When Pabst Blue Ribbon launched a whiskey, people raised their eyebrows. When it launched a 5% ABV hard coffee, people rolled those eyes. But then word began trickling in from the five states—Pennsylvania, Maine, New Jersey, Florida and Georgia—in which the PBR hard coffee was sold. People say it’s kinda good?
An avowed fan of coffee, beer, and day drinking, I couldn’t let this new product go unexplored. I hear the critics in the balcony seats: Why do we need hard coffee? Just put booze in your regular coffee! Sure, if I feel like assembling a spiked coffee, no doubt it will be delicious. But what about mornings on the golf course, or on a boat, or tailgating? The convenience of the canned hard coffee can’t be denied.
With this open attitude, I brought the PBR hard coffee on a recent camping trip. (I make French-press coffee on camping trips anyway, but it felt like the right context in which to taste test this product.)
Verdict: Not the worst! It tastes like very, very sweet Yoo-hoo, not too far off from the prepackaged, flavored Dunkin’ lattes you can buy in convenience stores. There’s no perceptible alcohol, just an aspertame-ish kick at the finish. Allow me to repeat: This coffee is very sweet, like a melted Frappuccino with vanilla-flavored, powdered creamer in it. But it has a pleasant milk chocolate flavor, a thread of roasted coffee, and 30 milligrams of caffeine per can (a cup of Folgers contains about 60-80 milligrams of caffeine). After drinking the 11-ounce can, I didn’t feel especially buzzed—in either sense.
If you’re a person who likes the flavor of melted coffee ice cream and wants a small jolt of caffeine as you commence day-drinking, PBR hard coffee will be up your alley. I personally think it gets cloyingly saccharine by midway through the can, but the convenience factor almost compensates for that. My professional opinion? It serves its purpose.