2.9AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 11/20
There are some beers whose reputation is so bad that even Joe Six Pack types who only drink "The
Big Three" will mock them - the most famous being Pabst Blue Ribbon. It’s a beer everyone has been told is among the bottom of the barrel, but few beer drinkers I know have ever actually tried it. So I decided to sit down and give it a fair shake to see what all the hubbub is about. I even grilled some brats simmered in PBR and drank the beer with it to get the real tailgating experience this brew is often associated with. I was pleasantly surprised at just how offensive this beer was not, but truth be told it’s far from a good beer.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
I poured a 12oz can into a pint glass. Not surprisingly, this beer pours to a crystal-clear shade of straw gold with some bubbles at first although it quickly dies down. It does generate a somewhat fluffy, bright-white, soapy head, but it dissipates down to a tiny layer of suds rather fast.
There isn’t much aroma to speak of. Adjunct macro lagers, and especially "economy" versions like this are often off-putting or straight-up foul in the nose, but PBR is rather neutral. It’s that generic "beer smell" but milder. I detect a touch of metal and corn, but these notes are light enough to tolerate.
Beer snobs like to mock adjunct macro lagers and especially the "lights" for tasting putrid, but I find them more often than not to be bland as is the case with Pabst Blue Ribbon. In a blind taste test I’m not sure I could distinguish between this beer and Coors, Miller or Bud lights.
Up front it’s very watery, thin, and bland - which makes it surprisingly refreshing. As it finishes there is an odd flavor combination of cereal grain sweetness and a touch of tin or aluminum. I’ve had this beer on tap and in the bottle and noticed these flavors as well, so it’s clearly not the can. Don’t get me wrong, these are definitely not appealing flavors. In fact, if this beer is consumed warm they become off-putting, but drank cold it’s tolerable at best.
With its flat, bland body and noticeable wateriness, PBR is actually a highly drinkable beer. The palate here really doesn’t satisfy, but it does work well as a thirst-quencher on a hot day or when accompanying some ball park-style foods or during similar situations. I was surprised how well it paired with beer brats and could envision beer drinkers of virtually all calibers slugging it down at a BBQ or picnic.
At 4.74% ABV, this truly is a sessionable beer. The only problem is I think the lack of taste will begin to wear on the average drinker’s palate after two or three servings.
Every time I see a bottle or can of Pabst Blue Ribbon I have to chuckle at the fact the brewery boasts that it was selected as "America’s Best in 1893." Is this a joke or are they really trying to brag about this? Either way, when you drink PBR it’s kind of like time-traveling to the days of the Grover Cleveland administration (the first one), since the recipe probably hasn’t changed since then.
Read and watch my 2014 re-review here: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2014/02/pabst-blue-ribbon-2014-re-review.html