Fussy beer drinkers unite! Budweiser fails again

Most people seem to agree that yesterday’s Super Bowl commercials were hugely disappointing. One or two ads were kind of funny, but overall it was a totally unremarkable day in that regard. The day after, a lot of beer lovers are talking about the Budweiser commercial that seemed to attack craft brewers and beer connoisseurs. Beyond that, it seemed to be a gutless slap in the face of Elysian Brewing, which it recently acquired.

I can only imagine how happy it makes Anheuser-Busch’s advertising department, which I envision to be an organization the size of Boeing, to wake up the morning after the Super Bowl and know that intelligent, fussy beer drinkers like us are talking about them. Although I understand the outrage, I think we should just ignore them.

But, if we’re not going to ignore them, then I’m going to talk about them. Kind of hypocritical, I know. Also, it’s pathetic, really. They just can’t get out of their own way. I do not mean to make light of any of the larger issues at hand, especially as related to Elysian Brewing, which has every right in the world to be upset. So, with tongue firmly in cheek…

I won’t do them the service of posting the video here. You can find it on your own if you want or need.

Less Beer Drinkers, More Beer Thinkers

The commercial’s basic message was, “We make beer for people who don’t think and just drink.” Yes, as a person who actually thinks, it is hard not to feel attacked. But we shouldn’t be surprised; the folks at Budweiser are getting kind of desperate as they near the edge of their flat earth.

Here’s where Budweiser is running into a problem. There are fewer and fewer people who just want to drink and don’t want to think. Budweiser knows this. While overall beer sales nationwide have declined in recent years, the craft segment of the beer industry continues to grow at an impressive rate.

I'm proud to fuss over my beer. How about you?
I’m proud to fuss over my beer. How about you?

Of the declining number of people who describe themselves as beer drinkers, more and more of them are choosing to drink beer they can “dissect.” You know, “fussy” beer. Every year, there are less beer drinkers but more beer thinkers.

Budweiser – The Hippest Non-Hipster Beer

Intentional irony is perhaps the most endearing of all hipster qualities. If true, then Budweiser is suddenly so hip it can hardly keep its pants up.  Then again, there’s a fine line between ironic and really, really stupid, so I don’t know.

Many people are upset about the commercial’s reference to pumpkin-peach ale as an example of an overly fussy, thinker’s beer. Most well-informed beer thinkers know that Elysian Brewing—recently assimilated by Anheuser-Busch—champions the art of brewing pumpkin beer, hosts the largest pumpkin beer fest anyone has ever seen, and makes a number of different pumpkin ales each year. Elysian actually brewed a pumpkin-peach beer last year.

Maybe breweries across the nation should all brew pumpkin-peach ales as a show of solidarity. Just a thought. We could have a festival focused on fussy beers: Fussy Fest, Pumpkin-Peach Ale Festival. “Join us for an evening of thinking, drinking, over-analyzing, dissecting and discussing beer.”

On one hand, calling out pumpkin-peach was a slap in Elysian’s face. On the other, the joke is on Budweiser for how deeply it stuck its foot in its mouth. Either way, they screwed the pooch on that one.

Mr. Budweiser, advertising is your core competency (not brewing), so how the hell did you get this one so wrong?

I’m guessing that even Budweiser now thinks it was a mistake to mention pumpkin-peach instead of wassabi-mango. Then again, maybe they intended to be ironic at Elysian’s expense. I mean, they had to know, right? The commercial was probably already in the can, so I’m giving them a bit of a break. But not really. Heartless, inconsiderate dicks.

So, Mr. Budweiser, you invited this criticism. If you believe that things like pumpkin-peach beer are so stupid, why did you assimilate Elysian and the other craft breweries you’ve gobbled up in recent years?

Obviously, regardless of the commercial’s message, Anheuser-Busch thinks there is some merit to this newfangled “craft beer thing” that all the kids are talking about these days-—pumpkin-peach, wassabi-mango, hippieflux-elderflower, and all the rest of it. They mock it, but they want a piece of that action. I’m afraid they cannot have it both ways. We’re not buying it.

Fiercely Fussy

Nice try, Mr. Budweiser. You wanted to make us feel stupid for fussing over our beer. Fail. We like to drink beers we can think about. We prefer beers that taste like something and we do not recognize “crisp” and “smooth” as flavors. We love to fuss over our beers and there is an ever-increasing number of us.

It’s hard to imagine how you could have possibly distanced yourself any further from the hearts of the growing number of beer thinkers in the world, but you’ve done it.

Sure, Mr. Budweiser, we’re talking about you this morning, but only because we think it is amusing to watch you kick and scream as you sink deeper and deeper into the vast, widening maelstrom of your irrelevance.

Your efforts seem so desperate and futile, you’ve almost earned our pity. We are amazed at how disconnected you are. How out of touch. How quickly you’ve become so old and irrelevant.

You’d be wise to leave us alone. Better to ignore us than ignite our ire. Your only hope at long-term survival is to target mindless meat-heads instead of us fussy beer-thinkers.

Get back to your core competency.  Two words: Bikini Team.

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  1. Bummer of a situation. I saw a rumor in one thread that Dick was actually against the sale, but was out-voted (?) Would love some intrepid reported to follow up to see if that’s true.

    Check out the Budweiser FB page for an excellent example of corporate PR flacks going into damage-control mode by posting a giant sequence of favorable comments (probably using fake accounts, or employees, or whatever) to roll the TENS OF THOUSANDS of angry comments off the first page.


  2. Brian, there’s been tons of stuff done on this topic. Much more in depth than I’ve done. I am, maybe, a bit too close to this one to be intrepid or objective.

  3. Well put Kendall, I immediately thought the same thing when that commercial aired…I mean why call out craft beer drinkers and try to be a bully? It’s almost like name-calling the folks you are apparently trying to make a buck off of by buying Elysian, Goose Is, etc. I’ve been anti AB for a long time (more as a personal protest because of corporate practice and the fact they are proud enough of the fact that rice is one of the main ingredients that they put it right on the can!), and the last few years have only strengthened my resolve. I haven’t bought one Starbuck’s coffee since the Sonics left and I don’t need a giant behemoth of a brewer to sell me beer and laugh behind my back!

  4. It’s pretty obvious that AB does not give a flying f about craft brew aficionados, and those same aficionados most likely won’t be tipping many Bud’s in the near future. AB can’t miss with their smarmy, smart-assed approach. It hits their target market right where they live, aiming for their disdain button. And when AB wants the craft market? Well, we saw what they did last week… they buy it.

    All in all, though, let’s maintain heart. You can’t fake good taste… in beer or life.

    Thanks for the great coverage of this interesting field.

  5. I wonder how the traditional bud drinkers take it? Was this commercial an attempt to strengthen their resolve and slow the declining sales? … Your beer still kicks ass (tastes like water) don’t let these “craft beer snobs” tell you otherwise, take a stand!

    I don’t think it really matters though, that commercial was laughable, brewed the hard way? Come on down to Double Mountain and put a day on the floor with me and then let’s talk about brewing the hard way.

  6. Bud appeals to the same people that think Applebees is fine dining. Flavor doesn’t matter,, conforming to the sameness of everyone else does. It’s ideal for the lazy. You don’t have to think, you just buy it, open a can and drink.

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