A Beer “King” afraid of The Barons

Among the many HORRIBLE commercials during the XLIX Super Bowl we got to see a “big beer” company wet it’s pants in front of the world. Check it out the 2015 Budweiser Super Bowl Commercial titled “Brewed The Hard Way” and tell me I’m wrong?

NO it’s not cool to wet your pants AB, even if Adam Sandler says it is. As of this post there is 200+ likes and over 1,500+ dislikes. The comment section should have been disabled because it’s HILARIOUS. Does that tell a story? Showing beer “geeks” as hipsters with glasses and disgusting matted hair is ridiculous. If the point was to get a laugh, then AB succeeded.In late 2014, November 5 to be exact, AB announced that it would be buying 10 Barrel Brewing out of Bend, OR. I quote

“10 Barrel, its brewers, and their high-quality beers are an exciting addition to our high-end portfolio,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, Anheuser-Busch. “The brewery is a major contender in the Northwest, an area with a large number of craft breweries. We see tremendous value in the brewery’s unique offerings and differentiated style, which 10 Barrel fans know and love.”

Not so bad right? I mean they’ve only been around for about 8-9 years. I never heard of them until the announcement. Not so much of a “threat” to the craft ecosystem. But, on January  23 of this year AB announced that it was set to buy Elysian Brewing out of Seattle. A company that has been brewing craft beer for 20 years.

“Elysian’s story includes everything we look for in a partner,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, Anheuser-Busch. “The team has spent their careers brewing distinctive beers in the thriving West Coast beer community and building unique venues that celebrate beer. As the fastest growing brewer in Washington, their recipe is working. Elysian’s brands are an important addition to our high-end beer portfolio, and we look forward to working together.”

This irks me the wrong way. And is a similar tactic corporations like Microsoft, Google and Yahoo use to help “change” their image as a corporate aloof giant into a swift moving fox. Fine. Buy up all the sell-outs.Listen up AB, the consumer is smarter. You can’t insult them by wrapping your arms around your “macro” image and saying that those that enjoy the intricacies of more complex beers are dopes. (Well, let’s face it water is more complex, but I digress) At the same time you also buy up craft breweries. I’m sure the owners of the “craft” breweries you bought were writhing in their beds last night.

I basically get from the TV spot is that Budweiser is for those who like to drink, like a lot, and by a lot I mean 20 beers in one sitting. “A cheap buzz” as the saying goes. And for those that don’t like to chug their beers, or do keg stands or go to raves, we can keep the good stuff to ourselves.

Let’s also look another aspect of AB’s tactics to keep craft breweries at bay, lobbying against them. We currently see that with Florida. There’s a nice article on Institution Ale that has a whole bunch of information regarding the issue.

We have asked for reasonable changes to state law to allow us to start filling half gallon growlers (the industry standard) in our taproom and to allow for beer tastings in stores where it is currently illegal.

Our opposition – Anheuser-Busch wholesalers and their lobbyist Mitch Rubin – have proposed a “compromise” that is punitive and will severely stunt and possibly end the growth of the vibrant Florida craft brewing industry.

While we don’t get involved in the politicking of the world here on TBM it is interesting that they’re trying to keep craft breweries from selling direct to consumer one of the most popular sizes of containers available. As brewpubs, that’s exactly what 10 Barrel and Elysian have been doing for years and a part of how they grew. Nicely hypocritical AB.If AB spent as much money on the real quality of their beer as they do in marketing, lobbying and other similar endorsements, they might have a good, not great, product. Until then “lawnmower beer” is what I’ll drink if I don’t want to offend a host. But, I’ll die a little bit inside each time.

So guess what AB, you can also keep whatever breweries you buy to yourselves, I’ll continue to think the relationship between the dogs and the horses is a little staged but cute and I’ll continue to laugh at your attempts to mock the craft beer community.

Yes, the beer glass has dropped.

-TBM.Chris @thebarleymen

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