and ribbons." Here's another poster, from the beer's official website:

Pabst Blue Ribbon Will Run You $44 a Bottle in China

Update: A tipster points out that Blue Ribbon 1844 isn't actually the same beer you and me and everyone in Williamsburg drinks. From the March 5 issue of Modern Brewery Age (PDF):

Alan Kornhauser, who started his brewing career at Jos. Huber, and subsequently worked at Anchor Brewing Co., Portland Brewing Co., August Schell and elsewhere, now works for Pabst in China six months of each year. Interestingly, he reports that Pabst China has started expanding its horizons beyond Blue Ribbon. "We just produced China's first real specialty beer, an all-malt, reddish brown strong (15.7 plato) ale, dry hopped with Cascade (38 IBU) and aged in new uncharred American whiskey barrels," Mr. Kornhauser reports. "It's being bottled in a nice looking 720-ml brown bottle with an enamel label and it is called Blue Ribbon 1844, a reference to Pabst's founding date. It will only be sold in China, and it's going to sell for over $20 a bottle!"

[Danwei via Evan Osnos]