August 14th, 2008
I know that many drinkboston readers are not above downing a watery, low-rent beer from time to time, and I’ve seen, first-hand, how many of our area’s top bartenders consistently go for the gusto of a Schlitz, Bud or PBR when their work is done (a.k.a. Miller Time).
Which brings us to the recent high-profile hijacking of America’s own Anheuser-Busch by those Belgian bullies at InBev. Does it matter to you that the all-American brand is now just a piece in the portfolio of some multinational conglomerate? Pabst Blue Ribbon sure thinks it does. Recently, the folks at PBR sent out an e-mail questionnaire asking drinkers if it mattered where their beer was brewed and by whom, all the while subtly suggesting that PBR was the one and only defense against the hordes of sudsy foreign-owned invaders. Kinda silly, if you ask me.
Look, we all know that in the booze world, perception can trump taste, and perception is certainly the driving force behind the lawnmower beer revival. The taste differences between PBR, High Life, Schlitz, ‘Gansett, et al. are small. (Try a blind taste test. I did.) What’s large, however, is brand loyalty, or, in the case of these retro beers, anti-brand loyalty. For example, PBR became an underground hit with hipsters not because of taste but because of stealth marketing, nostalgia, and low, low prices. Oh, the perception that Pabst is some kind of kindly, mom-and-pop operation, unlike Mega-Bud, didn’t hurt either.
Let us know how you feel about all this — that is if you’re brave enough to admit that you drink these beers in the first place.