PabstBlue Ribbon Beer is a Midwestern staple. Founded in the bustling town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1844, PBR has stood the test of time and is synonymous with American brewing. PBR’s “Blue Ribbon” was earned when it won a gold medal during the World’s Fair and Columbian Exposition in 1893, solidifying its place in American beer history as the stuff of legends. While I could go on and on about PBR’s history, its innovative creation of the “Tall boy” can and the amazing names such as Shlitz and Old Style that have grown from its breweries, my story of PBR is more close to home. That is to say, you can almost always count on finding it in my home.
As a college student, a musician, and a Chicagoan, PBR has many attractive qualities to me. It’s a cheap beer that can be found in almost any liquor store and it doesn’t taste like it was brewed from the scrapings of a factory floor. I find it to be quite tasty, although I know there are those who would disagree. For me it’s a taste that is familiar, refreshing, and timeless.
In my short span of exploring the great world of beer, I have learned that I can always count on PBR. Whenever I’m tired or indecisive, it’s always there, the perfect 6-pack of glistening Tall Boys individually wrapped in metallic blue ribbons. More times than I can count I have found myself suddenly entertaining a rowdy bunch of thirsty friends and ended up grabbing a 30 rack of PBR to carry home in my arms like it were my big boxy infant. Each and every time, it’s turned into a great night with great friends. I dare not think of the numerous floorboards we’ve strained, stained, and danced on. Somewhere, the floorboard gods look down on my friends and I with disgust and disdain.
Summer time is great for PBR as well. When it’s summer and my days are care-free, PBR can be found in a bucket of ice on my back porch while a guitar or two are being strummed in some aimless melody leading to nowhere in particular. Where’s there to go when we’ve got all we need right here?
I was lucky to be blessed with a roommate who has shared in my familiarity with PBR. My roommate Abby, comrade Zach and I once dedicated an entire day watching Tom Hanks films while we tried to find the best PBR bottle caps to make a card deck out of. We also had the profoundly modest idea of inviting over 100 of our closest friends to our apartment for a party featuring 4 live bands, including our own. PBR was there to keep our guests happy and our show a success. Together we’ve danced, cheered, and conquered the night with PBR, much to the discontent of several neighbors, a few members of the CPD, and countless unfulfilled obligations the next morning.
Although the days of awarding Pabst golden medals for taste and innovation have long since past, I still would give PBR a blue ribbon for being PB”Our”. It feels like our beer, the beer for the end of a long day, a music-filled afternoon on the back porch, or a night of restless youth and debauchery. Here’s to you, PBR; you were there on my 21st birthday, and you’ve been there for many $5 beer-and-a-shots since. You keep my friends living wildly, and sweet home Chicago feeling like home. Cheers.