Maybe we've watched Blue Velvet too many times, but to us there's something uniquely American about Pabst Blue Ribbon. Sure, it's been widely acknowledged from Williamsburg to Echo Park as the beer du jour of the hipster masses, but really, who doesn't appreciate a blue-collar beer once in a while, especially when it's from one of Milwaukee's oldest breweries. As long as you set your expectations reasonably low, PBR always delivers.
That's why we were so shocked to hear that Pabst is set to release a new specialty beer in China called “Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844,” a title that nods to the brewery's founding date. Not to be confused the standard $2 pint, PBR 1844 comes in an elegant 750ml bottle accented with gold lettering and a label that suggests serving the beer in champagne flutes. It is expected to retail for around $44 per bottle.
Who would pay that much for Pabst? Given the cultural correlation between high-priced alcohol and success in China (along with a love of all things featuring prize ribbons on the label) the beer is expected to be a hot-ticket item once it debuts. Before you roll your eyes and quip that the Chinese will waste their money on almost anything (though that's pretty much true), it's worth noting that Alan Kornhauser, the head of Pabst Asia and the creator of 1844, has been a brewmaster at August Schell, Anchor Steam and Portland Brewing, three domestic breweries with a great deal of street-cred.
As for the beer itself, Kornhauser reports that it's an “all-malt, reddish brown strong (15.7 plato) ale, dry hopped with Cascade (38 IBU) and aged in new uncharred American whiskey barrels.”
Sounds pretty good, right? Well unfortunately you won't be able to try it unless you have a surplus of frequent flyer miles: It will be available exclusively in China.
Follow Garrett Snyder on Twitter @searchanddevour.