Judging Java: PBR Hard Coffee

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Coffee Columnist

3 Globes

Alright, I am simultaneously morally and academically required to offer a disclaimer on this one, so here goes: The Globe does not encourage irresponsible use of alcohol. We do not advocate for drinking under the age of 21. Please drink responsibly.

Pabst Blue Ribbon is one of the most well known beer companies in America. The historic company dates back all the way to 1844, and has permanently solidified itself as a classic. Recently, the company has tried to introduce new products to appeal to younger audiences and keep up with the times. These have been primarily seltzers, but they also introduced something that was, at the time of its release two years ago, the first of its kind: hard coffee. Because I recently turned 21, I can finally get around to reviewing this semi-new drink.

Sold in packs of four 11-ounce cans, Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Coffee is a little bit tricky to find. While Pabst Blue Ribbon is sold pretty much everywhere beer is sold, the Hard Coffee is only available in select locations. If you’re looking for it downtown, Beer Lime and Sunshine on Wood Street has it as well as Hard Cold Brew and Hard Salted Caramel Coffee. But for now, let’s focus on the traditional, regular Hard Coffee.

Pabst Hard Coffee is explicitly trying to be an alcoholic vanilla coffee. If you’ve ever had a canned Iced Vanilla Cold Brew, this tastes more or less the same. Canned iced vanilla coffee has actually become very popular in recent years. Companies like Rise and Nitro have flooded the market with them. All of them bear a distinct processed taste — a combination of canned milk and rich coffee beans that have lost their flavor over time. If you’ve had one of these, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

What Pabst Hard Coffee does is it takes this style of canned coffee beverage and adds alcohol to it. I need to emphasize right here, this is just coffee with alcohol added to it. This is not beer mixed with coffee. The branding actually is a little misleading, as it looks like it is a coffee flavored Pabst Blue Ribbon, but it’s just a coffee mixed with malt liquor.

As far as the actual drink itself, there’s two ways to look at this, you can look at this as a coffee drink, and you can look at this as an alcohol drink. From a coffee standpoint, it’s terrible. The coffee flavor is unremarkable, and overall it just feels like drinking the worst possible canned coffee. However, from the alcohol standpoint, this drink excels. Alcohol is not exactly known for being tasty, and this drink manages to bring a unique flavor to the alcoholic beverage market.

Something very important to acknowledge is that this drink is coffee. This is not a coffee flavored seltzer; it’s made with actual coffee beans and contains around 30 milligrams of caffeine. That’s not a lot of caffeine (a traditional cup of coffee contains around 60 milligrams), but you have to keep in mind that this drink mixes that caffeine with alcohol. The mixing of alcohol—a depressant—and caffeine—a stimulant—can end up being a dangerous combination if you drink too much.

That being said, as long as you’re responsible with your drinking, you’ll be fine. But if you’re drinking multiple drinks in one night, it’s best to make sure that only one of them is a Hard Coffee.