Retro Beers

In the September 2008 version of All About Beer magazine, Don Russell writes and article called “Retro Beer,” which chronicles the rise of beers like Pabst, Rheingold and Genny Cream Ale among hipsters and ironic college types.

The piece speaks of how these beers went from hokey third-rate relics to wink-and-a-nod artifacts which trucker hat wearing twentysomethings drink not for taste, but to feel connected to another time, and connected to the beers their dads drank. (The article, in fact, has a very interesting angle about how a desire to connect to our fathers might the strongest subconscious rationale behind this new trend.)

Personally, I’m not sure I’m buying it.

I know several people who drink good beer, and yet express a mind-boggling affection for Pabst Blue Ribbon. It’s one thing to celebrate the retro kitch culture such as a wonderful place like Philly’s own Bob and Barbara’s Lounge, which is awash in long-forgotten PBR ad campaigns of the past. It’s another to swig down a can of PBR and actually fool yourself into thinking it’s a premium beer.


There is a place for these kind of beverages; I would have felt positively out of place at the outskirts of Wrigleyville in Chicago drinking anything other than tallboys of Old Style, or hunkering down at a townie bar in Rochester and ordering Bud over Genny. And truth be told, Utica Club is actually a decent beverage.

But truthfully, I don’t need to hear another fratboy in a pre-tattered straw cowboy hat and Che Guevara t-shirt telling me that Blatz is superior to whatever I’m drinking, any more than I need someone telling me that “Speed Racer” is better than “The Venture Brothers.”

It’s one thing to dress in an ironic, postmodern way to assert some sort of hipster aesthetic; it’s completely another to try and fool your taste buds.

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~ by William H on August 29, 2008.

One Response to “Retro Beers”

  1. I drink Old Style while at Wrigley (and places that have it while watching the cubs) but on the outskirts of Wrigleyville, you could just as easily go to Goose Island.

    They don’t have old style there, they have bud light, but that’s because AB distributes GI.

    I enjoy the “retro” beers (I call them crap beers). It’s always fun to find the “worst” beer a bar has, those are also the cheapest. A bar that I really hate in town has HAMMS, and that’s the bar’s only redeeming quality.

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