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How Did Pabst Win Its Blue Ribbon?

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Before it was called PBR, the official beer of hipsters, old blue collar Wisconsinites, and Frank Booth was brewed under the name Best Select. It was named for the founder of the brewery, Jacob Best, who had since retired and left the running of the company to his sons. Best’s son-in-law, a former steamship captain named Johann Gottlieb Friedrich Pabst, also owned a share of the business, and he eventually became its president and changed the name to the Pabst Brewing Company.

According to the company’s own history, Best Select had won numerous awards at beer competitions at home and abroad. A shrewd marketer, Pabst had blue silk ribbon tied around the neck of each bottle, to identify it as the winner it was, starting in 1882. Within a decade, the brewery was going through one million feet of ribbon a year. 

For all the awards, Best Select had never won a literal blue ribbon up to that point. The first, according to the company, came at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The attention and sales that followed inspired the company to change Best Select to Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Other accounts of the Columbian Exposition contradict Pabst’s claim, though. Like other fairs of the day, the 1893 exposition lured exhibitors with promises of awards. But according to a few modern and historical sources, its organizers went about the prizes a little differently. Instead of competing directly against each other, the exhibitors in different categories were judged against a list of criteria that represented a standard of excellence for that category. “Every entrant who met the standard would leave Chicago with a commemorative bronze medal and a parchment certificate,” Maureen Ogle says in Ambitious Brew. “The White City’s purity would thus remain unsullied by undignified brawls for prizes and grubby scrimmages over medals and ribbons.”

For the beer exhibitions, the judges were told to score each brew on purity, color, and flavor and assign a score between 0 and 100. Any beer that scored 80 or higher would then get a medal and certificate. Things didn’t exactly work out that way once the exposition got rolling, and the beer judges decided to come up with their own scoring system, with ranked prizes awarded based on numerical scores in categories of their own creation. The brewers were left to assume that whoever ended the fair with the highest score “won,” never mind that there was, officially, no grand prize and that each medal looked the same as all the others. 

King of Brewers

Leading Pabst by two points near the end of judging, Anheuser-Busch began celebrating early, ordering an award placard for their exhibit and taking out ads in the local papers announcing they had won the nonexistent grand prize and were the “King of Brewers.” After the final category had been scored, the judges’ table devolved into deadlock and in-fighting, and a special supervisory committee had to be formed to sort things out. In the end, Pabst ended up ahead of Busch by just a fraction of a point.

Pabst quickly announced himself as the “grand prize winner,” even though his medal and certificate were exactly the same as those won by other brewers. To celebrate, he had the entire brewery in Milwaukee draped in blue ribbon and gave all his workers a day off. Despite what seems to be a gross misunderstanding of the prize system by both the judges and the contestants, Pabst continues to boast that their beer was picked as “America’s Best in 1893” on each and every can of PBR. 

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New Pop Chart Lab Poster Is a Boozy Blueprint For Making Classic Cocktails
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Pop Chart Lab's posters combine design with data, and their latest offering—a full breakdown of the ingredients in 60 classic cocktails—is no exception. From the exact ratio of gin and tonic that should go into a G & T (2 ounces and 4 ounces, respectively) to the garnishes you'll need to make a proper Tom Collins (a maraschino cherry and a lemon twist), the 3-foot-by-2-foot "Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" artwork teaches mixology basics you'd typically learn in bartending school, sans tuition fee.

In addition to mainstays like the Negroni and the Whiskey Sour, the poster also includes relatively obscure drinks (ever heard of the Golden Dawn, or the Journalist?), which you can attempt after drinking your way through your favorite concoctions. Before you know it, you'll be explaining to your friends the intricacies of why you should stir martinis instead of shaking them (sorry, James Bond), or the difference between a highball and a Collins glass. Bottoms up!

"Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" costs $37, and is currently available for pre-order. Shipping begins on Friday, October 20, 2017. (To see the poster's details up close, visit Pop Chart Lab's website and click on the diagram.)

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Attention Beer Lovers: A London Brewery Is Hiring a Professional Taste-Tester
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Beer lovers aren’t given many chances to discuss their passion for imbibing at job interviews. But a new open position at London's Meantime Brewing Company lists that expertise as one of the top qualifications. As Fortune reports, the brewery is seeking a professional beer taster to help improve its products.

The brewery’s part-time employee will “join the panel brewers as they taste, discuss, and pass opinion on a range of different beers,” according to the job listing on LinkedIn. On top of steady access to free booze three hours a week, the taster will receive a competitive salary “with beer benefits.” As the description reads: “Yes, this could just be the best job in the world.”

Meantime isn’t just considering any casual beer drinker for the role. Their ideal candidate will have a precise palate that can distinguish “chocolate malt from dark malt” and “Fuggles from Cascade hops.” They will also have an understanding of global consumer markets, a functioning knowledge of English, and an extensive beer vocabulary. The brewery is located in the London borough of Greenwich, so applicants who aren’t local should be willing to relocate.

Founded in 1999, the Meantime Brewing Company made its name on the beer scene with signature beverages like their London Lager, London Pale Ale, and Yakima Red. If you’re interested in joining the team, post 30 words on your LinkedIn profile explaining why you deserve the gig, along with any photos or videos that may help your case, with the hashtag #pickmemeantime. The company will narrow down the pool to three candidates for an in-person beer tasting before deciding their top pick. Meanwhile, you can prepare for the job by brushing up on your beer facts.

[h/t Fortune]

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