Pabst Blue Ribbon: It's Not Just For Hipsters Anymore, And Never Was

I've only blocked a couple of people on Twitter, because the Internet has generally deemed me unworthy of harassment, but if I were a more prominent person or dealt with a more controversial subject, I would toss motherfuckers overboard by the dozen. I do not interpret the First Amendment as guaranteeing every last soul's right to interact with anyone of his or her choosing at any time and via any medium. I'm okay with letting dissenters express their opinions—even the really dumb ones—but that doesn't mean I have to listen, much less respond.

But, like I said, I write about beer and M&Ms, so my online interactions are mostly pleasant or at least benign. The last guy I blocked, though, was some stark raving mad beer blogger who was incensed at me for … something. I can't remember. Probably my position on Yuengling or Gaza. At any rate, the crux of his argument was that I was surely a "PBR-drinking hipster."

It amazes me that such a nothing-ass beer has become so polarizing, and for such a petty and poorly delineated reason. I think reasonable people have long since accepted that "hipster" has been rendered just about meaningless, other than as a counterpoint to "bro/basic," as these have risen above the thoroughly neutered "geek" to become the two major categories into which we divide humans and the chunks of culture they choose to either produce or consume.

"Hipster" still has some evocative power—unlike "geek," which now just refers to a person who likes a thing—in that it still brings a certain image to mind, but that meaning sheds a little more weight every time the word is used disdainfully (and defensively) to mean "pertaining to a person, style, or apparently even a fucking can of beer that represents a part of the larger culture to which I am not certain I belong, and which I therefore feel threatened by."

I'm not very interested in the concept of coolness: I am on the apparently uncool side of yesterday's should-men-wear-shorts fiasco, and wouldn't dream of advocating for the hipness of short pants. But I do think we've got to take the edge off the debate over What It Means to Drink Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Here's what it means: It means you're broke, or at least trying to be thrifty. Nothing more or less than that. Do PBR's fervent opponents realize that it is quite often the least expensive item in the beer aisle? Or that its taste differs very little different from that of, say, Budweiser? I like it, as cheap, yellow swill goes. I prefer Schlitz (because it's more fun to say and conjures positive memories) and Narragansett (because it's slightly better and more local). But I drink PBR at least once a month. Often while wearing shorts.

The other night, I got a 40-ounce of the stuff to spike with bitters and lemonade while I made dinner. It was $2.85 very pleasantly spent. And I'll take it straight any time it's available when my taste buds or beer budget are shot. If you never resort to this class of beer, then you have nothing to fear, because you'll never find yourself in a situation where you feel the silly need to ponder what your choice of shitty beer says about you. But let's say you're a regular person. In that case, rest assured that you may safely sneak a can of PBR without having your worldview altered. The first sip will not suddenly cause all of your shorts' extraneous pockets to reconfigure themselves into full-length pant legs. You'll be you, you'll be fine.

It's just beer.


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Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and has visited all of the other New England states, including, come to think of it, Vermont. Find him on Twitter@WillGordonAgain. Image by Jim Cooke.

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