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Group calling for Pabst Blue Ribbon to return to Milwaukee roots

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A group of Milwaukee residents wants to revive Milwaukee's brewing tradition by buying Pabst Brewing Co. from a California executive in hopes of returning the brand to its birthplace, possibly as a city-owned brewery.

The Associated Press reports the effort appears to be a distant long shot, requiring hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire the 170-year-old beer best known as PBR.

But Milwaukee officials like the idea enough to talk about it, and at least one industry analyst says the plan is not beyond the realm of possibility.

"When I think about Pabst being anywhere else but Milwaukee, it just doesn't make sense," says Susie Seidelman, an organizer of the "Bring Pabst Blue Ribbon Home" effort. "Milwaukee made this beer what it is. ... It's right on the can."

Pabst started in Milwaukee in 1844 is now headquartered in Los Angeles after being bought by food industry executive C. Dean Metropoulos in 2010 for a reported $250 million.

The AP reports Pabst representatives would not comment on any potential sale or the efforts to bring the brand back to Milwaukee, saying only that they "are considering financial alternatives" that will help Pabst "aggressively pursue its next phase of growth through strategic acquisitions."

The effort to buy Pabst has a Facebook page titled "Milwaukee Should Own Pabst Blue Ribbon" and a website at bringpbrhome.com, which lets visitors sign a letter to Metropoulos.

The letter acknowledges that the purchase proposal might seem "crazy" but asks readers to "humor us for just a moment."

"We want to bring PBR home," reads the letter, expected to be sent next week.

The group's website was put together by the great-great granddaughter of brewery founder Frederick Pabst. Bridget Byrnes, a web designer in Missoula, Mont., volunteered after seeing the Facebook page. The return of Pabst back would hopefully create jobs and "bring Milwaukee back to the beer city it was."

A letter to the Milwaukee mayor and city council asks them to consider the purchase of Pabst using a community ownership model similar to that of the Green Bay Packers, in which the public buys stock that does not increase in value and pays no dividends. The AP reports they are also considering other options, including forming a cooperative.

Check out this video about the effort:

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