The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE - Pabst Brewing Co. plans to close its last brewery and completely transfer production to Miller Brewing Co., Pabst executives said Monday.

Pabst's last brewery, in Fogelsville, Pa., near Allentown, is set to close Sept. 21. More than 400 employees will lose their jobs.

"We've got a lot of people with over 20 years of service. Myself, I've got 20 years of service," said Dave Haberacker, president of Teamsters Local 12, which represents brewery employees. "I'm not happy about it closing."

Miller, the nation's second-largest brewer, will produce all Pabst brands. The company expects to brew an additional 2.4 million barrels of beer annually, Miller spokesman Michael Brophy said.

Pabst, the nation's fourth-largest brewery, will now become a marketing firm that sells beer produced entirely by other brewers, slashing its operating costs, said Jim Walter, chief operating officer.

Pabst's last two breweries were in San Antonio and Allentown. The company closed the San Antonio facil-ity in May.

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The Allentown brewery was expected to close when Miller freed up enough capacity to handle the increased production, Walter said.

The new production will go to Miller breweries in Trenton, Ohio; Eden, N.C.; and Albany, Ga. No new jobs will be added, Brophy said.

Miller currently produces about 80 percent of Pabst's brands, including Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Milwaukee, Schlitz and Stroh's. Pabst and Miller struck that deal after Stroh Brewery Co. sold out to the two companies in 1999.

Pabst acquired most of Stroh's brands, including Schlitz and Old Milwaukee, and expanded its production contract with Miller to brew them. Stroh left the beer business and closed its G. Heileman Brewery in La Crosse in August 1999. The La Crosse plant reopened in November 1999 as the City Brewery, under new ownership.

Pabst sold 10.8 million barrels of beer in 2000, down 19.7 percent from 1999, according to Beer Marketer's Insights, a trade publication. Miller sold 42.4 million barrels in 2000, down 4 percent from 1999. Miller made $4.25 billion in overall revenue in 2000.

The Allentown closing will leave Pabst with about 200 employees, including 15 in Milwaukee.

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