Pabst has been expanding its offerings aggressively over the last year. Whatever you think of the Blue Ribbon, some of these experiments have been surprisingly successful. Have you tried the Hard Coffee? It's surprisingly good, and it's definitely one of the best hard coffees available right now.
However, a new line of Pabst beers is going a totally different direction from the high-ABV PBR or the non-alcoholic PBR that have been released recently. The new Captain Pabst label is an attempt to release beers that you’d expect from a craft brewery rather than a macro-brewery that contract brews its beers. The first Captain Pabst release is Seabird IPA, and it’s not breaking any new ground.
Releasing a familiar-tasting IPA feels like an attempt to catch up to a game already in progress. Though, any large beer company with an eye on appearing to be more “craft” (insofar as there can be said to be any sort of monolithic "craft" label in after the Dogfish Head/Boston Beer merger and Ballast Point's shocking 2020 sale), is going to feel like it’s behind the ball. To be fair, IPAs account for a significant part of the craft beer market, and it’s hard to imagine it launching a line of beers like this without an IPA. Nonetheless.
It’s not a beer that’s going to knock your socks off. However, if you were hoping for the opportunity to drag Pabst for making a garbage IPA or chasing some kind of milkshake or hazy trend, you won’t get that opportunity. It’s a fine beer. It leans toward being a West Coast-style IPA, though it's not intensely hoppy.
Seabird has a nice balance of hops, even if the combination of Magnum, Citra, Cascade and Mosaic has become very familiar. The malt bill isn't buried at all, with a bready, caramel malt flavor lurking under the hops. The aroma isn't what you've come to expect from an IPA, with only a light touch of hops. It's almost a bit citrusy verging on medicinal without having a whole lot of citrus flavor in the actual bill.
It’s not breaking new ground, but Seabird IPA is a fine IPA. It won’t make you stop and call a time out like Zach Morris at the bar, but you aren’t going to send it back.