PBR in Portland

On Sunday the Oregonian ran an article called The Pabst and the present, where the author tries to get to the bottom of the surge in popularity of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer in Portland.

Neal Stewart, the marketing director for Pabst, said the Portland phenomenon had perplexed the folks at Pabst as well. In 2000-01, they noticed that Portland sales of PBR were growing, without any marketing or explanation. "It just started skyrocketing." So Stewart, who had only recently started at Pabst, hopped on a plane and flew to Portland to try to figure it out.

What he quickly found were a lot of young adults drinking PBR. And they all seemed to be in some kind of subculture, from skateboarders and artists to Vespa-scooter owners and musicians. "They were very passionate about their subculture and very passionate about Pabst."

Then Andy over at Rooftop Brew has a post responding to this:

Cheap? A $2 pint for PBR is not a good deal. Considering that among the many excellent establishments in Portland you can routinely find specials for $2.50 for an Imperial Pint of a local brew, the PBR pales in comparison – not only in price, but also in quality, karma, coolness.

Both are good reads. Personally, I like Pabst. Of the various megabrewery cheap lagers, I think it tastes the best—the cleanest. Plus, it’s the nostalgia factor that the Oregonian talks about; I remember my dad and relatives drinking it since forever. If I need to pick up some quantity beer—stretch the money just a little farther than a $7 sixpack of micros will go—then Pabst is it.


  1. True, a $2 pint of PBR is not a deal… but there are many places that have a 16oz can or pint glass for $1. That’s a deal. And it is still worlds more flavorful than Bud, Miller, Coors, etc.

    The New York Times article from 2 years ago really did more justice to this story:

  2. So, Pabst was using bike messengers to self-market… this is starting to sound like something out of a William Gibson novel…

    You’re right, that’s a good article. Thanks for the pointer.

  3. I would wager that if we did a blind taste test PBR would not come out on top of the cheapie beers. It may be better then some but like them all, it’s nothing special. It’s amazing what the cool factor does for it.

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