National Bohemian -- or "Natty Boh" if you live in Baltimore, Annapolis or the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake -- has been a staple of Maryland summers (and springs, falls and winters) for years. "Crabcakes and football, that's what Maryland does," perhaps the most famous line from the 2005 comedy "Wedding Crashers," could have been amended to include a reference to Natty Boh, and Marylanders wouldn't have batted an eye.
Just as Yuengling is deeply associated with Pennsylvanians, residents of the Old Line State identify with National Bohemian, which was first brewed in Baltimore in 1885, as "their" beer, sometimes even coating the rims of mugs with Maryland's equally beloved Old Bay seasoning.
But that all changed Thursday, when a Russian beverage conglomerate purchased Pabst. Pabst, best known for brewing Pabst Blue Ribbon lager, has owned National Bohemian since 1999, meaning that what happens to PBR also happens to Natty Boh.
Russian-American entrepreneur Eugene Kashper announced that the Russian beer and soda corporation he founded in 2008, Oasis Beverages, will partner with private-equity firm TSG Consumer Partners LLC to purchase Pabst. The deal values Pabst at between $700 million and $750 million, people familiar with the negotiations told the Wall Street Journal.
“The opportunity to work with the company’s treasure trove of iconic brands, some of which I started my career selling, is a dream come true," Kashper said in a statement. One of the "iconic brands" in that "treasure trove" is Maryland's most famous swill.
Yet, Natty Boh hasn't been brewed in Maryland for years -- the stuff you currently chug in between sets at the Rams Head in Annapolis and while watching the sun set at Macky's Bar and Grill in Ocean City is mostly produced at a brewing plant in North Carolina, and Pabst itself, founded in 1844 in Milwaukee, is now headquartered in Los Angeles. But having Russians running the ship once Kashper takes over for current co-CEOs Evan and Daren Metropoulos is a whole different ballgame, and one that many Orioles and Ravens fans may find a hard pill to swallow.