Beer Review 0437: Pabst Blue Ribbon Adjunct Lager

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Editor’s note: Yes folks, do not adjust your sets. Today, we’ll be reviewing five different American adjunct lagers — while we normally focus on artisan beers, these beers deserve to be looked at, too. I’m not doing this as any sort of novelty — I’m actually reviewing the beers, so here’s an honest take at some of the beers that would normally get laughed at.

Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) is contract brewed by Miller Brewing Company (MillerCoors) in six different facilities in the United States. Introduced in 1844, PBR apparently won an award at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Yeah, we’re not sure about that one, either… and apparently, neither are they. It was named “America’s Best” although it never actually earned a blue ribbon. Previously, the beer was called “Best Select,” and for a time, “Pabst Select.” The company actually tied blue ribbons around the bottle necks until 1916.

After a banner year of selling 18 million barrels in 1977, sales of Pabst sharply tapered off, dipping below a million barrels in 2001. But the brand is seeing a resurgence of late, and is currently the 14th best selling beer in the United States. PBR comes in at 4.74% ABV (alcohol by volume) and contains 153 calories per 12 oz. serving.

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PBR pours an average size head that quickly diminishes. The head was soapy in texture, and not as fizzy as other Adjunct Lagers. Color on this one was pale straw yellow, with a — you guessed it — clear body, and no particles or sediment. Lacing was pretty good, leaving behind several sticky sheets.

The nose features a combination of biscuit, grassy, and grainy malt that combine with herbal and lemon hops. This almost reminded me of some sort of tea, had the grain not been as prevalent. Honestly, it’s not bad, but it still is clean, light, and very typical beery.

The taste follows the nose, especially with the grain content, but the hops, and yes there are some very mild, timid hops here — are more on the grapefruit and pine end. I definitely detect a pine flavor in the middle of the mouth and after I finished tasting and clicked my tongue to the roof of my mouth. I also got cornmeal in the middle, so go figure. That being said, it still finishes clean and disappointing, leaving behind just a general wheat/grain flavor. PBR is light-bodied, with a thin but creamy mouthfeel. There’s a bit of body to this beer, believe it or not.

What we have here is an easy drinking beer, typical of the style but with the flavor turned up to three on a scale of ten. They call it “the premium beer at a popular price” and I can see that — if you’re low on your dollars and want some suds, this is an option to consider, especially over the other guys.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Adjunct Lager, 62 points. Price: $1.79 US for one 24 oz. can.

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