Shite and Onions: Pabst Blue Fuckin’ Ribbon

August 15, 2012

The favorite beer of both hipsters* and Frank Booth, and I do not doubt there is a link between the two, sucks. It smells like corn. It tastes like watery corn, sweetly bland. It is very fizzy. When ice cold, it is completely flavorless. It clocks in at under 5% ABV, yet gave me a headache halfway through the can. Beyond the iconic logo, it has no redeeming qualities.

I understand why Frank Booth drank it. He was a psychopath, so a refined beer palate was beyond his ken, but what is the hipster attraction? Is it ironic in some way that escapes me? Do they drink Pabst because Grandpa drank it? Does drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon show solidarity with the oppressed working class peoples of the hinterlands? Why drink it? What is the attraction? Make your case.

Why? That is a serious question if you drink Pabst Blue Ribbon: Why do you drink it?

*I am adopting Beer Samizdat’s description of ‘Hipsters’ as my own:

For those not familiar with The Mission, it’s one of the two main “loci” for the much-maligned “hipster”, along with Williamsburg in Brooklyn. It’s where you’ll find handlebar mustaches, brand-new but already “worn” t-shirts with Archie on them riding up to a guy’s belly button, thousands of bikes, artisanal coffee, women with enormous sunglasses on and the perfect Zoe Deschanel bangs to go with big puffy hippie-girl dresses; and so on.

I will add a few minor details to that description: Those bikes are all fixed gear bikes, because hipsters like having an organic union between the road and their ride as they pedal; The bikes all have woven baskets hanging from the handlebars, the better to carry their dogeared copy of Tropic of Cancer to the Farmer’s Market; The artisanal coffee comes in either oversized cups or these paper cups, because those cups are ironic or some such crap; The coffee shops are filled with the clatter of manual typewriters; and the hipster guys are lacking any sort of musculature whatsoever (Has there ever been a better description than “birthday candle armed”?

Brooklyn Black Ops

April 26, 2012

I’d make some ‘Black Ops’ crack about securing this bottle in a Mission Impossible style raid, complete with scuba diving, spelunking, skydiving, and jaywalking, but the truth is that GEB called me a few weeks before Christmas to say she was in a beer store and they had some Brooklyn Black Ops and should she get some for her Dad for Christmas and I shouted “YES! OH! GOD! FOR THE LOVE ALL THAT IS HOLY! GOD! YES!” She somehow got the impression that I was a tad excited that Black Ops had made it down to Texas so she grabbed me a bottle as well.

According to the label, this is a Russian Imperial Stout which was aged in bourbon barrels for several months. It was bottled flat and refermented in the bottle using champagne yeast. The vanilla and oak aroma from the bourbon barrel is immediately apparent. The aroma is almost overwhelming, but the flavors are surprisingly muted, with some chocolate and coffee as well. It has a light and crisp mouthfeel which I attribute to the champagne yeast refermentation. This has over 11% ABV but there is no alcohol burn at all. The Black Ops is what a Black Velvet should taste like. The only downside to this beer is that GEB did not get me more than one bottle, but  I am glad she got me the one, 9/10.

Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

March 8, 2012

When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey, Brooklyn was always a Borough Too Far. My dad worked in Manhattan (he even had an office in the Empire State Building for a few years) so I went to the ‘City’ (as we called it) every so often, and when I got older, it was always Manhattan I went to for record buying or weed scoring expeditions. Bronx is the home of the Yankees and Queens is the home of the Mets, and as my grandfather was a big baseball fan, he’d take me to those boroughs to see games. Even lowly Staten Island got a visit now and then via a trip on the Staten Island Ferry (Still the best tourist bargain in America. How can you beat a free boat ride through New York Harbor?). But Brooklyn was the one borough I never really visited. There were no baseball teams, the Dodgers having left for Los Angeles long before I was born. My dad did not work there. The Ferry did not go there. And while I am sure I could have scored some sweet records and good weed in Brooklyn, I had to pass through Manhattan to get there, where I could score the same, so why bother?

Consequently, I never got to know Brooklyn well, and even in recent years, when Brooklyn became the epicenter of hipster culture, making the formerly decrepit neighborhoods of the borough must visit places if you wanted to see certain bands, I tried to limit my time there. I found it too easy to end up in the wrong neighborhood, and just never felt as comfortable there as I did in Manhattan. I tried to remedy that by taking a few bike tours around Brooklyn with the Vinman, but  we got hopelessly lost each time, which confirmed my impulse to avoid the borough.

I may avoid going to Brooklyn, but I don’t avoid the beers from Brooklyn Brewery. (Holy Cow, that transition was smoooooooooooooth!) Brooklyn Brewing is one of the more consistent brewers out there, always turning out quality beers. The East India Pale Ale is no exception to that rule. Sweet maltiness is offset by a mild and pleasant bitterness and a crisp, clean and dry finish. This is not a hop bomb IPA, but is a well rounded, refreshing, and easy drinking beer, 7/10.

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