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We tried Pabst Blue Ribbon’s new Hard Coffee (so you don’t have to)

It's not technically a beer, even if Untappd classifies it as a Stout

Pabst Blue Ribbon's new Hard Coffee
Pabst Blue Ribbon's new Hard CoffeeRead moreGrace Dickinson

If you can’t settle between starting your day with a buzz from coffee or beer, first of all, you have a problem, but Pabst Blue Ribbon’s latest offering isn’t here to judge.

The company’s new beverage, Hard Coffee, provides both via 30 milligrams of caffeine and an ABV of 5% per 11-ounce can. By comparison, the average cup of joe provides about 95 milligrams of caffeine on average (and no alcohol, unless you’re going the caffé corretto route), while the usual PBR has a 4.74% ABV.

Released Monday, the drink is currently being offered in a limited number of states, and both Pennsylvania and New Jersey are included on the list. Pabst chose its test areas for the beverage “based on popular coffee markets,” a company spokesperson said.

Technically, the drink is a “flavored malt beverage,” not a beer, despite its classification as an American stout on popular beer rating site Untappd, where it has a score of 4.14 out of 5. Pabst used “Arabica and Robusta coffee beans and rich, creamy American milk” and added vanilla flavoring to make the non-carbonated, iced coffee-like drink. The company describes the beverage as being “among the first of its kind in the industry.”

“Hard Coffee is an opportunity for us to pioneer a delicious and fun new drink, and give America something unique,” Pabst brand manager John Newhouse said. “We hope everyone loves it as much as we do.”

While certainly unique, Hard Coffee, in a word, is OK. We tested it after picking up a four pack of 11-ounce cans from Spring Garden Beverage for $14.99 plus tax. As any hipster can tell you, a 24-pack of regular Pabst lager can be had for around the same price point.

Online reviews compare the drink to a boozy Yoo-Hoo, which isn’t far off. We found it tasted a little like a very sweet, alcoholic version of Starbuck’s canned Doubleshot coffee, or a vanilla Monster Java. As the drink warmed up, it took on more chocolatey character, and ended up tasting something like a White Russian made with Yoo-Hoo. Conceptually, it feels something like a more mature version of Four Loko, if that is somehow possible.

Should you be interested in trying Hard Coffee, you can find the drink at about 30 Philadelphia area distributors, including several Acmes and Shoprites, according to Pabst’s online locater. South Jersey may not have as much look although there are about 40 locations selling Hard Coffee in the Trenton area.

Hard Coffee is Pabst’s latest new product, with the company earlier this year having announced high-alcohol and alcohol-free versions of its beer, as well as plans to come out with its own whiskey.