7/16/08

poor boy's revolution


Back in the way back, when I was 21, newly on my own after 3 years of dreary relationship hassle, and freshly embedded in Atlanta, I did not know how to drink. I mean, I knew how to swallow liquid, and due to being raised by musicians and live music fans I knew general bar behavior better than most of my age group, but the actual process of going in and buying my drink of preference was something of a mystery.

There's a magic line in this country between 21- and 21+. Before that, you pretty much imbibe in whatever your older buddies or girlfriend buy you. Cheap corporate beer, high priced micros, Evan Williams, plastic bottle vodka - it's all pretty much luck of the draw, ain't it? So, the first few times I went out with friends here in town for a legal drink, I felt sort of flummoxed. What did adults order?

Sometimes I followed a friend's lead. Sometimes I ordered a simple mixed drink I wasn't scared of - a rum and coke, maybe. Sometimes I just asked for a Bud or a Rolling Rock because they were the first beers I recognized sitting on the shelf. But I had no finesse, no taste of my own was really involved.

Not long after I packed my duffel bag and headed for the Big City, I fell in with a kid named Dean. Now, Dean had issues. Whole subscriptions. When I say the words "pathological liar," I mean, "claims to have stomach cancer, says she was Winnie's understudy on the Wonder Years, would say she got mugged to explain where all her (drug) money went". That aside, though, we palled around for the better part of two years and had some damn good times doing so, as long as I kept in mind that if she said the sky was blue I needed to grab an umbrella.

Dean taught me to drink in bars. She and I walked into a joint in East Atlanta one night. She put a 5 on the bar and said, "Two Pabst tall boys." Left a dollar tip and still got a dollar back in change. That first PBR changed my life. Cold, clean - beat the hell out of Bud and its cousins. The red, white, and blue can design appealed instantly to the classic graphics fan in me. Plus, you couldn't get the stuff in Tally - this was at the very beginning of the PBR hipster revival. Dirty punks, pomped rockabillies, and working class rednecks gulped it by the gallon in bars tucked away in Atlanta's dark corners. It tasted like self reinvention, like punk rock, like downtown.

By the end of the night, I was suddenly a brand loyal man. Sure, if a place doesn't carry Pabst I'll switch down to High Life or up to Red Stripe. I've gulped my share of Dixie and Lone Star. I've put away cases of Natty and quarts of Schlitz. But Pabst Blue Ribbon is my beer of choice. And now it's the largest remaining American-owned brewer. That's something we can be proud of, I'd say. Or at least something we can drink to.

18 comments:

Miss Maybelle said...

PBR is delicious and refreshing as I remember. It's also a good thing to bet, as in I'll bet you a case of PBR that you can't catch a ball between the wall and your head. The prize is worth so much more than the money spent.

B.E. Earl said...

Well, you just knew I was gonna be the first one to comment on this post.

I had the same issue when I first graduated college. I drank Bud (I still do) and Corona (no thanks) and that was about it. Shots of Jose Cuervo or JD every once in a while.

Now I'm a beer and booze snob. My beer of choice...Pabst Blue Ribbon. There is an empty can from last night's All-Star festivities sitting on the table right next to me. So, I'm not the best housekeeper!

My PBR revelation happened in NYC way before the resurgence. I would hang out at this frat-boy bar on the Upper East Side that served $1 PBR cans from ice-filled vats. They still do. But I think they are up to $2 a can.

Then nothing for a while. Then I was visiting a friend in Atlanta a bunch of years back. We wandered into this joint called Moe's and Joe's. It was filled with old-timey PBR memorabilia and old-timey PBR itself. I was hooked again.

Now just about everywhere in NYC sells PBR. Cold, crisp and wonderful.

downtown guy said...

I think I'd have to have a few before I tried that trick. Are we talking one of those red kick balls or like a golf ball?

Miss Maybelle said...

Don't ever take this bet! It is a mean trick! You can't win! Oh, and I was thinking a tennis ball.

downtown guy said...

B.E.: My sis beat you to it.

Seriously, though, when people turn up their noses at a can of Pabst that's dripping from being in a cooler full of ice and water all afternoon, I suspect they just aren't really beer fans. More for me!

Ms. Moon said...

I have no beer loyalty AT ALL! Why is that?
Nice post, sonny boy.

downtown guy said...

You do, though. I would bet that 90% of the beer you have bought for yourself in the past decade has been Bud, Blue Moon, or Yuengling.

B.E. Earl said...

Ich...Blue Moon.

I don't know why, but I can't drink that stuff. If I want a Belgian beer I'm gonna drink a Belgian beer. Not what Coors believes a Belgian beer should taste like.

And I've got nothing against Coors. I dig me a banquet beer. Not that awful silver bullet stuff, but real Coors. Yum!

downtown guy said...

"Drinking Coors - it's like having sex in a canoe."

white rabbit said...

What's sex in a canoe like? I never did :(

downtown guy said...

Well, it's fucking close to water.

limpy99 said...

"If I want a Belgian beer I'm gonna drink a Belgian beer."

Damn straight! Like Budweiser!

downtown guy said...

Exactly. And they can have it.

tallycast said...

Actually with the euro/dollar divide, I'm not drinking a lot of Belgians these days except while in euroland. When I get a hankering for a saison, I head over to MSL and buy a (relatively) inexpensive bottle of Hennepin. It's from Brewery Ommegang, a home grown brewery in Cooperstown, NY; the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Brewery Ommegang has a series of beers but I like Hennepin best. A year ago, Brewery Ommegang was purchased by Duval, a Belgian brewer. Duval, in Flemish, means "The Devil".

While I was a bit sad to see the brewery get sold to the euros, it's actually been a very good thing.

The new owners closed the place down for 6 months and upgraded the equipment. While that was going on, Hennepin was being brewed in Belgium and still being sold at the sub-six dollar price. Props to them for that.

Duval is a great beer in it's own right and I always appreciate a beer named after the devil (it's one of several from around the world that make a reference to his evilness).

So Pabst; I cut my drinking teeth on that beer and still have one every now and then, but my tastes have changed a bit.

Does anyone remember when Pabst used to do a Bock beer in the fall? It came in a similar can to the current pils that they sell, but also had a drawing of a goat on it. It was pretty delicious and getting a goat drawing on the can was a no cost extra.

EDP said...

I admire the style of seasoned drinkers. I'm a serious lightweight in this area, though I used to enjoy going out with friends who could hold their weight in Guinness.

downtown guy said...

Don't let those Guinness drinkers fool you into thinking they're downing strong beer - Guinness Draught has a lower alcohol content than Bud, Pabst, or Miller High Life. Less calories, too.

TallyCast said...

My local Guiness hero is the tall dude working the bar at the Warehouse who does the little artistic geehaws in the foam.

downtown guy said...

That's a pretty common Guinness trick. One local bartender likes to draw a pair of boobs in the foam for certain friends.