Pabst Blue Ribbon is Hip?

I was sitting at a very hip bar in a very hip joint the other day speaking with a couple of very hip people. Then one of the hipsters asked the bartender for a couple of “PBR’s”

“PBR,” I thought. That must be the hip new drink. And silly me, I’m sitting here drinking my very unhip oatmeal stout.

Then the bartender handed over two tallboy cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and I almost choked on the stout.

But apparently it is true. Pabst is hip. At least, according to the recently issued Hipster Bingo Card.


  1. #1 Sven DiMilo
    November 18, 2009

    Pabst is hip




  2. #2 hibob
    November 18, 2009

    when a bar (hipster/barfly/Filipino mixed clientele) near me reopened about six years ago, they served tallboys – in brown paper bags – for the hipsters. So this fad is getting a bit long in the tooth. At any rate, the hipster game doesn’t take much money (or high quality alcohol) to play, just access to a good selection of resale shops. And hair dye.

  3. #3 @christackett
    November 18, 2009

    it’s cheap, made in america (though not sure how much this influences the hipness), and has a well-designed can. and there aren’t ads for it on the tv.

    here’s some reading on the marketing genius(?) behind it’s recent resurgence.

  4. #4
    November 18, 2009

    Help Save & Buy Pabst Brewing Company! Go to

  5. #5 TheDailyJokelahoman
    November 18, 2009

    It’s hip here in Florida because it’s cheap as hell and doesn’t taste quite as piss-like as Miller High Life and Natty Light.

  6. #6 Markk
    November 18, 2009

    Growing up in Milwaukee in the 70’s Pabst was a favorite local around here. Then it died. So this is the Zombie Pabst. That is why it is popular.

  7. #7 José
    November 18, 2009

    I was in this upscale bar the other day and two guys bought shots of Stoli Elit with chasers of Tang and Ovaltine.

  8. #8 jj
    November 18, 2009

    Yeah PBR is really big with both hipsters and the rockabilly crews. Part of it is the price. If I’m going to drink piss water, might as well be Pabst, but I’ll take an oatmeal stout (how ’bout a Belgian Trappist or farmfouse ale, I prefer the higher abv)

  9. #9 Jared
    November 18, 2009

    Abita is my beer label of choice…

  10. #10 John McKay
    November 18, 2009

    So… this means that people of Greg’s and my generation who drank Pabst when were in college thirty years ago, because it was cheap and we couldn’t afford anything better, were actually hipper than we thought and a generation ahead of the curve?


  11. #11 JefFlyingV
    November 18, 2009

    PBR is hip? Sounds like retro Palinization of peoples tastes. Might as well bring back Pfeifer or Wiedies. I’m with you Greg, Oatmel Stout is a great brew.

  12. #12 NewEnglandBob
    November 18, 2009

    Sticking with vodka.

  13. #13 T. Bruce McNeely
    November 18, 2009

    Same thing happened in Canada in the 90’s with Carling Black Label. It’s a cheap lager that became the “Hipster Beer” probably because it was cheap and retro. I don’t know its status now, since I don’t drink any more, dammit.

  14. #14 Sivi
    November 18, 2009

    You drink oatmeal stout?

    Suddenly Greg Laden got a whole lot cooler. *raises glass of St-Ambroise stout*

  15. #15 H.H.
    November 19, 2009

    So, Greg, you are quite the traveler. What’s the best beer in the world? My personal favorite is an English beer called Boddingtons ( Imagine the creamy goodness of Guinness but about 12 shades lighter and not as bitter.

  16. #16 Brian X
    November 19, 2009

    My American lager of choice is Narragansett. PBR is for sheep.

  17. #17 Charles Evo
    November 19, 2009

    The local hipsters have been drinking the PBR (Pabst blue ribbon) here in Portland,OR, for years and it’s still disgusting.

    It’s a shame b/c we have such excellent craft brewers here in the Pacific NW.

  18. #18 Tim
    November 19, 2009

    @Jared #8 Abita? Really? Even NOLA beer snobs are disappointed. Of course, I prefer the term beer nerd.

  19. #19 Tim
    November 19, 2009

    PBR is hip, particularly (as jj said) amongst the rockabilly crowd, but my generation has really started to make that the cheap beer of choice in general.

    … but I gotta say, if I have to drink crappy beer I only go for PBR or Old Milwaukee. They’re still crappy, but they have character, which is more than I can say for most of the cheap stuff.

  20. #20 Arikia
    November 19, 2009

    Greg Laden!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is painful to read…… Comments too.

    Oatmeal Stout is good though.

  21. #21 Kevin F.
    November 19, 2009

    I heard that PBR is the BEST SELLING AMERICAN-OWNED beer. Could this be true? I think so! Since Pabst formally closed active brewing it is being operated from an office in Woodridge, IL and contract brewing. Kind of a sham, but still American owned! Tell that to your redneck buddies that send their beer dollars to Belgium, Canada and South Africa!

