I've never understood all the ranting and raving about PBR and hipsters, the media claims and blogger hate that fixies and Williamsburg wannabes drink it ironically. Maybe it's true that a few self-image-humping a-holes who don't like the taste and could afford a pricier brew drink it anyway because it's cool, and shame on them. But for everyone else, it's simple economics: Even with recent (and inevitable) price increases, Pabst is still the cheapest thirty-pack in most liquor stores, the cheapest can or draft at bars. If it's the cheapest way to get drunk, then it's the best way to get drunk, right? I, like most strapped-for-cash hipsters, am fiercely loyal to the bottom line, which is why loyalty to PBR makes so much sense. Plus, I genuinely enjoy the taste of inexpensive, full-flavored beer.
So when I walk into a bar and want to drink ten or more cold ones, I ask the bartender what's cheapest. At Patrick Carroll's, it's a can of PBR, Stroh's, Hamm's or Olympia for $2. After ordering myself and five already half-drunk friends a round of the latter — making sure to tell the bartender that I'd like to pick up the whole round, but "not to let any of these assholes put another drink on my tab" — I notice tallboys of Molson Canadian on the bottom shelf of the beer fridge. "Tallboys of Molson!" I exclaim. "I didn't even know those existed!"
"We started getting all these LoDo-ers in here asking for fancy shit," the bartender responds, leaning over the bar so as to keep his admission private. "But we're a blue-collar bar, so I made sure we stocked up on Stroh's and tallboys."
What he means by this, I'm not sure — that the stock of blue-collar beer was meant as a "fuck you" to these LoDo-ers? That Molson counts as "fancy shit" and stocking tallboys was meant to keep the balance? Hard to know, but it doesn't matter: The tallboys turn out to be $4, which makes them cheap and delicious. I switch over when my Olympia's cashed and don't look back.
As for Patrick Carroll's being blue-collar: not so much. Five years into its hopefully long life span, the re-created, worn-wood pub decor looks like the contractors could have finished yesterday — it's that nice. And besides the cans, the beer offerings are pretty highbrow: twelve choices on tap, including Guinness, Smithwick's, Hoegaarden and London Pride, and only one of them (Coors Light) even remotely blue.
Anyway, this 'tender turns out to be quite a character. While we're playing shuffleboard ($2/hour) in the back room and eating a giant plate of Blarney Chips (actual chips, with bleu cheese, tomatoes and bacon piled high), he wanders by and mutters, "No fat, no calories, no problem." Which is strange, but friendly. Later, as we're sitting around a high-top by the front windows and reading Trivial Pursuit cards to one another, he chimes in on every third question, getting most of them right. From twenty feet away. Which is fine, especially considering that we also make friends with three other strangers who chime in enough times that we eventually invite them into our 1980s-themed challenge. But it's still surprising. And then, an hour or so after this, when Lisa Loeb's "Stay" comes on the jukebox and a few in the group sing along, the guy wanders over and threatens, "You keep singing to this song, you're gonna get two solid hours of metal." Which is kind of funny, until he actually does it, skipping the rest of "Stay" to play some serious shred.
Still, he keeps things interesting, and keeps my belly full of cheap, delicious beer.
Both being very good for the bottom line.