Pabst Blue Ribbon

Let’s talk about a beer style for a second…

One style that gets much maligned by your average beer-snob is the American Lager.

American-Style Lager
PBR is not just any beer- so you would expect the history to be a bit unusual, and it is. Pabst was originally called Select with the can opener. Today this classic American brew has been adopted by a whole new generation of PBR drinkers. Currently PBR is one of the fastest growing domestic beer brands. When you're this good quality always comes through-PBR ME ASAP!
ABV: 4.74%
IBUs: 12
Availability: Year Round
Glassware: Pint Glass

Technically, they’re usually criticizing the “American Adjunct Lager”. An “adjunct” is a beer made with unmalted grains such as rice or corn instead of what the beer is normally made with, which in this case would be malted barley. Rice and corn are cheaper and produce a slightly differing style. Rice, for example, results in a lighter body and mouthfeel and sometimes can add a mild sweetness to the final product.

To me, people who criticize an entire style of beer aren’t worth listening to. Don’t get me wrong, I think Bud Light tastes like crap too, but you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

My favorite American Adjunct Lager would be Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR).

While PBR has undergone a revival of sorts in the last decade, and has gotten something of a reputation as an “urban hipster” beer, the truth is that it’s a damn fine brew and an exemplar example of the style.

Once, when explaining how to describe a beer, I described PBR like so:

“Clear golden color, with a 3/4 inch thick white head, which quickly reduced to a minimal thin lacing. Pleasant but subdued scent, mostly sweet lagered malts. Slight amount of grain flavors, with subdued grassy hop undertones. Minimal bitterness. Somewhat fizzy in appearance, but only lightly carbonated flavors. Crisp and dry mouthfeel, with a slight hint of oiliness when warmer. Overall clean flavor, very light malts used. Good session beer, would be excellent with stronger beef or spiced chicken flavors.”

Whenever I use this terminology to describe what many think is a cheap get-em-drunk beer, people think I’m mildly insane.

So I will refer those people to this description from Charlie Papazian, founder of the Association of Brewers and the Great American Beer Festival.

A contrasting counterpoint of sharp texture and flowing sweetness is evident at the first sip of this historic brew. A slowly increasing hoppiness adds to the interplay of ingredients, while the texture smooths out by mid-bottle. The clear, pale-gold body is light and fizzy. Medium-bodied Blue Ribbon finishes with a dusting of malts and hops. A satisfying American classic and a Gold Medal winner at the 2006 Great American Beer Festival.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Logo

Thing is, I love PBR. It’s not my favorite beer; it’s not even in my top ten. But it’s my go-to beer for relaxing at the bar and chatting with friends. Why? Because it’s pretty darned good, you can have 3 or 4 of them without feeling like bloated crap, and it’s reasonably priced. It’s a session beer, quite simply.

Everybody has their own tastes. If you don’t like PBR, then that’s fine. But if you don’t like PBR because of the “hipster” thing, or because you don’t like the whole style of what I like to call “beer-flavored beer”, then you might want to reconsider your position. I don’t like okra because I think it tastes like fried lawn trimmings, but I didn’t discount vegetables entirely because of that dislike.

And hey, if you prefer Old Style or Schlitz or (god-help-you) High Life, then more power to you. To each his own.

Oh, and if you’re the kind of person who just says “I don’t like beer”, then I hate to tell you this but you’re on the wrong site. Just go away and enjoy your wine, ya weirdo. ;)

2 thoughts on “Pabst Blue Ribbon

  1. Nice write up Otto.

    Here in PDX, PBR is the hipster beer of choice, and it’s available everywhere, sometimes as a $1 draft at dive bar A, or an incredible $4 pint (recently at the Crystal Ballroom). And like you mention, its not the best but certainly has its place.

    However, IMHO, Rainier (also produced now by Pabst) is so much better as a cheap session-able beer. Next time you want cheap and many, give Raaaaaaiiinnniiieerrrrrr Beeeeerrrr a try. Might just make your top…. 20.


    1. High life & PBR to me are very similar in many ways (that is the bottled version)
      So many shared traits ,ie: mass produced, similar ingredients ,cold brewed, etc..
      Saying ” god help you ” smacks of label taste more than literal flavor choice,no?
      That trolled , I think that both beer’s best attribute is cost,( as you mentioned.)
      A great cheap American beer I miss is Strogh’s ( been so long not sure of spelling anymore), ” fire brewed” kind’a silly I know but a contender top 10 amer. lager .
      Do they still brew it ? (P.S) Favorite – Unfettered IPA’s

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