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Posts Tagged ‘Schlitz’

Summer has arrived finally. The warm, somewhat humid, sunny day brought me to the beer store or, more correctly for the Live Free or Die state, the regular old grocery store, Hannaford. I rolled past the cooler windows looking for the just right brew for this bright summer day. I slid past all the IPA’s: Harpoon, Smuttynose, Red Hook, etc. I even passed up the thin little slot where the Harpoon Leviathan brew Imperial IPA sat. I went past the Guinness Extra Stout and even past the Sam Adams summer ales – summer this, summer that – wimp beer I say.

Pabst-1I know what was really on my mind – summer quantity – the volume pack – in cans – cold – budget priced, but… had to have the taste that came through in an ice cold can. Well it could have been Bud, which certainly fits that bill pretty much, except my summer brew secret is Pabst Blue Ribbon!

I’m not going to tell you that I would pour it into a pint glass and watch the head form, or remark on the grand color, or describe the array of tastes it releases. No, it is a thirst quencher first and foremost. It is crisp and clean, a touch of hops, a dry after taste but nothing to write home about. Pabst is durable and, unlike Bud, the last ounce in a slightly warmed up can doesn’t get skunked. None of that bad Bud aftertaste from the dregs.

One might wonder where Pabst has been over the years. They proudly write of the America’s Best award from 1893 on the cans. However as the Best Big Brewery they garnered awards in 2006 and 2007. Pabst serves as the brewery behind many old brands including Ballantine, Schlitz, Shaeffer, Olympia, Blatz and on and on.ourPortfolio-1

HaveAnother
Pabst six

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ballentine2

As I was saying in the previous post: Ballantine XXX Ale became the standard setter for my beer drinking evaluations. I must admit though, the bulk of beer drinking in those early years consisted of cans of Bud, Schlitz, Pabst or local favorites Carling Black Label (“Hey, Mabel! Black Label!”) and Narragansett (“Hi neighbor! Have a ‘Gansett!”). However, when I felt the need to remember my beer drinking roots I sought out a six of XXX Ale.

As time went on I discovered Guinness Extra Stout. For those who equate Guinness to the draft version available now in tall cans or bottles there is a distinctly different brew found there. No, the Extra Stout was a strong, full-bodied, earthy ale. It was sold in four packs of  11oz bottles, later in 12 oz six packs. I stumble upon it every so often now and grab some.

This Guinness perfectly matched my expectations of earthy bitterness that Ballantiine  first awakened in me. The combination of the two makes a great Black and Tan by the way. In fact I got to the point of keeping a case of both on hand, drinking either one straight or mixing the two for variety.

In the early seventies up in Stillwater, Maine, I came across my first Narragansett Porter. Now here was a quiet sleeper! A great earthy porter for the low price of common ‘Gansett. The shopkeeper said he kept a supply on hand for some of the old timers – sort of a remnant of the stronger American brews that the lighter lagers of Budweiser and others had replaced. 

Well, conveniently, my wife worked for a local store and the owner agreed to order in cases of ‘Gansett Porter and Ballantine XXX just for me. They came in the returnable and reusable “bar” bottles and heavy returnable cases. This was way before bottle bills and recycling had surfaced. So now for a low cost I had as good a selection of brews as the later micro and craft breweries produced at premium prices.

Well, meanwhile in the background, the New England brewing industry was slipping away. Fallstaff had purchased both Ballantine and Narragansett, Carling had started its collapse, eventually closing  the Natick brewery. With A-B opening its Budweiser brewery in Merrimack, NH local beers slipped away. Now brewed by a Miller plant under license from Pabst, Ballantine and some of the other old labels still exist.

So after Budweiser ran all the old time brews out, the tables now turn again and Harpoon and Boston Beer (Sam Adams) are buying up other breweries and turning out high quality brews in New England. (Not that Budweiser is threatened, what with A-B and a few other national powerhouses holding 90% of the US beer market.)

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