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The Great Crap-Beer Drought

Hip, cheap PBR goes missing in Brooklyn.

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There’s been a mystery brewing among the sort of dive bars in Brooklyn that appeal to rigorously trendy, budget-minded twentysomethings: What’s become of their favorite watery lager, Pabst Blue Ribbon? Pabst, which took off in popularity in the last few years, became a textbook case of how to market a brand without seeming to. Hipsters, already fascinated by down-market accessories like trucker caps, took to the low-rent beer with ironic fervor. Which is why it was so traumatic that, over the past few months, die-hard Pabst bars have reported that their regular orders have gone unfulfilled. “It’s a bummer,” says set designer Bryn Bowen, who recently tried to order a PBR at Lodge, a bar in Williamsburg, but found it was out. “I’m a connoisseur of working-class shit beer.” Taggart (who wouldn’t give his full name), the manager at another Williamsburg bar, the Southside Lounge, which has a $5 Jim Beam–and–PBR special, says he gave up trying to get Pabst after weeks of trouble. Garal Wholesalers, the brand’s Long Island and Queens distributor, says that a company called Diversified Distribution used to handle Brooklyn for it, until DD recently went out of business. So about a month ago, Garal took Brooklyn back, but a Garal rep admits that there was a “bit of a problem” getting Pabst to the Brooklyn bars during the changeover. “People were pissed off,” says Chase Elder, a bartender at Lodge, “but luckily we have other crappy beer.”


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