Ah, the American macrobrew. Guzzled by millions, reviled by snobs. Who's right in the epic and never-ending battle between the thirsty masses and the insufferable, effete, snot-nose little shits who demand to know how many International Bitterness Units a hop infusion has imparted into their $18.99 six pack? I used to count myself in the latter camp, but not wholly. Bad beer, I was taught, is better than no beer at all. So very true (except when it comes to the scourge of light and low carb beers, which should be wiped from the face of the planet!). Still, I regret to say that all too often I turned my nose up at a perfectly drinkable Budweiser. These days I'll quaff a Miller Genuine Draft without thinking twice.
This brings us to the beer in question. Founded in 1844 (when it was actually made in Milwaukee and it was known as Best Lager), Pabst Blue Ribbon is unquestionably one of the seminal American beers, and I had been craving a PBR ever since watching Walt Kowalski spew racial epithets while draining case after case of the stuff in Gran Torino. For my own similar experience I figured I would need 3 things:
1) Pabst - check!
2) A cooler - check!
3) Asian neighbors
Two out of three ain't bad. So I'll have to forego the bigotry this time and crack open a can. And let me make this perfectly clear, in case there's any lingering questions from my last post. I LOVE beer in cans. If I had it my way, more premium beers would come in cans. There's just something about a frosty-cold cylinder of aluminum that can't be duplicated with glass. The late John Updike once wrote a short essay pining for the days before the 'inane gadgetry' of pull tabs, when beers required two perforations with an opener. You know what? He was right. Novelists usually are.
But I'll forgive this can of Pabst for its failings and pull the tab anyway. I take a whiff. How can one describe the bouquet of a Pabst? What else can I say except that a Pabst smells like beer? Good old, reliable, divine, run of the mill, American beer.
I refuse to do anything to do anything outside of drinking straight from the can, (which is pretty shamelessly imitative of a Budweiser, by the way) and so I can only go with the presumption that PBR is pale, yellow and fizzy.
The remarkable thing about a mass produced lager is how smooth and mellow and easy to drink it can be. I used to consider those qualities negative. No longer! Taking a sip is a virtual impossibility, and I find that, each time I raise the PBR to my lips, at least three gulps go down, and soon I'm reaching into the cooler for a second can, a third. The taste is minimally hoppy--very slight floral notes, and then a pretty decent dose of barley malt. But listen to me talking like an asshole. PBR is great! That's all you need to know. It's crisp. Refreshing. Exactly what I'd crave if I was mowing the lawn right now, or watching the Indians beat the Baltimore Orioles on Andy Marte's clutch, ninth inning two-run home run, or berating some Asian neighbors for standing on my lawn.
So, beer snobs, I say to you: stop being so pretentious. Of course there are better beers in the world. And yes it's annoying that hipsters and indie kids are into PBR. But this stuff tastes good, makes you feel good, is cheap and unassuming. Hey, if it's good enough for Clint Eastwood, it's good enough for you.
Official McBone Rating: 3.5 McBones.