The Newest Craft Brewery: Budweiser?November 8, 2012
The first thing that comes to mind when you think “Craft Beer” is Budweiser right? You know, the “King of Beers” pumping out cases and cases of mildly flavored (Bud Heavy) and barely flavored (Bud Light) low cost commodity beer. Yeah those guys…I mean..
Well, with their latest attempt to break away from this reputation and to re-gain some footing in a market they, despite still owning a major share in have seen change since the true craft beer movement has taken off, Anheuser Busch InBev has just announced the soon to be launch of their newest product, the higher alcohol containing Black Crown. American consumers have been demanding unique, flavor packed beers and seasonal/local products like never before and while some of the smaller and medium size contenders still can’t compete when it comes to price, the gap has diminished without question. With price points within the same ballpark and a basic understanding of how higher alcohol content beers priced higher, still often provide a better “deal” (let’s call this metric “buzz for your buck”), it has become very easy to ignore the Budweiser offerings (unless of course your hipster friends find it ironic to drink American flag cans).
I myself actually enjoy a good Budweiser from now and again. Out of all the, what I consider, commodity beers, I enjoy the classic Bud the most. But recently, with the launch of their slightly higher alcohol Bud Light Platinum and now with the newest news of the Black Crown launch, it’s sort of fascinating to see the Anheusuer Busch team having to truly compete (arguably as an underdog) for the first time in years. What can’t be ignored, is that despite our preferences for higher quality beers (which do indeed typically have more alcohol), a major driver in our love for craft beer is that it is indeed “craft”. Finding local breweries to support or rare offerings from some of the small guys distributing nationally is as much a part of the craft beer movement as the beer itself. Take for example, our visit to Captain Lawrence the other day. Yes, their beer was delicious, but the fact that they are making the stuff a mile away from where I work, in a friggin corporate park warehouse, contributes tremendously to my enjoyment of their beer. As a home-brewer, you connect and root for these types of efforts. Now compare that to the backlash against Sam Adams over the years. Despite being one of the most inspiring success stories, Sam Adams brewing can barely be considered craft at this point. They do a hell of a job marketing themselves that way however, and continue to reap the benefits of straddling that thin line.
Without having tried the Black Crown it’s tough to say whether or not I will even have an opinion on the success or failure of the launch. Some of the intense beer snobs may scoff at the launch, but to me, there can never be enough good beer in the market. So let’s at least hope they’ve done their homework on the taste. But after that, I’m mainly curious to see how quickly and with what consumer base the Black Crown will appeal to. What about you guys? How do you feel about picking up a six-pack of Budweiser Black Crown versus those cans of Six Point Sweet Action?