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Pabst a Blast from the Past

How trendy do you think you are?

When I say PBR, what do you think of? If you said Pabst Blue Ribbon, then you qualify as a hipster these days. But I’m not so sure what it says about your palate. Just when small, local craft breweries seem to finally be making a real place for themselves at bars across America along comes Pabst, a blast from the past that’s threatening to set beer bellies back to a previous generation. A generation when beers were brewskies and hops were considered to be the Easter Bunny’s only mode of transportation.

I like beer. I’ll be honest, I like good beer. Because there is a difference. A huge difference. Once you’ve tasted good beer how can you go back to brewskies? I’m trying to understand the resurgence of Pabst, I really am. Is it the recession? The economy? Is PBR the new black simply because you can get 12 cans for $6.99?

Or is it more complicated? Is PBR a cultural touchstone? I think it started about 5 years ago. At least that’s when I noticed red, white and blue aluminum cans popping up all around me. I was at an art opening. Art openings (at least in Los Angeles) are known to serve wine from, shall we say, the bottom shelf. I often find myself in questionable neighborhoods among the glitterati discussing the meaning of challenging art while drinking cheap wine out of a plastic cup. It seems odd to me though. You’d think any person willing to lay down $20,000 for a photograph is also the kind of person who drinks expensive wine. Gallery owners apparently don’t think so. So fine. Who am I to question their business model?

Anyway I was at  one of those self-consciously stylish gallery openings and I was surprised to find Pabst Blue Ribbon was being served. What was a homely little Midwest brewski doing in place like this? I decided it must have been an all-knowing, ironic nod to all that bad wine forced upon us at these events. At first I thought it wry and clever. I never considered it might be a trend that would catch on.

But soon after that, every time I went someplace where the hipsters hang, someone was hoisting a Pabst. A little Googling revealed that Pabst had indeed been discovered by the trendier-than-thou set. Though sources disagree on exactly where the PBR trend started (Portland? Brooklyn? Chicago?), all agree that it’s been lifted from droll schmaltz to hipster beer status for several years now.

I’ll admit it bothers me. I don’t see the attraction. Bad beer shouldn’t be part of a person’s uniform. Useless bow-ties and fake horn-rims are harmless fashion accessories, but Pabst Blue Ribbon looks bad on everyone.

Or does it? GREG