We need to get on this.
Reuters reports: “Veteran food industry investor C. Dean Metropoulos is seeking a new owner for Pabst Brewing Co, best known for blue collar-turned-hipster favorite Pabst Blue Ribbon label, people familiar with the matter said.” As an alternative, it’s even considering an IPO.
This is the same veteran food industry investor C. Dean Metropoulos who gave us back the Twinkie when all hope seemed lost. And now he wants to sell.
Why do we love PBR? How could we not? It’s cheap, it’s always there, and it’s alcoholic, but not TOO alcoholic. That sounds to me like exactly the prerequisites for love.
Broadly speaking there are two kinds of beer: the kind you drink like wine, saying, “Oh, yes, I can taste a hint of the oak cask, and I’ve heard wonderful things about this brewer” and the kind you drink like beer, saying, “Aw, looks like your pingpong ball landed in my plastic cup.”
PBR falls squarely in the latter category. Why do we drink it? Because, as Edmund Hillary said, it is there. That is the best and worst that can be said about it. It’s the drink of choice for people who like any evening of carousing to involve lots of visits to the bathroom.
PBR is great. It’s cheap. It tastes like a dirty ping-pong ball just fell into it even when a dirty ping-pong ball didn’t. It tastes like morning breath. It tastes like cardboard with B. O. If someone says he actually likes the way PBR tastes, you should check and make certain something is not the matter with his sense of smell. But it has never striven to be anything other than what it is. None of the Domino’s-style televised self-flagellation, where you try to turn over a new branding leaf by apologizing to everyone you’ve wronged over the years — “Yes, we are aware that our beverage tastes like stale old-man tears.” None of that. It is what it is.
And there’s actually a science to this. The New York Times, in 2003, as PBR began to establish its position as a hipster fixture, did a long feature on the non-marketing marketing of PBR that revealed it to be the hipster of beers: “For P.B.R. it was clearly important to at least appear to be doing as little as possible.” That’s hipsterdom in a nutshell: try as hard as you can to look like you aren’t trying at all. The Times went on: “This is one reason that a traditional response to the discovery that ”alternative people” were buying the beer in Portland — taking out ads on local alt-rock stations — was nixed. It’s one reason that when Kid Rock’s lawyer came sniffing around to work an endorsement deal, Pabst said no. It’s one reason that the company has passed on the chance to back a major snowboarding event or to sponsor an extreme athlete. It’s one reason that even upbeat five-year plans for where the brand may go envision no television advertising at all.”
Let Budweiser proclaim itself the King of Beers. (Oh yeah? Who
elected you appointed you by divine right?) Let Coors point out that you can tell when the beer is cold because the mountain on the can will turn blue, in case maybe you don’t have hands or you have some kind of other condition that prevents you from actually touching your beer before you drink it. Let the Dos Equis guy be the Dos Equis guy. PBR keg-stands alone. We don’t care how it tastes, as long as it’s not TRYING. Hipsterdom is all about the mortification of the flesh. You have to suffer to be grating.
So it’s time to put our beer money where our beer mouth is. Let’s rise up and buy it. We branded it, after all. Why not own it too? Get a Kickstarter going, as @sparksjls suggested on Twitter. We can transform it into a craft, cottage industry of pros who carefully cultivate that distinctive water-gone-bad taste.
Or give us that IPO, and we can get rich ironically by drinking beer ironically. It’s not more improbable than the rise of the beer in the first place.