Pabst Old Tankard Ale | Pabst Brewing Company

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Pabst Old Tankard AlePabst Old Tankard Ale
Very Good
201 Ratings
Pabst Old Tankard AlePabst Old Tankard Ale

Brewed by:
Pabst Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Old Tankard is a classic American Ale that was first produced in Wisconsin in the 1930s, eventually becoming the #2 ale in America. Today, Old Tankard is brewed based on a recipe from Pabst's 1937 brewer’s log, using an authentic ale yeast with an alcohol content of 5.8% and 35 bitterness units. The top fermented brew has 2-row, imported Cara-Munich and Cara-Aroma malts with Nugget, Liberty, Willamette and Cascade hops. The result is a well-balanced, sessionable craft brew with a rich copper color, creamy head, and full body taste with notes of fruit and malt.

Brewed by City Brewing out of LaCrosse, WI

Added by GrumpyGas on 02-06-2016

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 201 |  Reviews: 81
Reviews by TheSixthRing:
Photo of TheSixthRing
3.67/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Pours with a slight haze and orange copper in color with a khaki, finger width head. Fair retention before giving way to a thin, consistent layer of surface suds. Lacing is mostly spotty with a few small chunks to boot.

Smell - Moderate aroma that hits on caramel with a touch of toffee, red apple and faint hop bitterness.

Taste - Follows the nose. More on the mildly sweet side with caramel and estery red apple flavor with lesser toffee touching base mid-taste and a hint of citrus and grassy bitterness near the tail end that helps to cut through some of the sweetness, though can get a bit cloying at times.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with low to moderate carbonation. Slick texture with an easy drinking finish.

Overall - Pretty decent ESB. Maybe something I'd consider picking up from time to time, but only if the right mood struck me.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of transitionbikes93
4.84/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Wow. Just wow.

At Kroger ladt night, looking through the beer selection (which is wuite good at this particular Kroger) and I stumbled across this gem, on sale for $3.50 for 4 16oz cans. I had never heard of this before, so I consulted BA for some direction.

Needless to say I walked out with a couple 4 packs, and I am disappointed in myself. I should have bought more!
I came home, immediately cracked one open and poured into one of my copper tankard mugs.

Look-Poors a dark amber color with a sudsy, tan-off white head that settles to a thin cap, some random lacing clinging to the side as I drink.

Smell-Malts, malts, and more malts. Not too sugary though, a whiff of hops busts through the sweet caramel and toffee, giving a well balanced aroma.

Taste-So much better than you would expect. I do like PBR as a good, cheap beer while fishing or after a bike ride but I would never expect them to brew something like this. I do agree it tastes very similar to Brown Shuggah, albeit a tad less complex. The malts hit you first, caramel and a hint of toffee with a lighter yet solid hop backbone that balances it out. Not too sweet, not too bitter, almost a perfect flavor balance. Very impressed.

Mouthfeel-Medium to Light-Medium body, slightly creamy, very drinkable yet satisfying.

Overall-An extremely solid, well crafted beer. Shame on you if you pass it up! Highly recommended, at this price point you won't find anything better, its better than some beers that cost double for sure. I have not been this impressed by beer in a long time.

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Photo of Czequershuus
4.32/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours a clear amber with a large foamy head. The aroma is a mix of pine, earth, walnuts, and stale bread. The flavor leads with sweet honey and brown bread, tea, light pine, and vague forest flavors. The mouthfeel almost nitro like, very creamy and soft. Overall this is a really nice beer that just invites gulping. Really solid classic ESB feel with and American twist.

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Photo of Feel_the_Darkness
4.14/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pleasant surprise to pick a single of this up and really enjoy it, extremely affordable to boot.

Poured from the can into a mug, much like it should be. Dark, heavy amber color with an enticingly frothy head, the beer just invites you to toast loudly and often with friends. Smells of doughy, breaded malts with a surprisingly assertive hop punch, a bit more piney then one would expect. The taste is frankly fantastic, with the hops showing through just enough to undercut the strong malts, but nowhere near as overpowering as the smell would have you believe. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, and insanely easy to drink.

Overall, well done Pabst. Please, if you read any of these reviews, take the hint and market this more aggressively. This is a beer you need to keep around for a while. A macro beer done with micro qualities. Will be looking to return to this one.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.87/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I'm a suckered for "original recipe" ale's. 1937. Yup. Classic, old style brews, flashback, time travel, retro....what can I say? I'm a suckered for good marketing.

