Pabst Blue Ribbon: Blue Velvet
“Heineken?!?! Fuck that shit! … PABST BLUE RIBBON!!!” – A manic Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth in the film “Blue Velvet.”
When I first decided to do a write-up on Pabst Blue Ribbon, I anticipated Belly readers would question my judgement. “But Rob,” they’d say, “isn’t PBR the kind of unmitigated swill you said the Beer Belly would steer clear of?” In a word, the answer is “yes.” In several words, the answer is “yes and no.” Here’s what I mean…
On the main page of the Beer Belly, I admit that I may have seemed a little flippant with regard to lower-end domestic brews. This is not because I’m a beer snob, though (remember, if you like it, it’s good). Rather, I felt that you don’t need me to shed any light on the high and low points of the Bud-Coors-Millers of the world. Those are the brews our dads drank—and therefore we did too—when we were well under the drinking age. Instead, my aim has been to provide you with some humble advice on lesser-known beers that work well with Belly recipes.
So where does PBR fit into this discussion?
Yes, PBR does fall into the “piss” category. And yet, there’s a certain retro-coolness to be found in those all-American aluminum cans. PBR (in tall boys) was the official beer sold in the stands at Shea Stadium when the Jets still played there. PBR filled my cooler on many a camping trip in my college days–where breakfast, lunch and dinner were all “grill meals.” Several cases of PBR accompanied two friends and me on a road trip to Boston to visit my buddy Chuck. We arrived at his place late morning, while he was still in class, and by the time he returned home (mid-afternoon) we had already killed one case. Two days later his kitchen table was stacked with empties that we used like Lego blocks to create a beautiful tower that reached the ceiling.
Most important, PBR was (and is) cheap. And never let anyone tell you life is too short to drink cheap beer.
But, who drinks PBR nowadays? Who even knows where to find it? Imagine how cool you’ll be, and how much money can save for that dream grill you’ve longed for, as you suck down a few cans in your yard deciding what to have for dinner. The neighbors will gawk with envy as they sip on their warm, flat, Coors Lights.
PBR stands out from most swill in that it actually has flavor—somewhat bitter, yet with a clean light aftertaste. Its high carbonation level also contributes to its crispness. It’s the kind of beer that never, ever fills you up, and this makes it an ideal choice for pre- and post-meal guzzling. To get maximum enjoyment from PBR, make sure you follow the “rule of the C’s” below:
PBR must be Cold – icy cold, in fact. As it warms, PBR molecules tend to bond with ambient urine molecules in the atmosphere, making it taste like Brooklyn Pilsner (see Mike Best’s review).
PBR must be in Cans – aluminum is actually an important component of PBR’s flavor. Furthermore, it’s imperative that you crush each can against your forehead when it’s finished. This makes it easier to toss into the neighbor’s yard, and nobody has to worry about broken glass injuries.
PBR should be purchased by the Case – volume discounts, my Cheap friends. Keep several cases on hand, and make “Blue Velvet” your house brew. It’ll make you appreciate the other beers even more.
PABST BLUE RIBBON FACTS
- Pabst started tying blue silk ribbons to the bottlenecks of its “Select” beer by hand in 1882. Customers called it “that blue ribbon beer,” so the name was changed.
- During World War II, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans were painted olive drab at the factory for military use. All of the canned beer was for the military. Pabst Blue Ribbon beer was not sold to civilians in cans during the war because of tin rationing.
- After a steady decline in sales since the 1970s, website BriansBelly.com makes PBR one of their first beer reviews in 1999. Since then, Pabst sales have risen achieving a 5 percent increase in 2002 and 15 percent in 2003. In Nashville, sales shot up 99 percent in 2003.