Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack) is one of my favourite beer writers, passionate, no nonsense, both gravely and grave in tone and a proselytiser for Philadelphia, which he claims is the best beer place in the US (having not been there I will leave it for others to debate). After reading his piece on retro beers in All About Beer in 2008 (see here) I just knew he had to do Pabst Blue Ribbon for 1001 Beers, the favourite beer of Frank in Blue Velvet. And then last year I was in a bar in Rutland VT and amongst the hordes of taps was one for PBR. I was tempted but instead plumped for Magic Hat’s #9 and then Otter Creek’s Summer Ale. I bottled it. So when I got send a couple of bottles the other week I thought it was about time I tried this blue collar brew. First thoughts were its paleness, as if the lightest malt you could kiln had been used (or was that just the adjuncts?). In the glass it’s limpid, rather like the surface of a slow moving, sluggish river, with a few bubbles rising to the top, fish hanging around below; perhaps the Waverley in Suffolk, where Roger Deakin was wont to swim, or a mill pond or mere. Bubbles rising steadily to this limpid, still surface; does it make you want to dive in, be enveloped in a blanket like embrace? Not really. A clean nose and then some bitter lemon notes. The sharp carbonic bite on the back of the throat is reminiscent of coke or lemonade, though nowhere as sweet (do the success of such beers appeal to those with an infantile taste, who crave a return to the innocent pleasures of childhood — I only ask having watched with amusement the reactions of an eight-year-old boy to tortilla yesterday). After time spent in the fridge I guess that the attraction of PBR is that it is a beer to be drunk at a certain occasion — perhaps after a run or a few games of squash when you want something to spike up your palate, though I have found Fuller’s Discovery one of the best thirst-quenching beers about. Or maybe you want to wind up your craft beer buddies, in the same way a copy of Hustler will wind up others — again the inner infant to the fore. The boiled lemon notes swell as the beer warms. It doesn’t as much float my boat of beer as sink it — in that sluggish, slow-moving river in the depths of which lord knows what waits.
#Oh and I know I use a pic of a can but it’s available in glass bottles in the UK.