Anyway, 16 oz. Can. Of course, I have a modern, stainless steel tankard to enjoy it in.

Amber, dark color, deep, off-white foam, settles in pretty quick.
Aroma is all malt, amber with nutty. Sweet, slightly dark wheat , high heat tingle.

Flavor is of multi layered mat realms. Mostly amber sweetness, subtle toffee, burnt sugars, rough around the edges with a decent complexity. Hop flavor, subtle but dry, dark wheat and slight bitterness in the finish.
Pabst is not exactly a beer geeks idea of a great time. But this is a step above what we are used to from this brewer. I found it fun and interesing.
So much so I purchased another 4 pack.

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Photo of nicholas2121
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pabst Old Tankard Ale brewed by Pabst Brewing Company, with an ABV of 5.80% This Extra Special/Strong Bitter pours out a nice deep golden amber color with nice thick off white head. Really liking the copper color to this brew. There is also some nice lacing to this brew, it sticks to the side of the glass well. The smell of Pabst Old Tankard Ale , rich with sweet grians and malts. There is also a slight bitterness of hops in the smell. Between the look and smell of this brew it is really inviting. Now for the taste, it is bold with flavors, an bitter sweet. You first pick up on the nice roasted grians and malts, then a mild bitterness from the hops. This is one fine drinking brew. I will say this, it is different, but in a good way. The body of this brew is a medium to heavy. There is a lot going on in Pabst Old Tankard Ale. There is nothing overpowering about this brew, it has a real nice balance to it. The mouth feel is Bold, Rich, Clean, Smooth and Refreshing. Overall I'm giving Pabst Old Tankard Ale a solid 4.25 out of 5. I would look this brew up again givin the chance to. It is to bad that this brew is now discontinue and no longer brewed. Pabst Brewing Company, did a nice job with this brew.

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Photo of StevenMilligan
3.86/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Wow, what a surprise. I enjoy an ale with a story and this one surely has one. But story aside, this is a very drinkable, medium bodied ESB. Poured from a 16oz can for a little over $2.00 in Florida (2016), this is a heck of a beer for the price. The malt bill is extremely reminiscent of Brown Shugga, though the final product lacks the depth of flavor Lagunitas brings out in Shugga, they are comparable. Hops are present but not overwhelming. Overall, I went in expecting a piss poor, macro attempt at a historic recipe and I was pleasantly surprised.

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Photo of BrewAskew
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to a generous buff head that lasts and laces. English pale ale color (deep copper). Aroma is spicy/citrusy/floral domestic hops and crystal malts, molasses and brown sugar and fruity yeast esters. Flavor is rich and malty with just enough hops to balance it perfectly. Mouthfeel is light-to-medium but a bit too gassy for an English brew. Overall a very good beer made by a mass producer. I would like to see the other big breweries do something like this. I have no problems with big, old school breweries making flavorful, worthy ales. I welcome it. Go Pabst!

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Photo of Spikester
3.92/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Clear red amber with two fingers of long lasting white head. Good amount of fine bubble lace.
Smell is caramel malt and earthy spicy hops.
Taste i s like the nose. Sweet caramel malt with a surprising amount of hop bitterness.
Mouthfeel is medium with good carbonation. Finish is long dry and medium bitter.
Overall a surprisingly good product by Pabst and City Brewing..

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Photo of Caveworm
4.44/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pabst Old Tankard Ale | Pabst Brewing Company. Poured from the can into a pint glass, the head of this beer is off-white and two fingers thick, with solid lacing, and a slightly hazed copper brown body.

Smells like butter biscuit malts being balanced by mild yet noticeable hops.

I taste a slightly sweet blend of the smell with a surprisingly astute use of hops.

Mouthfeel is medium with mild carbonation.

I'll give Pabst Old Tankard Ale | Pabst Brewing Company an overall 4.5 Pleasantly surprised with what the Pabst Brewing Company was able to pull off with this brew. Give it a whirl if you get the chance to.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.79/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Marshall St Bar and Grill in Rochester, NY.

This one pours a clear dark-ish red, with a big foamy and fluffy head, and a good amount of lacing.

Smells pretty malty, bready and a little sweet, with a hint of grassy hops.

