Pabst Blue Ribbon Branches Out and Launches PBR Hard Coffee (Or Hipster Yoo-hoo)

by Rudy Sanchez on 07/12/2019 | 2 Minute Read

Pabst Blue Ribbon is mostly known as the hipster-friendly budget beer, college party fuel (or, uh, Dennis Hopper fuel). But PBR is branching out, with an unexpected beverage —hard coffee.

The hard coffee, technically a malt-based beverage, is made with coffee brewed from a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, “American milk,” and vanilla, sporting 5% alcohol by volume and 30 milligrams of caffeine per can. By contrast, a small iced coffee from Dunkin’ contains about six times that amount of caffeine.

Coffee cocktails aren’t new, nor are malt-beverages mixed with caffeine. In 2010, Phusion Projects, makers of Four Loko, voluntarily removed caffeine from their beverages, following several deaths attributed to binge drinking of Four Loko and threats of regulations effectively banning caffeinated alcoholic drinks. Each can of the fruity turbocharged drink had nearly 3 ounces of alcohol and 156mg of caffeine.

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The 11oz cans sport the iconic blue ribbon on the front, against an alternating swirl of dark and light browns. If anything, it almost looks a little too fancy, but that’s what happens when you swap out the brand’s white backdrop for brown—at least you know which one is the beer. According to some early reviews, the hard coffee tastes like a Frappuccino or Yoo-hoo.

With beer sales in decline, brewers like Sam Adams and AB InBev are diversifying with hard ciders, malt-based cocktail flavors, and hard seltzers; PBR is going in a different direction with a hard iced coffee. It might not be a bad bet, as iced coffee and nitro cold brews have seen a steady rise with ready-to-drink chilled coffee growing at 10% annually since 2013. If people like iced coffee, it’s a safe bet they’ll probably enjoy a slightly boozy version, and if it comes in a PBR can, chances are the beardos will flock to it.

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Interest in pairing coffee with alcohol has also been tested the other way, with Starbucks opening upscale, Reserve stores that also include a full alcoholic bar.

Pabst’s hard coffee is currently only available in Pennsylvania, Maine, New Jersey, Florida, and Georgia, Pabst said via their Twitter account.

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