A-B Goes for the Ale

It’s not a faux craft – it’s not yellow fizzy; it’s ‘American Ale’

Anheuser-Busch is releasing American Ale this week; a hoppier, more amber-colored version of its older sibling Budweiser which is second only to bestselling Bud Light.

The nation’s largest brewer hopes that the ale will woo new drinkers who may not have reached for the brand before, said Dave Peacock, vice president of marketing for Anheuser-Busch Cos.

Anheuser-Busch’s move is part of its strategy to innovate off core brands Budweiser and Bud Light. The value of those brands is one reason that Belgian brewer InBev cited when it made a $52 billion deal for Anheuser-Busch this past summer.

The push to spin new products off staple brands comes as large, domestic brewers, including No. 2 player MillerCoors Llc., go after drinkers who are increasingly snubbing big-name brands. Those drinkers are looking for more variety and niche products, often from craft brewers. MillerCoors had hoped to release a trio of craft styles of top seller Miller Lite nationally this fall, with an ale among them. But the company has since backed out of that, saying it needs to rethink the effort.

A six-pack of the new American Ale will cost about $1.50 more than a six-pack of Budweiser or Bud Light, Anheuser-Busch says.

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Comments

  1. Laughing Dog says

    Ok so I had this at a bar and an at festival this weekend in Seattle
    I have an open mind and the bar owner shared this with a bunch of us
    beer folks and patrons alike
    here is our thoughts on the bottle version
    These are actual comments at a bar in Seattle

    “Wow I had this just when I started home brewing”
    “UMM did they prime with too much corn sugar?”
    “Cider that’s not what I ordered”
    “ok are they trying to make people believe that craft beer tastes like this so they will go back to bud light?”
    “ I thought there would be hops in this”

    This was too funny until I thought of something else
    A-B is not trying to capture the craft market they are trying to destroy it! I am serious people go buy some and try it they are trying to get their customers to say if that’s craft beer I am going back to bud light, what a marketing tactic

  2. admin says

    Pacific Ridge was different because it made no mention of being an A-B brand. That is what I refer to as a “faux-craft.”

    American Ale is very different from any of the previous “craft” attempts by the majors because it places their signature name – not A-B, but Budweiser – on the brand.

    I would think if they were trying to get consumers to try a “craft” and then divert the drinker back to Bud by creating a poor tasting beer, they would not put their iconic brand name on it. I think this is a sincere attempt to capture drinkers who have shifted to craft and keep them in the Budweiser family — and also to provide the A-B distribution network with a higher margin, higher price-point beer.

    By the way, Pacific Ridge was a pretty good beer actually. But it still didn’t work. And I don’t think this will either. Of all the many, many attempts by the majors over the years to capture the craft market, only one has had any real success; Blue Moon.

    Admin

  3. Jephro says

    Laughing Dog wrote: Ok so I had this at a bar and an at festival this weekend in Seattle

    What did you think of it?? I would sooner trust the palette of a fellow probrewer more than the second hand quotes of a bunch of barflies in Seattle. I always want to try new A-B “Craft Stuff” but just cannot bring myself to actually give my money to A-B. They always sent the Michelob guys to Brew Fests in the St. Louis area where i got the try their wares. It was usually a very fair (in some cases dare i say good) representation of the style, but as you may guess some were a bit watered down. After all, you don’t become that big by being incompetent. That is achieved by “selling out”.

  4. Laughing Dog says

    Well My quote was actually in there and the barflies in question were Beer distribution folks ( sales People and Brokers)
    this is was my thought “Wow I had this just when I started home brewing”

    that was from the bottle when I tried the draft at the festival it was exactly the same, other brewers that I was with had similar comments, the conclusion at the end was a group discussion about A-B trying to keep people out of the craft sector by driving them back to Bud Light
    If this is A-B’s best attempt at a craft style brew then I think they failed miserably and the beer will be gone from the market soon.

    LDB

  5. Jephro says

    Laughing Dog wrote:
    If this is A-B’s best attempt at a craft style brew then I think they failed miserably and the beer will be gone from the market soon.
    LDB

    I don’t doubt that…
    It seems to me they start with a good beer and then tweak it for that “mass appeal” and end up with something that does not fit either market. Remember Bud Select?? They actually made it with 2-row barley. My old roomate used to buy Select, and IMO was really not that bad…but, it was free too:rolleyes:

  6. jjs says

    I don’t think that ABINBEV is making an attempt to make rotten beer. They are market share freaks and this beer is an attempt to keep a customer. Let’s face it, if they wanted to make a kick ass beer they could. Never tred it but I’m sure it’s desingned for exsisting customer base. No one from our base will touch it. What was there “wit” beer called. I bought it without knowing who made it. I just saw Belgain and went for it. Watery soap I thaught. ABINBEV can not take away our patrons but will do everything they can to maintain theirs

  7. Black Point says

    Personally the way I look at this is that they want their core market to try and taste what “the other side” (craft brews) have to offer so they try to make a similar beer. Personally I think more and more people will go into brewpubs and rather than saying “do you have anything that taste like Budweiser?” they will ask “got anything that taste like the American Ale” but that’s just my 2¢

  8. Jpickett says

    I agree with the ABINVEV is market freaks and “tried” to make a craft beer. While I have not tasted the American Ale, it is my belief in the few years I have followed the beer industry that they will do anything to get into a market in which they do not control the highest percentile of. I don’t expect much whenever they come out with anything new much less for any of the big brands.

