PBR Hard Coffee – Ingredients, Safety, Where to Find It

Pabst Blue Ribbon has released a “Hard Coffee” in select markets. Where can you find it? What is it? What’s in it? Why did Four Loko get in trouble with the FDA for caffeinated alcohol but this drink is okay? Food Scientist GreenEyedGuide answers these questions in this review of PBR Hard Coffee.

Don’t have time to watch the full episode? You can read the highlights below.

PBR Hard Coffee: Ingredients, Safety, and Where to Find It – YouTube Episode

What is PBR Hard Coffee?

PBR Hard Coffee is not a blend of coffee and beer. It’s not a beer with coffee flavoring. According to the PBR website, it’s not even “beer”.

PBR Hard Coffee - "Not Beer" according to PBR website

PBR indicates this is not beer, it’s a flavored malt beverage.

What’s the difference between beer and a flavored malt beverage?

According to Charlie Bamforth, Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science from the University of California, Davis:

Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from malted cereal grain, flavored with hops, and brewed by slow fermentation.

According to Beer and Brewing’s online dictionary:

A flavored malt beverage (FMB) is an alcoholic beverage made from original base containing malt, but then stripped of malt character and then flavored. … FMB production starts out much like a beer and then goes through treatment (carbon filtration, reverse osmosis, etc) to remove as much beer and malt flavor and color as possible. The clear, colorless treated malt base is then sweetened, usually with high-fructose corn syrup, and then flavored.

PBR Hard Coffee Ingredients

PBR Hard Coffee ingredients are arabica and robusta coffee beans, creamy milk, and sweet vanilla flavor.

PBR Hard Coffee Caffeine Content

A “standard” cup* of coffee contains 100 mg caffeine. According to CNN (the only ones who had this amount in their coverage), there’s 30 mg caffeine in a can of PBR Hard Coffee.

*NOTE*Please note 100 mg is used as the industry standard. However, it’s common knowledge the actual amount in a cup of coffee varies wildly – researchers even found variation when they bought a cup of coffee from one location on multiple days. [Reference] [GEG Summary]
caffeine amount in Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) Hard Coffee compared to Red Bull and a standard cup of coffee - GreenEyedGuide.com

A 12-oz can of Red Bull has 110 mg caffeine – just a little more than a “standard” cup of coffee. PBR Hard Coffee has 1/3 of that amount – containing only 30 mg caffeine per can. The caffeine mg-per-oz amounts of PBR Hard Coffee, a standard cup of coffee, and a 12-oz Red Bull are 3, 13, and 9 mg-per-oz, respectively.

PBR Hard Coffee Alcohol Content

The alcohol content of PBR Hard Coffee is comparible to other flavored malt beverages: Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Henry’s Hard Soda, Truly Sparking, and Smirnoff Ice all have about 4-5% alcohol-by-volume (ABV).

The alcohol content of PBR Hard Coffee is also comparable to a the original PBR can of beer.

Is PBR Hard Coffee safe?

How many cans of PBR Hard Coffee can you drink before it becomes dangerous? In an earlier episode on the GreenEyedGuide YouTube channel, I reviewed the consensus of several different countries regarding mixing caffeine and alcohol.

Screenshot of GreenEyedGuide YouTube Episode: Mixing Caffeine and Alcohol
You can watch this full episode by clicking here

The scientific consensus of the European Food Safety Authority is that you can have up to 200 mg caffeine mixed with enough alcohol to give you a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08. If you exceed 200 mg caffeine or BAC 0.08, mixing caffeine and alcohol becomes no longer safe**.

*NOTE* For all the side-effects and risks of mixing caffeine and alcohol, see the YouTube Episode above – skip to time stamp 4:51.
Caffeine Informer graphic showing what 200 mg caffeine looks like - 2.5 Red Bull, 1.25 cans of Monster, 6 cans of Coca-Cola, 2.5 cups of coffee.
THIS GRAPHIC from CaffeineInformer.com shows how much caffeine you can safely mix with alcohol.

The graphic above, from Caffeine Informer, shows how much caffeine you can safely mix with alcohol – at 30 mg per can, the caffeine amount in PBR Hard Coffee is very low, so it makes PBR Hard Coffee much safer than something like the original (pre-2010) Four Loko.

Why did Four Loko get in trouble with the FDA but this PBR Hard Coffee is okay?

On the FDA’s information sheet on caffeinated alcoholic beverages, they clarify the reason the manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages got in trouble is they were adding caffeine to the products. According to the FDA, caffeine is an “unsafe food additive” because it is not approved, at any amount, to be added to alcohol. Adding a natural source of caffeine, however, is just fine.

