In this time when craft beer is king, there are still mass-market brands with loyal audiences. Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), established in 1844, is one of those brands. Its beer is iconic, more often referred to by its initials and pronounced “Pee-ber” by those who have consumed a few too many tallboys.
However, it seems as if the folks at PBR are taking the “liquor is quicker” sentiment to heart. In March, news broke that Pabst Blue Ribbon would be launching a brand-new product: whiskey. The news was a surprise for this venerable brand, especially when the label lauded that its spirit was aged for “5 seconds.”
That’s not a typo.
Note: Most American “straight” whiskeys—those distilled to no more than 80 percent ABV and aged in new charred oak barrels—are aged for at least two years. Moonshine, on the other hand, is not aged at all. But Matt Bruhn, general manager at Pabst Blue Ribbon, didn’t want to sell moonshine.
“We wanted to launch this as a whiskey, because that’s what it is,” Bruhn said in an interview with Esquire. “But the TTB wouldn’t approve it, because it’s un-aged, right? You’ve got to call it a moonshine. I’m not calling it moonshine; it is not that, it is a crafted whiskey. They’re like, ‘You need to age it.’ I go, ‘For how long?’ And they went, ‘No determined amount of time. If it touches wood, it’s a whiskey.’”
“We literally aged it in a barrel for five seconds so we have the ability to call it what it is, which is whiskey.”
The resulting Pabst Blue Ribbon Whiskey (which has a mash bill of 52 percent corn, 27 percent malted barley, 17 percent wheat, and 4 percent rye) pours at 80 proof and 40 percent ABV. And the first U.S. city to get it? Denver.
At a launch party at Recreative Gallery a couple of weeks ago, a testosterone-charged, tattooed crowd sipped on PBR whiskey cocktails and noshed on donuts infused with PBR whiskey from Habit Doughnuts.
Reviews were generally positive—after all, PBR’s whiskey is quite smooth with an unoffensive flavor. Used as the base for a drink that’s heavy on citrus, it even makes an excellent spirit for cocktails. But before you start dreaming of the ultimate boilermaker, be forewarned: It’s definitely a mixing whiskey, not a sipping one.
Pabst Blue Ribbon Whiskey is now available for purchase at 34 different liquor stores and bars around the state; prices start at $25.99. Discussions are also in the works for Habit Doughnuts add a PBR whiskey-infused doughnut on its menu. Go to PBR’s website to find the purveyor closest to you.