How a Conspiracy to Raise Beer Prices Invented Hipsters

Hipsters! Aren't they a wacky breed? No one thinks they are one, everyone has different definitions of what they are, and -- despite the fact that hipsters pioneered the "homeless librarians wearing Oktoberfest hats" aesthetic -- absolutely nobody wants to fuck them. In fact, one of the few defining hipster traits we can nail down is that they drink cheap beer, specifically Pabst Blue Ribbon.

How a Conspiracy to Raise Beer Prices Invented Hipstersswanksalot
It keeps their neckbeards curly.

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Hell, Pabst has now become so big, a new report found that its high-demand status was pushing up the sales prices for all the other terrible beers out there.

How a Conspiracy to Raise Beer Prices Invented Hipsters
First the hipsters ruin beer, then they ruin Revolutionary War re-enactment.

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It's really the biggest victory for this shit quaff since they obtained their namesake blue ribbon in the 1893 Columbian Exposition, a beer competition that was no doubt the secret historical force behind Prohibition. It was only stupid luck that they got a second boost with their new, "ironic" notoriety.

Or was it?

Let's go back 10 years to a simpler time when "tweeting" was the sound birds made and "tagging" was something special between three consenting adults. 2003 was also when author Robert Lanham came out with The Hipster Handbook.

How a Conspiracy to Raise Beer Prices Invented HipstersAmazon.com
You can buy it here for the low price of being the literal devil.

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At this point we had already been privy to the lifestyle thanks to pieces from The New York Times and Time Out New York. They spoke of "bohemian" types and "visual artists" living in gentrified areas in Brooklyn. But Lanham was one of the first to casually mention the fact that bike couriers and coffee shop artists were drinking Pabst.

It also marks the definitive mainstream introduction of the title "hipster" as we know it today, putting its origin somewhere between 2000 and 2003. It should be noted that Lanham wrote for both Time Out New York and The New York Times, putting him right at the pivotal hub of the hipster dawning.

How a Conspiracy to Raise Beer Prices Invented HipstersThe Berlin Hipster Festival, 2012
Not to be confused with this hipster awning.

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Now let's turn it back to PBR.

It's 2000, and you've been hired on as the senior brand manager for a company that has never been less popular. Current marketing for your product is purely regionally based and mostly ineffective due to a terrible budget.

But you notice something: Kid Rock is wearing a belt buckle with your brand on it. You realize that the true power of your old-timey logo is helping skuzzy-faced abominations siphon undeserved attention like superego-infused Chupacabras.

How a Conspiracy to Raise Beer Prices Invented HipstersDuane Burdick
Pictured here, probably.

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So you begin to go hands-on. You drive to the bars with your brand in the window, meet the sideburned and trucker-hatted people who buy your product, and slip them a key chain or a pin or two. Then, as you slowly gain personal recognition, you start tossing out a little cash, all the while keeping your image as that "ironic" underdog they love so much.

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Your company cash starts being used to sponsor "ironic" activities like kickball tournaments and bike courier races, terrible art openings and dodgeball matches. Now this group is not only consuming your product, but also being shaped by it. As you choose which activities to support, you are becoming the sustaining pillar that now embraces the counterculture you yourself cultivated.

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Congratulations -- your name is Neal Stewart, and you just created the neo-hipster culture.

How a Conspiracy to Raise Beer Prices Invented HipstersNeal Stewart
You're going to need a lot more of those beers.

It's true. See -- we didn't actually have to connect any dots because PBR flat out told everyone that they purposely put their brand in the hands of hipsters years ago. As Stewart quietly walked the shadows of Chicago, New York, and of course Portland, he was purposefully looking for those small nooks with old arcade games and art openings filled with tight jeans and Buddy Holly glasses.

The fact that a beer company pretty much fueled the hipster movement actually makes a shitload of sense when you consider that it's so undefined that no one can identify with it, and those who do identify look like they got dressed while drunk. So now can we all PLEASE take off the fedoras and put down the Schlitz before they start charging like it's organically brewed? Hobos need to drink, too.