Many Philly bars have a drink special that is simply known as the “Special”. This special is a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of whiskey. Often time this special can be had for as little as two or three dollars. It is a cheap way to get oneself hammered without drilling a hole in one’s wallet.
Now, those who know me are familiar with my penchant for exotic and extreme beers. I am one of those snobbish individuals who feel beer should provide actual taste along with the alcohol buzz. That is one of the reasons that I rarely drink mainstream beers. When I do, it is usually due to some social type situation where it would be rude to do otherwise.
So now that I wrote the two preceding paragraphs I have to link them together. Millions of people around the world will be shocked to learn that I recently indulged in the “special” at a concert. They will, no doubt, be disturbed to learn that I was not held at gunpoint nor was I doing it to impress a nubile, young female. I did it completely of my own volition.
I ordered “the Special” to the shock and horror of my tablemates. One of these companions became a beer snob because of my corrosive influence. He watched in horror as I consumed this special. Due to my twisted sense of humor, I took great joy in shattering his illusions. I took a couple swigs from the can and then drained the whiskey shot. I am unsure what whiskey was used for this special and perhaps its best that I don’t find out. It surely did nothing beneficial for my internal organs. Having recently read Sacher-Masoch, I found the strength to order two more specials before the night was over.
Now after all this fun, I have to try to evaluate the beer. It’s hard to critique a beer that is very thin in body and extremely light in flavor. It also becomes hard to really criticize because this lack of character and inoffensiveness is exactly what the brewers are gunning for. They want 5% abv water and that is close to what this beer is. It should be served ice cold and drank very quickly. There really is not much to savor.
I actually did pour some of the beer into a glass just so I could examine the hue and aroma of the brew. The very pretty waitress was quite amused at my act. The beer is what you would expect. It has that fizzy, yellowish hue with very minimal malt aroma. I think the aluminum can might provide more actual flavor or aroma than the hops so we won’t need to go there.
As for taste, this is actually not the worst thing in the world. The SAB people are serious in their efforts to bring this beer back. It has enjoyed a bit of trendiness as an alternative to Budweiser or Coors Light. There are many people who don’t really like intense beer flavors but like drinking beer. Since standing around holding a bottle or can of Bud or Coors is about as cool as standing around eating a McDonald’s burger, they need a lightweight alternative. Enter Pabst Blue Ribbon.
There is really not a lot of flavor in this beer. It mostly has a light malt flavor. They may have used a hop or two in brewing this beer. Lab results are not back yet. It is a fairly smooth drinking beer though. It didn’t have any off flavors or any foul type tastes. I’m sure many geeks will jump in and note that a beer must have flavor before it can have off flavors. I’m not that cynical.
This would be a good lawnmower beer. It is wet. But I have to note that the brewers were gunning for exactly what this beer is. They weren’t trying to create fruity esters or have an intense floral hop bouquet. This is a beer equivalent to fast food burgers. It will please many people as long as they are not expecting anything gourmet or exotic. I don’t expect very many beer geeks to enjoy this beer as a drinking experience. It would be a beer to drink if you were planning on inhaling beer and catching a mighty swift buzz. It will appeal to drinkers of mainstream beers if they are willing to put aside their prejudices and give it a fair chance.
As for the generous rating, I’m going to give the beer, I want to offer this explanation. The beer does achieve the results the brewers intended. Therefore, I am rating it upon that basis. It was not as horrible as I expected it to be. It was not a great beer either. I’m not going to recommend it because it is now part of a brewing conglomerate and no longer an independent regional beer. I don’t have to play the save the regional brewery card for this one. Drink it if you must. Drink it if you wish. Just let me close by saying that I didn’t feel all that hunky dory when I woke up the next morning.