All We Are Saying...Is Give Pabst A Chance.
Many apologies, fans of John Lennon, for the shameless hijacking of a wonderful song title. I couldn't resist. Now, this post is aimed at beer drinkers far and wide, and it's a plea to do a paradigm shift and open your eyes to the "low-end" beers that are considered cheap and nasty. They may be cheap, but I can assure you, nasty is not a fitting phrase. (See also: 21 Great Uses for Beer)
I have been a fan of beer since I turned 18, the legal drinking age in Britain. My personal favorites have always been the darker beers, the bitter, the stouts, and the wheat beers. I like flavor. I love microbrewery beers. But sometimes, on a hot day or when you're chugging a few pints at a party, the heavier beers are a little too much.
That's when most people turn to the crowd-pleasers. First, the light and regular domestic beers from Miller, Coors, and Budweiser. Or the premium beers, like Sam Adams, Stella Artois, Heineken, Red Stripe, Kingfisher, Kronenbourg, and so on. Lastly, if you happen to like spending some cash, are the microbrews and exotic beers. I've paid $12 for one bottle of beer, and that was the liquor store price. If I'd ordered it in a restaurant, it would easily have cost the same as a bottle of wine.
However, stuck in the back of the liquor store, in a darkened, shameful corner of the fridge, are the red-headed stepchildren of the beer world. You know their names. They include Keystone, Colt 45, Miller High Life, Bud Ice, and the most infamous of them all, Pabst Blue Ribbon.
These beers are branded as cheap, and rightly so. They are cheap. The average price for a 30-pack of 12oz cans comes in at between $18-$20. That's around 60 cents per can. Compare that to $1 for a bottle of Bud ($6 for a six-pack) or $1.50 for a premium beer ($9 for a six-pack) and you rack up some big savings by drinking the cheap beers.
"Ah, but you're sacrificing flavor," the beer aficionados will say.
I guarantee that the majority of the loyal drinkers of the three biggest light-beer brands (Bud Light, Miller Light, Coors Light) could not tell the difference between those beers in a blind taste test.
If you scoff at that, take the test yourself. Better yet, put money on it. That will really make things interesting. As I have several friends in the beer industry here in Colorado (the home of Miller/Coors) I know that the test has been done several times.
The results are always the same; most people do no better than chance. Even people who have been drinking the same brand for 20 years usually don't know the difference once the label is out of the picture.
And if that's the case, how would something like Pabst Blue Ribbon stand up? After all, PBR is a gold medal winner. The following extract came from Wikipedia:
Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association, published the following tasting notes for Pabst Blue Ribbon in 2008: "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 smoothes 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.”
Now, that's not too shabby. Miller High Life won the silver that year, too. These are good beers folks. They're not amazing beers, but they don't deserve the stigma attached to them, either. Next time you have a barbecue or birthday party, grab a case of PBR or another "cheap" beer and display it with pride. You're serving good beer and you're saving money, too. Which means you can afford more beer! Now, that's one more reason to celebrate.