  22. #22 Joel
    November 19, 2009

    We used to drink PBR all the time. That and Hamm’s beer.

  23. #23 Rob Monkey
    November 19, 2009

    At my friend’s pig roast every year we try to bring ALL the shitty brands we can find. Haven’t had a Black Label in a while, but Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, etc., all make their appearance. As far as it being for hipsters, I think it’s more that hipsters tend to be cheap and have fucking awful taste. There’s nothing funnier to me than people arguing over what tastes best, Milwaukee’s Beast, PBR, Natty, it’s like they have ultra-specialized taste buds for crappy brew. Our newest entry for crap beer here in Michigan? Beer Thirty, it’s about $12 a 30 pack and tastes appropriate to the cost. Incidentally, according to the label, Beer Thirty occurs every 15 minutes 😉

  24. #24 DuWayne
    November 19, 2009

    H.H. –

    Oh hell no, best commercial beer in the world is Le Fine Du Mond, Unibrue’s triple. Unless we can count homebrews – my old roofing boss brews a fucking incredible triple and a Portland friend of mine brews a great oatmeal/amaranth stout. Those two, in my opinion, are the very best beers ever.

  25. #25 MarkW
    November 19, 2009

    H. H.:

    OK, you’ve managed to persuade me to de-activate Lurk mode…

    Sure, Boddington’s is OK, but for really good English beers, look across the Pennines to Yorkshire’s breweries. My personal favourite is Riggwelter from the Black Sheep brewery. ( )

  26. #26 marilove
    November 19, 2009

    Yeah… It’s not hip so much as cheap while still being fairly decent. Not great, but better than Bud Light.

    But hip? LOL

  27. #27 Ted
    November 19, 2009

    I lived near a bar in my youth selling only Pabst next to a small grocery store that sold only Pabst.

  28. #28 Squiddhartha
    November 19, 2009

    A possible factor in PBR’s “hipness”: they’re a huge nationwide sponsor of women’s flat track roller derby — for which I’m personally very grateful. (National championships this past weekend! The league for which I announce came in third!)

  29. #29 Paul D.
    November 19, 2009

    Calling it “Pabst Blue Ribbon” is a give-away that someone has fairly recently discovered it. Calling it “PBR” is the signal of a true hipster. In the old days it was merely “Pabst” and the “Blue Ribbon” bit at the end was a mere subtitle.

  30. #30 Jim!!!
    November 19, 2009

    Aging hipsters around here (twin cities) seem to like Summit and Surly brands.

  31. #31 anonymous
    November 19, 2009

    Hipsters like pabst in part because of the villainous Frank character in David Lynch’s movie Blue Velvet (warning, strong language):

    His emphatic clarity of preference and depraved charm leave a strong impression. College freshmen, in attempts to seem glibly cultured, then “line-drop”, e.g.,

    Unsuspecting straight man: Have a [Beer X]!

    Aspiring hipster: [Beer X]? F*** that s***! Pabst Blue Ribbon!

    Onlookers of a less Lynchian bent take the confident tone and strong language as a sign of validity. Rinse and repeat.

    Combine with a perennial dose of working class nostalgia chic, and the case is closed.

    Word. Been there, done that, circa 1997. 🙂

    (P.S./IMHO: The beer altercation is inentionally cliched and overwrought so as to further establish, through metaphor, the artificiality of the narrative division between the light virtuous world of regular people and the dark insidious underworld. See also the opening montage and closet scene. This theme is in part an extension of or response to film noir sensibility, which genre explored ironies in morality and social class.)

  32. #32 Jim Thomerson
    November 19, 2009

    I like PBR, but I have upgraded to Red Dog. However, it has gone up from $5 to $6 for a gallon (eight 16 oz cans), so I’m not sure my brand loyalty will endure.

  33. #33 TGordon
    November 19, 2009

    I went to a small Midwestern college in central Ill. and my friends’ father worked at the Pabst brewing company. A couple times a year we’d blast up to Milwaukee, and he’d fill the trunk with PBR. Anyone remember PBR’s cheaper (?!) cousin, Red, White and Blue? I remember distinctly one time at the factory looking up at the stainless steel pipes and seeing them split off into two directions. One pipe said “Pabst Blue Ribbon”, and the other said “Red, White & Blue”…same stuff, different label. My first introduction to the power of marketing.

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    November 19, 2009

    Anon: Wow. Nice analysis.

  35. #35 Greg Laden
    November 19, 2009

    Anyone remember PBR’s cheaper (?!) cousin, Red, White and Blue?

    I’ve been in that factory, I’ve seen those pipes, and I remember the price differential.

  36. #36 MattXIV
    November 19, 2009

    Actually, PBR used to be hip back in ’06 or so – now every dumbass hipster drinks it so it’s lost it’s cache. Schiltz and Mickey’s are what the cool kids are drinking now in these parts. It’s largely the low price and packaging art that cause them to sell – the taste isn’t as important as how the can looks when you’re holding it.

