Pabst discontinues production of once top-selling beer

Pabst Brewing Co. has discontinued selling Falstaff beer, once one of the largest selling beer brands in America.

Pabst, which owns the Falstaff brand, decided to stop selling the beer because of dwindling sales, said Allen Hwang, Pabst's marketing director. Pabst only sold 1,468 barrels (a barrel equals 31 gallons) of Falstaff nationwide last year, and that figure was falling, he said. "It's now at such a low rate that we couldn't sustain any type of minimum (production) run on the product," Hwang said.

Last month, Pabst shipped the last cases of Falstaff beer to wholesalers. The brewer hasn't yet decided what to do with the brand, such as selling it to another company.

The William J. Lemp Brewing Co. of St. Louis created Falstaff in 1903. When Prohibition forced the closure of the Lemp brewery, local brewer Joseph Griesedieck purchased the Falstaff name in 1920 and changed his company's name to Falstaff Corp., eventually to be renamed Falstaff Brewing.

Falstaff was the country's third-largest brewer from 1957 to 1960. Its production peaked at 7 million barrels in 1966.

In 1975, Falstaff sold a controlling interest to Paul Kalmanovitz. Within a few months after Kalmanovitz bought control of Falstaff, he had dismissed dozens of company managers and moved the headquarters to San Francisco. Falstaff closed its last St. Louis brewery in 1977.

The Falstaff brand eventually came under Pabst after Kalmanovitz acquired the brewer in 1983. Pabst doesn't own any breweries, contracting other brewers to make its products.