It is building to be the biggest talking point in brewing history since Grog the Caveman looked at his foaming bowl of wet, fermenting grain and said to his mate; “I dare you to drink that”.
It’s the Superbowl 3rd quarter, 60 second advertisement for Budweiser that A-B Inbev paid 9 million dollars for and it’s shaping up like Beards vs Bogans at 50 paces. Is the ad a pisstake, meant to poke a bit of fun at non-mainstream drinkers or is it an attempt to shore up support for a brand which is suffering the biggest threat to its seemingly invincible dominance of the American beer market?
Some have suggested that A-B Inbev have sought to deliberately mock the hipsters and tickers who chase the thrill of the beery new while trying to deflect attention from the plummeting sales numbers. Matt Kirkegaard looked at the issue last week and asked whether this is just craft beer getting a serve of its own medicine.
Let’s look at just a few of the key elements of the ‘drama’ and then you, as knowledgeable readers and discerning drinkers can make your own judgement. The first point that needs to be made clear is that, once you begin pointing fingers and engaging marketing firms there are just two incontestable outcomes;
- When you point a finger, you have three more pointing back at you and,
- A marketing company will invariably have little or no knowledge of/interest in/passion for your product.
Take, for example, the proud boast by A-B Inbev that Bud is “proudly a macro beer”. Is this a bit like the African-American Gangstas reclaiming the ‘N’ word or nerds and geeks taking back what was once a term of derision? Is being proudly ‘big’ meant to make us think that that makes them intrinsically ‘better’. How does Big Beer feel about breweries like Sierra Nevada, Boston Beer Co and even Stone Brewing seeking to increase their volumes while maintaining their ‘craft cred’?
Budweiser is also a beer that is not to be ‘fussed over’ apparently, although, in the same sentence, they highlight the ‘beechwood aging’ forgetting that most of their drinkers would be unable to extol the procedural virtues of such a revered and specialised brewing process. We could try to explain it but, really, it’s a bit….what’s the word? Hmm? Fussy?
Not content at having a crack at the ‘enemy’ who want to sip, smell, savour and enjoy the taste, flavour and texture of the beer they have laid out their hard-earned on, Bud then arrogantly ‘waves their private parts at you empty-headed animal food-trough wiper!’. You and your silly Pumpkin Peach Ales! Ha! I fart in your general direction!
[Siimon, Siimon! Didn’t our company just buy that Elysian Brewery thingy? Don’t they make a Pumpkin Peach Ale? Whatever that is! Whoopsy!]
In other words, A-B Inbev welcomes drinkers of beers brewed by one of its own breweries by suggesting they really should be downing gallons of ‘golden suds’ that have been ‘brewed the hard way’ and which have no redeeming features other than a ‘crisp smooth finish’. Bam! That’ll learn ya!
So Bud, on the one hand taking back-handed swipes at craft beer drinkers is, on the other hand, happily gobbling up craft beer breweries and then wishing to pit one against the other until…what? We all give up or battle to the death and then shift to cider? One can only think that the Bud drinkers will keep on doing what they do (unthinkingly swallow ‘golden suds’ wrapped in marketing hyper-bullplop) happily dismissing craft beer drinkers as pretentious bearded walters while the usual gang of craft beer Twatterers and Farcebookers will cry ‘foul!’ and want something done about that ‘awful boy from sixth form who keeps teasing us, sir!’
Let’s take a breath – and a long slow draught of something hoppy – and let the fuss die down. We don’t need to point out the flaws in the claims and counter-claims of Big Beer advertising 101. We don’t need to get all upset and make manifest our solemn indignation. We just need to take a beer from our fridge or in a glass from our pub and look at it. Then drink it. Then think about what the Bud guys are doing. Then smile. The proof of the pudding – IS the pudding.
So, in conclusion, we, as craft beer drinkers, enjoyers of flavour, seekers of taste and devotees of deliciousness, must remember the most salient lesson in this whole shenanigans. We must turn the other cheek. We must ignore the taunts of the playground ruffian. We must smile politely at the name-callers. We must not be drawn down to their level. Most importantly, we must never mock nor attempt to take the piss out of macro beer.
They are doing a fine job of that themselves.