The Gloves Are Off Budweiser

If you haven’t been living under a rock and have any connections to someone who loves craft beer than you’ve seen the Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl last night. I was joined by close friends at Barreled Souls Brewing Company to watch the game while enjoying some home cooked chili (the mysterious crockpot #2 won BTW). The entire basement went crazy for the awesome catches and nail-biting final quarter playing from both teams (not to mention the fist fight at the end).

The big game of sports ball was afoot and some time was passed since the first play when the commercial played. This wasn’t the first commercial that Budweiser played during Super Bowl XLIX. The first one was played during the beginning of the game with clydesdale horses, cute dogs, and emotionally over-hyped beer.

When the second commercial itself played you can feel the animosity forming in the air amongst the barreled furniture and craft beer lovers. Here is the commercial in question, as well as a play-by-play from The Beer Babe here.

To sum it all up: Budweiser basically called craft beer lovers pretentious, boasted about the process & quality of their beer, all while using a bunch of buzz words and images. As soon as I saw the commercial I knew this would start an evening-long “oh, now it’s on” response from craft beer people on all social media platforms. Budweiser has successfully insulted us non-macro beer drinkers without actually affecting us as well as alienate us from macro beer drinkers.

Let’s begin by addressing some things. Budweiser played the emotional card earlier in the night with the puppy commercial which is how they normally advertise, to all ages. This new, more edgy, commercial was targeting 21-27 year olds. According to The Atlantic, Budweiser has dropped from 50 million barrels in their peak in 1988 to 16 million barrels last year. There’s no wonder why they spent millions saying ‘screw you craft beer’ as a fear-driven tactic.

In 2013, craft beer went up in production by 17.2% which must have looked awful scary to Budweiser. Earlier last year The Maine Brewers’ Guild projected an increase of 200% over the next 4 years in craft beer. Staggering. Basically, in terms of production, craft beer is going up while macro beer is going down.

I agree with Carla on this point, the ad was a great dialogue starter that should be used to make this industry stronger. Craft beer can be amazing at times. The increasing normality of going out to beer-centric places has definitely increased as of lately compared to when I turned 21 four years ago. This may be attributed to the increase in craft beer production, excellent restaurants increasing their focus on beer, or perhaps beer columns popping up in more periodicals.

I do want to bring up #BeerChat from last Thursday. #BeerChat is a weekly twitter chat that happens every Thursday at 9PM EST. Last Thursday the topic was ‘Big Business as Usual’, hinting at the heated subject of AB InBev recently purchasing Elysian Brewing Company. I asked a series of questions that led the participants to react to the purchase in general and their opinion on ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality. What surprised me was the fact that most participants wasn’t that bothered by the Elysian purchase.

The craft beer community seemed to not actually be that insulted by the Elysian purchase. Much like Goose Island they saw the purchase as a possible benefit and general business-as-usual for AB InBev. Goose Island is now distributed in every state in the US and some other countries now that they are owned by AB InBev. They also have the freedom to still brew great unique big beers like Bourbon County Stout. My hope is that Elysian will experience the same benefit so that I can buy some in Maine.

The ‘Brewed The Hard Way’ commercial essentially poked fun of Ab InBev’s own purchases in the past few years. Goose Island, Elysian, 10 Barrel, and Blue Point are all craft breweries and essentially aren’t free from the insult by their new owner.

I can’t wait for the craft beer industry to start to take some big turns this year. This ad will only motivate ‘us’ to keep growing and beating ‘them’.