Pabst Sued Over Water Origins

Sourcing water from an EPA Superfund site has raised some questions.

Few American manufacturing brands share a story like that of Pabst Brewing.

Most commonly associated with its namesake Pabst Blue Ribbon, the brewer has taken a brand on the verge of extinction in the late 1990s to a company comprising a collection of vintage beer labels that now includes Old Style, Blatz, Lone Star, Rainer, Schlitz and 17 others, including Olympia. However, the success Pabst has enjoyed in revitalizing a number of labels and becoming the largest American-owned brewer hasn’t isolated it from legal issues.

According to a lawsuit filed by Brendan Peacock, Pabst is partaking in misleading advertising about the ingredients in Olympia beer. And more specifically, the water. Peacock feels the water used to make the beer is promoted as being from a natural spring near Tumwater, Washington. This stems from a historical account on the brand’s site that alludes to the beer’s origins and its founder who utilized the artesian spring. 

However, when Los Angeles-based Pabst bought the brand in 1982 it began making the beer in Irwindale, California, with water coming from the San Gabriel Valley water supply. Peacock feels this makes the water’s origins, well, somewhat murky. Adding to the drama is the fact that the EPA refers to this area as the San Gabriel Valley Area 2 Superfund Site due to its groundwater contamination. The problem was first identified in 1979 and stems from decades of “improper chemical handling and disposal”. 

According to the EPA, as of December of last year more than 130 billion gallons of contaminated ground water had been treated, and more than 40,000 pounds of contamination removed from the soil. 

This also isn’t the first time that Peacock has made a case against a brewer. He’s since settled a lawsuit against the 21st Amendment brewery for suggesting its beer was made in San Francisco, when some is actually brewed in Minnesota.