Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Return of PBR

       I was in a bar in Florida called "The Blur" that I should really have been throw out of for being "over-aged." What caught my attention was a calendar of upcoming events that I was able to read thanks to illumination by pulsating strobe lights. Among the posters of upcoming bands (all featured  tattoed, neon-colored hair rockers) was a mention that thursday night was to be "PBR Night."
My buddy from college and I thought we might be right at home here on a thursday night. Pabst Blue Ribbon was a staple of our diet in college. My son, who was with us, suggested that the beer's followers may have changed a bit since the sixties.
     The origin of PBR goes back to the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 when the brew supposedly won the blue ribbon for being voted "America's Best" by judges at that time. Before the Fair it was known as Pabst Select. With its new fame, it was proudly renamed Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and sold well in the new century reaching its peak in 1977 when it sold 18 million barrels. Its popularity declined in the 80's and 90's as microbrews and import-sipping beer snobs influenced the market. By 2001, the PBR brand was selling less than a million barrels a year.
     The brand might have been had headed for extinction had it not been for the perversity of American youth. PBR was featured on "South Park" as the prime catalyst for domestic violence among the show's white trash fan base. With favorable publicity like this, PBR bagan making comeback. Now it has counter-culture credentials among hip urban youth and is doing quite well.  Go figure.

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