This has a wonderfully creamy flavor to it that I really enjoy. It's maybe slightly watery, but has a nice bready and caramelly malt backbone, with a hint of grassy hops- the grassiness feels maybe a little bit wet, but not overly so. It feels maybe a little "empty" in the middle, flavor-wise, but it's still a fun beer.

This is medium bodied, very creamy, with an almost cask-like mouthfeel, even though it's on normal draft.

This was definitely fun to try- I hope Pabst continues to resurrect old recipes.

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Photo of BeerBobber
4.11/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a beautiful caramel color with a finger and a half of a slightly off white head. Getting some decent lacing as well.

Smells of hops and sweet bread.

Taste is nice caramel flavor that does not go over the top. Some nice light yet present hop bitterness. Rich and malty on the palate.

The mouth leans towards a medium profile with a wet finish.

Overall I must say I really enjoyed this beer. It has a hop presence and some sweet caramel maltiness on the flavor yet nothing over the top and all flavors working together. The smell seems almost chewy in a malty sort of way. Is this beer seriously discontinued? I really could not find a reason to retire this fine beer after drinking it down.

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Photo of Dinglehacker
3.84/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured tallboy into a perforated seidel. Biege head is retained over amber.

Malty nose, a little spice.

Mostly malt in taste. Sweet spice underneath. Hops aren't piney or overdank, very nice.

Mouth is dry and active but not overly.

A sweeter, less bitter ESB with personality and session capabilities. Not bad, Pabst.

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Photo of donpetrulis
4.79/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I enjoyed this beer from the very first trial. When poured in the glass it formed a nice foamy head that lasted until my last sip. What stood out was the lacing. When I was finished you could count the number of sips it took for me to finish the Old Tankard Ale by just counting the rings. The color was also a very appealing amber color. I am not one that enjoys a high IBU count and found the Old Tankard Ale to be delightful at it's 35 bitterness units. The carbonation was perfect and that added to the smooth feel as I enjoyed sip after sip. The smell reminded me of the aroma I would enjoy each time I've visited a Craft Brewer when they were brewery their beers. My hats off to The Pabst Brewing company and their partnership with Wisconsin Brewing in bringing back a historical label/brand and recipe and taking the time to get it right. I will recommend Old Tankard Ale to all my fellow Beer Aficionados. I suggest Old Tankard Ale consider a 12oz bottle, but definitely not a deal breaker.

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Photo of Reidrover
3.26/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

4 pack of 16 oz cans from local Grocer store in Cave Junction. $5.99 Poured into plastic glass at Panther Flat Camp ground in the Redwood Forest. No idea really of the colour as the propane lantern made it impossible..but nice half inch head. Nice malty and spicy hop aromas. Taste is hoppy but its lighter ..but still noticeable and has a nice malt backing. Mouth feel is good and easy..god after taste. Not a bad beer at all.

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Photo of BigGold
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had at unfortunately catered event, poured from pint can into a little clear plastic wine cup. Another Pabst historical re-creation, Old Tankard is not bad at all.

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Photo of SaltofOH
3.76/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Can stamped 0826LX, 0330FL. Nonic pint glass.

A: pours a slightly hazy deep Amber with lots of carbonation, fine bits of sediment, and two fingers frothy/foamy sand colored head. Very good lacing and retention.

S: very sweet and citrusy floral. Honestly, smells more "American" than expected; distinctly cascade hops; thought it would be very English. Kind of smells like Centennial IPA. Really like the smell.

T: slightly sweet, mildly hoppy arrival. Not as sweet on the palate as it smells, more bready, with notable hop and citrus character. Becomes honeyed and sweeter toward the end, then a slight ruby red grapefruit and a tough of grain and alcohol. Slightly inharmonious, but good.

M: heavier side of midweight, actively carbonated, a little slick, but ample hoppiness gives it a little astringency on the back end.

O: this is a decent beer, and definitely the best I've had from Pabst. If I were in college, I would live off this stuff. But this strikes me as a mellower Centennial IPA, and that is better in every respect except price and freshness, though it is a little more overbearing. I will probably buy this again, though, because I love ESBs, and they can be hard to find and are generally expensive. Because I live ESBs I am probably grading more harshly than I would another style.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.11/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked up a 4 pack of these for $3.99. Upon first sip I am greatly regretting my decision...why?

Pours a light fiery nutty color, almost like an Oktoberfest. The head is huge, webby, sticky, and world class. Opacity is 20%.

