via Food & Wine – 10/21/2020
For generations, Pabst Blue Ribbon was a simple brand struggling to survive on its legacy before hipsters embraced that old-school attitude and returned the beer to prominence over the past couple decades. But over the past couple years, PBR has drastically rewritten its ethos. No longer a single lager, in 2019, Pabst began rolling out new variations on the beer: higher strength Extra, lower strength Easy, and no strength Non-Alc. Then, PBR pivoted from beer entirely, introducing PBR Hard Coffee. That launch proved popular enough that Pabst followed with similar products like PBR Hard Tea and PBR Hard Cold Brew. Meanwhile, PBR also jumped into the trendy hard seltzer category with PBR Stronger Seltzer. And not to mention, even stronger, PBR released its own whiskey.
Needless to say, it’s been an insanely busy two years for the once proudly stagnant brand, and if you’re wondering if PBR has any other tricks up their sleeve—and what on Earth could even be left—well, a mere two weeks after announcing the launch of their cold brew, PBR is already back with an even more outside the box product: PBR with THC.
Announced today, Pabst Blue Ribbon Cannabis Infused Seltzer is a non-alcoholic, THC-infused lemon seltzer packed with five milligrams of marijuana’s main active ingredient in each 12-ounce can. The resulting beverage is billed as offering up “a responsible dosage designed to make it a go to drink for both casual and experienced cannabis users,” while keeping waistlines slim with just 25 calories and four grams of sugar per serving.
If you’re wondering what a 175-year-old beer brand knows about pot, well, admittedly, not a ton. Though the new seltzer bears the PBR name, the product—which has been in development for a couple of years—actually comes courtesy of a newly-founded, cannabis-focused entity called Pabst Labs.
“Until the legal landscape changes, we can’t produce this in-house, but the formation of Pabst Labs, a licensed cannabis operator, involving former Pabst Blue Ribbon employees and cannabis beverage experts, gave us a unique chance to grant the use of our brand to a cannabis savvy group that we could trust to develop an infused drink worthy of the Blue Ribbon,” Seamus Gallagher, senior brand manager for PBR, told me via email. As such, Pabst Labs is the one handling production, marketing, and sales of the new drink.
And speaking of sales, no, don’t expect to find this more legally-restricted beverage everywhere PBR is sold. Instead, PBR Cannabis Infused Seltzer is debuting at select California dispensaries or directly to California consumers online on the Pabst Labs website. There, a four-pack will set you back $24.
“Pabst Blue Ribbon has an incredibly loyal and passionate customer base who are open to change and embracing new ideas,” Mark Faicol, Pabst Labs brand manager, explained. “Though this is a limited initial launch, we’ve had a really enthusiastic and positive response from dispensaries and customers, and are looking forward to a wider roll out in the coming months. For over 175 years the Blue Ribbon has connected fans across generations around its products, and we think customers, new and old, are going to love the chance to experiment with something different from a brand they trust.”
And yet, with such a sudden shift to such a wide range of products, is this even the same PBR we know and love? Gallagher simply framed the answer as PBR getting more interesting. “Pabst Blue Ribbon has been busy creating lots of exciting new drinks that are creative and celebratory,” he told me. “We’re really excited to keep innovating and give Pabst Blue Ribbon fans the chance to try something fun and new.” Let the good times roll.