Pabst Blue Ribbon: An Ode

I've developed a thick skin in my brief foray into the journalism business.

But the reaction to my last column commenting on the plight of Generation X was simply too much to bear without comment.

It wasn't that I was called a "loser" and that my opinion deemed "lame" by various Mail Tribune forum users — all cowering behind aliases I might add. At least I sign my name to my work.

No problem there. Personal attacks come with the territory. I've written logging stories and chronicled illegal immigrants so I'm accustomed to catching it from both sides.

But when forumite "krucifor" described my drink of choice as "fizzy yellow piss" I suddenly wished that society would devolve back to an era when such insults were dealt with by pistols at dawn.

My relationship with Pabst Blue Ribbon is best illuminated by this dream for my future I've nurtured for several years.

I hope to one day strike a deal with Pabst Brewing Company for a PBR-sponsored single-A minor league baseball team.

I would build Pabst Blue Ribbon field near my home south of Chicago, in the cornfields just beyond the suburban sprawl.

There I would spend my summer evenings watching the Blue Ribbons take the field from my owner's box, sipping the fruits of my labor with my friends, who would worship me like a primitive sun god until I die.

Rebirth of a legend

In the interest of full disclosure I will admit that I'm a member of the Pabst Blue Ribbon Club, card number 41765.

PBR had a long and arduous journey on its way to earning the honors of being my favorite beer.

Sales went into the gutter in the late '70s, forcing the company to close its flagship brewery in Milwaukee. The headquarters then relocated to San Antonio, which is depressing.

According to a Boston Globe story, the brand manager noticed in 2001 that sales had spiked in the Portland and Seattle areas.

Several media reports ascribe the boom to urban hipsters, who adopted the beer in the face of the fancy microbrew craze. Not to mention the irony factor, which riffed on PBR's simple Americana look and history.

These things may, in part, be true, but let's not forget one simple comparison. A pint of Rogue Dead Guy Ale will run you $4.50 in many local bars. I can have two pints of PBR — damn near three if I hit the Wild Goose in Ashland — for that much at most places.

Now sales are their highest in 30 years. This is amazing, considering the company spends almost nothing on advertising.

Which is beautiful. A piece of my heart dies a little every time I see a PBR commercial on television.

I'm just going to say it. For a cheap domestic beer, the taste of PBR borders on the kinda tolerably damn good.

The company itself isn't evil. In an unprecedented move by me, I actually called the company's hotline and raved about their product. The patient woman on the other line seemed genuinely pleased to hear someone complimenting the brand. I guess most corporations aren't used to hearing good news.

She agreed to send me a coupon for a free six pack.

And for that alone, PBR will hold a permanent place in my heart.

I can't fully support the entire Pabst Brewing Company line of brews, of which there are 25, including Pacific Northwest icons such as Rainier and Olympia.

Sorry, but my bad beer line is drawn at Old Milwaukee and Stag.

I mean, we all need some standards. Don't we?

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail

Share This Story