Nov 13, 2012

Is "Black" the new "Light"?

How did light beer become manly?
Years ago, the beer industry seemed to figure out, if you could convince people that the light, crisp flavorful lagers they enjoyed were just too "filling" or heavy, and that a watered down, even lighter, less potent version of the same thing was the "manly" alternative. They were so successful at doing this, now "light" beers are ubiquitous, and dominate the majority of the space on  store shelves, as well as a majority of the hearts and minds of the American populous.

Fritz Maytag
Then thank the good Lord for folks like Fritz Maytag (Anchor Brewing) that shed a little light on craft beer, and brought something other than the fizzy yellow, weak watery beer that made up most of the beer sold in the states post WWII to the masses.

Well, now it seems, although light beers from the Big 3 (actually the big 2 now) make up a majority of the beer sold nationwide, beer sales are actually down year after year for the last few years. However, craft beer sales have continued to increase over the last half a dozen years or so. So, it seems we are drinking less beer these days, but when we do drink beer, we are looking towards "better" crafted, artisan beers. Craft beer still makes up less then 10% of the market, but its growing! Light beer isn't going away anytime soon, that is also obvious.

Its just Coors, don't be fooled...
This seems to have the big boys a little worried. Over the years, we have seen the big brewers trying to chip away at and gain back the support of craft beer drinkers. Most noticeably, Coors offered us Blue Moon, and the whole "Moon" light up from its "Tenth and Blake" craft and import beer division. ABInBev (Anheuser Busch) has tried with such offerings as Bud Light Golden Wheat, Shock Top, and most recently Bud Light Platinum among others. While these beers have seen at least marginal success, they have failed to tap the lucrative craft beer market. All they really did was give light lager drinkers more options of the same stuff in my opinion. They also seem to appeal to the people that think the craft beer movement is kind of cool, and want to be a part of it, but have no idea what craft beer really is. Case in point, I had a conversation with a friend a while back, and she stated, quite passionatly that "the big brewers can't produce a quality beer. The bigger the brewery, the worse the beer. You will never see a great quality beer like Blue Moon coming out of a mega brewery". I didn't have the heart to tell her that Blue Moon, is in fact brewed at not just A large brewery, but THE LARGEST single site brewery, not in America, but in the world. So, well, I guess there is a slight flaw in her logic, just slight.

Well, it seems the next step in this movement to make better shitty beer is, well, go black. ABInBev is hoping people like the sound of "black" beer. Now, when I hear black beer, I think of a dark stout, or a black IPA, something that is actually black. Well, black, to the big boys, means, well, just means more of the same I guess. They are releasing Budweiser Black Crown, as well as Busch Black Light Lager. Neither of which, from the VERY vague description I've read, refer to the color of the beer, but rather the color of the label. In fact, its still hard to find anything the company will actually say about BL Platinum, other then the fact that it comes in a blue bottle, something they seem to think is more important then what it tastes like. All it really says about Black Crown is that it is "distinctively smooth and beechwood finished". Well, I think Gold Canyon Ice Tea is distinctively smooth, as is water from my RO filtration system. Beechwood finished? I've never tasted any wood flavors at all in Bud, let alone enough of it to actually tell what kind of wood it was. Beechwood finished sounds more like a description for a kitchen cabinet, not a beer, or beer like product. It does have an "ass kicking" 6% abv! However, that isn't enough to get a glance from the craft beer community. Now a days, 9% is considered pedestrian to the craft beer drinkers. 6% is almost considered NA beer.

One can never have enough shitty beer!
OK, am I going to come out and say that this beer will suck? No, I won't go that far. I will reserve my opinions for when I actually have had a sip of it. However, given AB's passed attempts to lure me away from the amazing beers I have had over the last 10 years, I am not going to get my hopes up too high on these. It seems to me, everything that AB has released since Bud Light back in 1982, have all just been slight variations on either Bud Light, or Budweiser. They just ad a little lime (BL Lime), or remove a few calories (Select), or remove a few calories and and almost all of the flavor (Select 55, not even beer in my opinion, seriously), or just change the name of a beer without any real perceptible change at all (Bud Silver, Bud Extra, Bud 66). Or just take Bud Light, and throw in some shit to make it absolutely undrinkable (Bud Light Chelada, honestly, the absolute worst beer I have ever tasted. I can't say drank, because I don't think I actually ever swallowed it, I spit it out, seriously).

Hands down, the worst beer I've ever tasted!

Again, given their history, I won't get excited. I won't even go out of my way to try it. I wouldn't mind trying it, I do mind paying for it, so I'll have to find a free sample somewhere, or a misguided, albeit well intentioned friend that is trying to win me over to the value of Budweiser products. Yeah, its not going to work. Nice try AB InBev, maybe next time???

Until next time my friends,
Bottoms up
The Beer Czar

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