Thursday, September 8, 2011
Pabst Blue Ribbon
It’s been a really long time since I’ve reviewed a swill beer. With football season upon us, I will be drinking my fair share of swill. Of course I’m a craft beer aficionado. But I’m no snob. I like a good cheap beer as much as the next guy. Notice I said good cheap beer. I would sooner imbibe my own urine than drink a can of Natural Light. Even swill beer should taste good (at least in comparison to other swill beers!). Say what you will about the venerable PBR, but in terms of taste it’s pretty much at the head of the swill class. This beer’s level of credibility has risen and fallen so many times that I’ve lost track of whether or not I’m “supposed” to like it. First it was considered rotgut garbage suitable for only angry old men with dulled taste buds. Then it was adopted by hipsters and quickly became “cool”. Then, precisely because it had been adopted by hipsters, it became “un-cool” again. This back-and-forth will continue until the end of time, and ultimately a man has to take a stand. I’ll say it: for what it is, PBR is a perfectly fine product. It’s not, as some bearded indie rockers in ironic trucker hats would lead you to believe, a “secret” craft-quality beer. Nor is it, as many beer snobs maintain, completely interchangeable with Coors and Bud. What it is, really, is a solid “American style” lager and a great value for its cost. Like any beer of its style, it’s got corn adjuncts out the wazoo. But relatively speaking, PBR isn’t a terribly skunky macro lager. And the corn funkiness is far less an issue when it’s served cold. The flavor, for a swill, is pretty much ideal: clean and crisp with a teeny-tiny peck kiss of grassy hops going down. “Paired” with pizza, subs, or nachos, it’s tasty and refreshing. It’s easy to take pot-shots at PBR and knock it because it’s contract-brewed or because people buy it for the label. Hmmm: funny how no one thinks any less of Coca-Cola for having an iconic label. When push comes to shove, PBR is far more than just good branding. It’s good beer as well. I’d say it’s earned that blue ribbon fair and square.