I had to try it to believe it. Pabst Blue Ribbon, the maker of the original ironic hipster beer, has created a hard coffee beverage. Yes, you read that correctly, and, no, this is not your mother’s white Russian.
“We wanted to make something that tasted like delicious iced coffee, not beer,” says Brand Manager John Newhouse. “Our innovation team nailed it.”
Nailed it they did. I chilled my precious sample cans (Pabst Hard Coffee is available only in five states currently — Pennsylvania, Maine, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia — and the company could not say when it would roll out more widely.) and took them to my neighborhood drinking establishment, where I excitedly shared them, over ice, with a drinking buddy who happens to be a beer expert.
“They don’t taste like beer,” we marveled. “They don’t even taste like alcohol,” we whispered. The owner passed them around, and soon the entire bar sat in awe. Pabst Blue Ribbon has created a hard coffee (at 5% alcohol) that looks and tastes like a creamy, sweet and completely delicious iced coffee, and put it in a can.
But why make hard coffee at all? Do people want booze with breakfast? Are soccer moms going to make the switch from kombucha to hard coffee in their water bottles?
Judging from the results on social media, people who have tried it, dig it. Dozens of early adopters on Instagram liken it (positively) to Yoo-hoo, the chocolate drink that for decades has sat next to sodas in the soft drink aisle. To us, it tasted much more like a vanilla Frappuccino. But either way, it seems American drinkers are ready for change, in the form of alcoholic drinks that don’t taste like booze, but mimic other beverage favorites. Pabst Blue Ribbon is leading the way.