  37. #37 JefFlyingV
    November 19, 2009

    Greg, I remember Red White and Blue, Billy Beer and the ultrageneric green label “beer”. Didn’t Billy Beer end up in a shampoo at that time after the general no sales that occurred?

  38. #38 Sven DiMilo
    November 19, 2009

    Schiltz and Mickey’s are what the cool kids are drinking now in these parts.

    *rolls eyes* I used to have a taste for Stroh’s (quart bottles, please) when it was still brewed in Detroit, but Schlitz?
    The really cheap beer of my mis-spent youth, though, was Falstaff. It came in stubby little 11-oz. bottles (so a 12-pack was only 11 standard beers, clever eh?) and had rebus puzzles on the inside of the caps. There was one we never solved.
    How about Schmidt’s of Philadelphia?
    But all that said, the king of cheap, crappy, American lagers is, always has been, and always will be the mighty mighty Iron City Beer.

  39. #39 JefFlyingV
    November 19, 2009

    I remember both Schmidt’s and Stroh’s when the brewers had some integrity of a good product.

  40. #40 jj
    November 19, 2009

    Of course, if you are really a beer snob, then you should just brew your own:
    DISCLAIMER: I only point this link out because I am a partial owner of said company

  41. #41 Joel
    November 19, 2009

    Calling it “PBR” is the signal of a true hipster. In the old days it was merely “Pabst” and the “Blue Ribbon” bit at the end was a mere subtitle.

    I can’t remember the last time I drank a PBR, in the neighborhood of 20 years or so, we called it PBR back then…

  42. #42 Greg Laden
    November 19, 2009

    Joel, maybe this is a regional thing. In NY/New England it was just “Pabst”

    Of course 20 years ago I was only drinking Primus.

  43. #43 BruceH
    November 19, 2009

    Not so regional, Greg. Down here in Texas we generally call it Pabst, or PBR. Nobody says “Pabst Blue Ribbon”. I’ll drink it occasionally, but when I’m drinking cheap beer, I generally go for a regional called Lone Star which is now owned, coincidentally, by the Pabst Brewing Company. It’s still made and sold only in Texas, though.

    Pabst seems to have tried to remain relevant by buying up regional brands across the country; a strategy that has worked to some extent.

    I have to admit, I drink it mostly because it’s cheap and has more flavor (read: hops) than Bud or Miller. Whether it’s a good flavor can be debated. Neither Pabst nor Lone Star are anything close to what I would describe as a quality lager.

  44. #44 katydid13
    November 19, 2009

    There was a keg of Pabst at my aunt and uncle’s big 50th Wedding Anniversary party a couple years ago. That alone should disqualify it from being hip. My dad and his brothers have some kind of attachment to Pabst because they worked summers in college at the Pabst plant in Milwaukee.

    Does this mean that in another 15 years Pig’s Eye will be hip? It was the beer of choice of poor college students in Northfield in the 90s.

  45. #45 MPL
    November 19, 2009

    Who knows when it’ll run its course. Getting on the subway home from [university] tonight, I saw a bunch of students drinking Pabst on a bench in the station (thirsty Thursday, I guess).

  46. #46 mark
    November 20, 2009

    PBR was hip 30 years ago.
    Earlier, one hip beer was “Bucky” (Buckhorn)–often on sale for 79 cents per sixpack.

  47. #47 Erin R
    November 21, 2009

    PBR became big among the 06 hipsters because it was cheap and retro. Not only are you wearing a plaid shirt from the 70s, you’re drinking from a 70s beer, too! Of course, most hipsters today have trust funds and buy their plaid for $50 at Urban Outfitters instead of $5 at the Salvation Army, so cheap clearly isn’t the reason any more. Hipsters, however, have recently become connoisseurs of the ironic. Hence the ironic mustaches, ironic ugly hats, and ironic obsession with kazoos. And there are few things more ironic (except for, perhaps, the ever present index finge mustache tattoo) than drinking a cheap beer you know is crap, and your parents knew was crap, when you can afford better. I guarantee, half of the people drinking PBR on college campuses do it because they hink it’s hilarious. Personally, no amount of humor will ever be able to make me replace my Rogue Brewery Dead Guy Ale.

  48. #48 llewelly
    November 23, 2009

    Pabst is the most boring beer on earth. It has a flavor so boring it must have been engineered to make water seem flavorful by comparison. It is the Startbucks of beer, except that it is dirt cheap.

  49. #49 Chris Barry
    September 11, 2010

    Pabst is dog piss, but originally hipsters dug it because of that scene with Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. That joke wore off fast, but Pabst was ALL over the early issues of Vice Magazine when it switched out of Montreal. Vice did a lot to shape the look of hipster culture. I dare you to count how many pabsts were in Vice between 1999-2005.

    Hipster culture will be dead in about 2 yrs max.

  50. #50 Steven
    December 17, 2010

    Every time I see a six pack of PBR, I feel HOPE ( and look forward to enjoying the PROGRESS ( with good friends.