Drink up

Pabst Brewing Company/Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer

4.7% ABV

If you're American and you're a beer drinker, chances are you're familiar with Pabst Blue Ribbon. Maybe it was your grandpa's beer of choice for every family reunion and barbecue. Or perhaps your dad used to drink it while mowing the lawn. Were you in a fraternity or sorority? We hear Pabst is the go-to beer for keg stands. Or else, the bespectacled fellow sitting next to you at a hip dive bar put you up on it. Either way, one thing reads clear: PBR, as it's commonly called, is a beer whose reputation and marketing largely rely on nostalgia and retro appeal.

The beer has style, but it also has the authenticity to back it up. Pabst was founded by Jacob Best in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1844. Best started tying blue silk ribbons to the bottlenecks of its "Pabst's Best Select" beer by hand in 1882 after it won a gold medal at the Centennial Celebration. Customers started asking for "the beer with the blue ribbon," so the name was changed, and its popularity continued to grow exponentially. Eventually, the company moved its headquarters to Woodridge, Illinois, and more recently to Los Angeles, though it's brewed under contract at several locations around the country.

The beer is properly classified as an American adjunct lager that uses corn syrup as its adjunct ingredient. The beer has high drinkability, is extremely crisp (due to a high carbonation level) and refreshing, and doesn't have the bitterness of other beers in its class. It has a lower ABV, so you can comfortably drink more than one, and it is best enjoyed ice cold and straight out of the aluminum can. It is a budget lager that is brewed to be bought in volume. According to the company, PBR is made with a combination of two- and six-row malted barley, select cereal grains and American and European hops, and then fermented with a proprietary lager yeast. The result is a straw yellow pour with a smooth, full-bodied feel and a clean, crisp finish. It definitely has the aroma of corn and hops, and overall, the flavors blend really nicely. Out of all the adjunct American lagers, PBR is the tastiest and the most balanced, making it the best beer of its class by far.

Though we might not feel as strongly as Dennis Hopper's character, Frank Booth, in the movie Blue Velvet, we conclude that PBR is truly a beer drinker's beer. It's an old-school American beer that everyone, from Pop Pop and Nana to loft-dwelling urban hipsters, can rely on for style, flavor, and affordability.


Join Detroit Metro Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.