Aromas of pine hops, citrus peels, caramel malts, molasses, and toffee. A surprisingly great aroma.

The's like a Brown Shugga clone. Distinct caramel sweetness, balanced nicely with pine and citrus bitters, cream, leaving a toasted toffee finish. Wonderfully balanced. A few fruity notes here and there as well, hints of apple skins. After a few gulps it starts to become a little...linear. It's not bad, but not as great as the first tastes.

Feel is refreshing yet still insanely creamy. A parchy finish.

Overall, Old Tankard hits it out of the park. Just incredible. And at $3.99 (which I assume won't last long), it's a crime. It's like a Brown Shugga Clone without the high ABV. Dangerous! My regret I spoke of? For ashamedly not buying more. Great stuff!

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Photo of Tone
3.74/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a hazy, copper color. 1/3 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of sweet malt, caramel malt, hint of pale malt, tea, English hops, and a hint of alcohol. Fits the style of an Extra Special / Strong Bitter. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. There is also a strong bitterness. Tastes of sweet malt, caramel malt, hint of pale malt, tea, slight English hops, wheat, hint of alcohol, and a hint of spicy hops. Overall, decent to good appearance, aroma, body, and blend. Honestly, much better than I anticipated.

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Photo of Redrover
3.84/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz can poured into an Imperial pint glass. The beer is red/amber a bit of a chill haze and a sticky off-white head.
Caramel malts, crackers and touch of honey. Nothing off or odd in the aroma.
The taste is slightly sweet with bready malts, a bit of plum and some pine hop bite. Can says 35 IBUs and I believe it as the mild bitterness is evident throughout the beer. There is a touch of caramel and toffee mid glass.

The mouth is decent with about the right amount of heft for this style. It does have active carbonation.

I liked this one as it is very drinkable and a $5.99 for a 4 pack a good deal. I could see drinking this one while fishing at night up at the cabin.

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Photo of flaskman
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I purchased a 4 pack at my local store for $1.99 to take to a tasting with friends as a joke. 2 days later I looked it up on BA and was kinda shocked. Went back for more an it was gone. So.... It poured a nice amber color with a generous head. It smelled very sweet and what I would call bready. The first taste was quite a surprise. It was fresh and sweet. It had a very heavy malty taste that was balanced out by the hops. It was a very good tasting well crafted beer. After reading the history of it I was glad that I took it to the tasting. What was interesting is that most of the peole I shared it with including me were hop heads and it was their first experience with a very malty ale. Without exception all 6 of us liked it.

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Photo of Uniobrew31
3.66/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep carmel brown. Nice thick, rocky head that maintains well throughout leaving nice rings of off white lacing down the glass as you drink. Smell is sweet/malty. Taste is sweet breads and spice. Nice hop profile but the sweetness was a bit much for me, I like a nice dry crisp beer so if sweet malty beers are your thing you would probably enjoy this beer. The finish is spice and sweet, almost like a old time christmas bread. Over all I would try this one again. I would probably enjoy it more when the temp dips below 95! Cheers!

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Photo of CJanders
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice translucent look,

inoffensive smell,

malty taste with some grain sweetness and very little sign of hops,

feel was light and not too thick.

Overall, a good beer for a good price. Hopefully Pabst keeps moving their secondary brands upmarket, fingers crossed for national distribution of Schlitz to come back.

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Photo of RockySasquatch
4.81/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was very surprised at the quality of Old Tankard. The ale was about 50º. I poured from a 16 oz. can into a 20 oz. glass. It was a slightly hazy dark amber color. Two fingers of thick, foamy, head. It had a sweet, hoppy aroma. Very good lacing. The taste was sweet and doughy. Very good feel. I got a good buzz off two cans, and there isn't anything wrong with that. I think my favorite thing about this ale is that it tastes as fresh in the glass after 20 minutes and it did when I first poured it. Best at 50-60º. A very enjoyable ale. Thank you, Pabst!

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Photo of JimKal
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber with a decent head and nice lacing on the drink down. It is malt forward with some nice caramel notes.
the mouthfeel is medium. I picked this up while looking for something to offset my IPA sated tastebuds and it works pretty well. For me, this is an ESB that I'll be picking up again. Really quite enjoyable.

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Pabst Old Tankard Ale from Pabst Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.8 out of 5 with 201 ratings