The non-dairy, lower-ABV sibling to PBR Hard Coffee is launching today in honor of National Coffee Day.

By Mike Pomranz
September 29, 2020
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Credit: Pabst Blue Ribbon

Last summer, Pabst Blue Ribbon—the legacy beer brand that was embraced by a new generation in part because it was so tried, true, and, let’s be honest, perfectly prosaic—had an unexpected hit with a very non-PBR-like product: PBR Hard Coffee. The 5-percent ABV malt beverage (definitely not “beer”) featuring an easy-drinking, morning tailgate-worthy kick that our tasters described as reminiscent of a “thicker, malt Starbucks Frappuccino” debuted in just a handful of states, but is now available nationwide. It turned out to be the first of a few tricks in PBR’s self-described “Not Beer” category: A couple of PBR Stronger Seltzers joined the fold last August, and a PBR Hard Tea was launched earlier this year.

But for PBR’s latest addition, the brand is returning to the “Not Beer” that started it all—Hard Coffee—and taking the next logical coffeehouse step forward: Announced today is PBR Hard Cold Brew.

“Pabst Blue Ribbon helped pioneer a new category in 2019 with the launch of Hard Coffee. Since then it’s become a sensation, with fans across America showcasing their enthusiasm for it at all times of day and night, by pouring it over cereal, baking it into cakes and, of course, enjoying it ice-cold straight from the can,” the brand states. “This fall, marking National Coffee Day, Pabst Blue Ribbon will once again reinvigorate the Hard Coffee space, with the launch of Hard Cold Brew. Cold brewed coffee has become a fast favorite with coffee drinkers in America in the last few years, beloved for its sweeter smoother taste. Pabst Blue Ribbon’s Hard Cold Brew delivers a delicious black cold brewed coffee with a kick.”

But it turns out PBR Hard Cold Brew has more going for it than just a smoother taste. Unlike PBR Hard Coffee, which contains milk, PBR Hard Cold Brew is billed as being dairy-free “with just a hint of sweetness.” The Hard Cold Brew is also lower in alcohol—only 4.2 percent ABV. That might not seem like a huge difference, but comparatively, Bud Light is 4.2 percent while Budweiser is 5 percent, meaning Hard Cold Brew could be seen as Hard Coffee’s “light beer-like” companion. And beyond alcohol, each can also contains 30 milligrams of caffeine—about as much as 12-ounce Coca-Cola.

“Hard Coffee has performed very well in the market this year, exceeding our expectations. We have a unique, tasty drink that consumers are loving.  In fact, Hard Coffee’s repeat purchase rate is on par with several recent hard seltzer launches," John Newhouse, PBR's brand manager, products, told me via email. "Hard Cold Brew expands our coffee platform in a natural direction, which we’ll continue doing into 2021.” 

As PBR has done with other new products in the past, PBR Cold Brew—which will be sold in four-packs—is only debuting in four states: Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. But if PBR strikes gold twice, much like its Hard Coffee, expect Hard Cold Brew to eventually receive a wider rollout.