  9. ancienbrasseur says

    The big boys most assuredly have the talent & equipment to brew whatever they wish. Unlike the craft segment, there are allot of suits between the taste panels & what wears the companies logo. They purposefully “engineer” their products to be an intermediary, taking the safe route to appeal to the status Quo. Their modus operandi is to move volume, as opposed to testing the limits of marketability. Given the big boys limitations, I cant imagine that they would successfully convert any micro brand loyalist. I know a couple brewers that have worked for macro-breweries, it surprising some of the large-micro brands they have contracts with. IMHO, the aforementioned brands that are getting some help from the large mash tuns of the corporate breweries have lost some of their soul, as compared to their humble beginnings (probably due to their ridiculous filtering regiments). On the positive, some of their technology does trickle down into the craft industry. be thankful that as craft brewers, there isn’t a ton of red tape between the malt room & the bright tank.

  10. Graydon says

    AB didn’t get to be a giant by sleeping on the job! AB doesn’t waste money on things that don’t fit their plan. I believe that the public’s taste preference is being altered by the craft segment, and AB wishes to stay ahead of its competitors. Think of The craft beer alliance (Widmere, Redhook, Kona) AB owns a percentage of these brands and distributes them. If a sizable portion of the beer drinkers decide they like IPA BUD will make IPA.:eek:

    Graydon
    I have worked at many small breweries and AB LA.
    Presently starting a small brewery in Spokane.

  11. Jephro says

    Ok, so i gave in and had a pint of it while at a sports bar last sunday. When the server brought it over to me my 2 buddies at the table (who are fellow ProBrewers too) just stared at me in shock with a WTF look on their faces. I replied “oh shut-up you have been drinking PBR and Grapefruit all day” their sunday ritual. Anyway we passed it around the table and agreed it was actually a decent Budweiser brew. Tasted like an Amber Ale Light or maybe an Irish Red Light, but the hops profile was almost completely absent. (but better than PBR and grapefruit IMHO) I’m curious if they entered it in GABF, and if so what category they chose, because it didn’t really seem like it would fit anywhere.

    It could actually work well as a Gateway Beer for the Bud drinkers, maybe they will grow taste buds and start enjoying beer with flavor. And don’t get me wrong, i still view A-B as the McDonald’s/Starbucks of the brewing industry, but as has been said before “imitation is the highest form of flattery”.

  12. einhorn says

    There seems to be a lot wrong with this idea/brand right from the beginning. Jephro titled his post well – “craft light”. This will probably be the reason for the early demise of this product – trying to create a taste that all should like, which is wrong to begin with. I think that they are targeting the Newcastle crowd, but this (true and historic) brand has character, unlike Bud Ale.

    AB should have brought this out (or a decent brown ale) YEARS ago, as an ale from AB or any American brewery is spot on, but I think that they will play “catch-up” for a long time if they don’t run out of breath first.

  13. brewbong says

    Even though BUD is now Belgian beer by proxy, this will not work. I think that this is some sort of assertion from the new bosses that we can show you how it is done, that is; manipulate the American market. Anybody remember the timely release of “Bare-knuckle Stout”? The same principal applies in the question “would you buy a Fillet Mignon from Walmart?” Hell no! You go to the butcher, or at least a good grocery butcher. Bare-knuckle was pretty good as I remember but who’s gonna’ buy it?

  14. beertje46 says

    Jephro wrote: Ok, so i gave in and had a pint of it while at a sports bar last sunday. When the server brought it over to me my 2 buddies at the table (who are fellow ProBrewers too) just stared at me in shock with a WTF look on their faces. I replied “oh shut-up you have been drinking PBR and Grapefruit all day” their sunday ritual. Anyway we passed it around the table and agreed it was actually a decent Budweiser brew. Tasted like an Amber Ale Light or maybe an Irish Red Light, but the hops profile was almost completely absent. (but better than PBR and grapefruit IMHO) I’m curious if they entered it in GABF, and if so what category they chose, because it didn’t really seem like it would fit anywhere.

    It could actually work well as a Gateway Beer for the Bud drinkers, maybe they will grow taste buds and start enjoying beer with flavor. And don’t get me wrong, i still view A-B as the McDonald’s/Starbucks of the brewing industry, but as has been said before “imitation is the highest form of flattery”.

    Seriously, PBR & grapefruit juice?

    One of my co-workers tried the American Ale over the weekend and had the same comment: good light amber ale with little or no hop character.

  15. HubCity says

    sadly you now have me wondering what PBR and Grapefruit juice tastes like. I know what PBR and V8 are like together and like that so why not?