Somewhere in Wisconsin—right now—two mustachioed, horn-rimmed glasses wearing, scrawny-assed, flannelled, coke-smoking-girlfriend-having, fashionably pessimistic allium-sensitivists-by-choice are arguing about the merits of Brutalism.
They might be at odds about the artistic profoundness of Radiohead’s Kid A.
Maybe they disagree about what Fellini’s 8½ really meant.
Perhaps they differ on whether a perfect Americano is best served water first, then coffee, or vice versa.
Hell, let’s assume they both are at some nondescript café in Madison, where one is a transplant from Portland who moved there once the city became too “crowded,” and the other is a self-professed “alternative entrepreneur” who maybe has an ironic art gallery in the basement of an apartment, on which he’s two months behind rent, featuring Instagrammed photos in physical form expanded upon large sheets of canvas for the hell of it, and still assumes—no proclaims— Wolf Parade’s Expo 86 to be one of the most underrated albums of the new millennium.
Whether, however, it’s Bauhaus or Bukowski, these two can agree on one thing. These two, no matter how set in their ways they are—no matter how rankled and dismissive they may be, no matter how twisted in a bunch their testes may be, you ask them what the best fucking beer in the world is?
Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer is the flagship brew of the Pabst Brewing Company. It’s an American Adjunct Lager whose ABV hovers in the high 4% range. With a history going back to the antebellum years of America, this beer has a reputation for its stern eye– its glaring criticism for the gilded aged pomposity of fatcatism and obscene wealth. This is a beer for the laborer–the proletarius— but don’t call him that or he (or she, let’s be fair) will kick your fucking ass. Despite this fact, or perhaps because of this fact, the like of the aforementioned skinny-jeaned duo worship this beer.
…and I’ll tell you I have
But here, I’ll try to find out.
Maybe it’s the remarkably clear golden, straw-like shimmer of the beer in the glass whose bubbles stream from all sides upwards to the surface. Maybe it’s the cotton-white head that recedes faster than their hairlines. Maybe it’s the girth of the brew (did I mention I could only find cans no less than 24 ounces a pop?). No, perhaps it’s the sulfuric, rotten aroma of the fine Pilsner beer. I think it possibly could be the strange Concord grape-like scent of the uniquely German hops that pops through, most akin to Welch’s juice concentrate that’s sat out on the counter for a week.
It’s that kind of aroma that brings you back to those halcyon days of young unemployment. The warm, yet crisp summer air whipping at your nose, you run in a drunken haze through the city seeking sin and affirmation in a way towards which Hunter S. Thompson would look only askance.
Or, it could be the lingering corn and toasted cereal that teases your nostrils upon each mouthful.
I think these fellows may like the taste the best. Who else could love the taste of stale Kix and Rice Krispies with subtle hints of Noble hops? Who else could appreciate the mocking way it tastes like the communion wafers you remember as a kid? I mean, really, the backend tastes just like paper. It tastes just like white, 8.5 by 11 inch paper. It’s grainy and bleached, and believe me—as a person who’s eaten a shit-ton of paper as a little boy, it tastes like, who else, but W.B. Mason.
I cannot truly slander these anal-retentive hipsters, though. I, who has been unjustifiably maligned as such in my day, can also appreciate the time and place of a “good” PBR– even from the can. As with many unsavory sexual encounters, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer is better “enjoyed” in the dark.
…of concerts, that is.
It’s a beer that suits a function; it’s a beer that carries a conversation along—not the conversation itself. It’s the lanky, unassuming friend that has your back when you’re all alone in a crowded bar. And yet, while it may be an sardonic reminder that this beer of the working class—our back-breaking grandparents—is now most often enjoyed by the disaffected, eternally-scoffing, upward-taped eyebrows of our generation, it’s still honest, and it’s still better than Milwaukee’s Best.
That being said, it tastes like fart, and it should be drank to get drunk.
Unglamorous, yes, but I won’t bedazzle you with some fanciful coda to this review.
I’m going to bed.
I love you.
*6.5 out of 10*