If you’re curious about FDA regulations around caffeine, this blog post does a good job of explaining the regulations for caffeine in food, drinks, and supplements.

The difference with PBR Hard Coffee is there’s no added caffeine, they’re adding coffee, which is a natural source of caffeine. Hello, loophole? Maybe…

The amount of caffeine in PBR Hard Coffee is so low you’d have to finish 7 cans before the caffeine crosses that 200 mg threshold where it starts interfering with how drunk you feel.

Where can I find PBR Hard Coffee?

This drink is still being tested in select markets – Pabst wants to see how successful this drink is going to be before going all in.

Right now (as of July, 2019) you can only get PBR Hard Coffee in the following states:

  • Pennsylvania
  • Maine
  • New Jersey
  • Florida
  • Georgia

If you live in one of those states, you can use the store locator at this link to find the nearest location of where you can buy it.

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Love this info? Want to learn more?

I’ve researched the science and safety behind energy drinks and their ingredients since 2003. This book is the culmination of my research:

Read more

GreenEyedGuide Caffeine Challenge Day 3/10 – Alcohol and Caffeine (Friday Night Dilemma)

For Day 3 of the GreenEyedGuide Caffeine Challenge, we discuss the Friday Night Dilemma: what do you do when you get tired at 10 pm but you want to enjoy a night on the town and have an alcoholic beverage?

References in the video - FoodNavigator on the DAWN report and Caffeine Informer on alcohol and energy drinks

March is Caffeine Awareness Month – Join the Caffeine Challenge!

Through this challenge, you’ll learn how to use the 5 Levels of Fatigue to reap the benefits of caffeine while avoiding addiction, dependence, tolerance, and toxicity.

PLAY ALONG – post a picture of your WAKE-UP tool/trick on Instagram and tag @GreenEyedGuide, or add your pictures to the Caffeine Challenge Event page at Facebook.com/GreenEyedGuide/events

Watch as CaffeineAddict gives a shout out to GreenEyedGuide’s energy drink book!

When someone named CaffeineAddict endorses your book, it’s a great day. Watch below as CaffeineAddict talks about my book, “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely”.

CaffeineAddict’s energy drink reviews are funny, informative, and creative. His use of pop up memes always make his reviews fun to watch. Since he’s from Norway so he often finds drinks not available in the US. Even when he reviews products common to the US (such as Monster or RockStar), it’s fun to see how different the formulas and labels are internationally.

This is a great review. I laughed when CaffeineAddict looked at the expiration date. Vitamin B2/Riboflavin is very yellow so maybe it is reacting with something to create that green shine. I felt special when he mentioned the caffeine and sugar content because I always put that question in the comments of his review videos. I am SO GLAD he says people should not mix caffeine and alcohol.

Here’s another reason to watch/follow/support CaffeineAddict – this is (to date) my favorite video on the topic of energy drinks and safety:

You can find CaffeineAddict on YouTube as well as Instagram.

Thanks for your support – enjoy!

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ENERGY DRINK OF THE MONTH YEAR IN REVIEW (YEAR 1 AND YEAR 2…year 3 coming soon…)

 

Book Excerpt of the Week: Bartender Wisdom and the Wide-awake Drunk

Every Monday I share an excerpt from my Energy Drink Guide. This week’s excerpt is bartender wisdom from PART ONE: Are They Safe. This week’s excerpt is important because too many people underestimate the danger of combining alcohol and energy drinks. In fact I often tell people that the most dangerous thing about Red Bull is the alarming frequency at which people mix it with alcohol.

“Every good bartender also knows that giving a drunken person coffee just makes them a wide awake drunk. It doesn’t make them any less impaired.”

-GreenEyedGuide

Open letter to Time regarding energy drink article in “The Answer Issue”

Greetings Ms. Nancy Gibbs and Time Staff,

Normally, I find Time Magazine articles engaging and insightful but the article “Energy drinks have doctors worried—but business is booming” by Ms. Alexandra Sifferlin was severely disappointing.

Did you know that the top-selling energy drink has less caffeine and less sugar per serving than a tall mocha from Starbucks? The Issue Contents page features the question, “Should your kid drink Red Bull”, but Original Red Bull has 80 mg caffeine, 27 g sugar in 8.46 fl oz can versus the 90 mg caffeine, 35 g sugar in tall (12 oz) cafe mocha. This is not to say Red Bull is without its hazards. In fact, the biggest hazard with Red Bull is the alarming frequency with which this drink is mixed with alcohol! Unfortunately, the dangerous combination of alcohol and energy drinks was completely omitted from this article. Read more