Showing posts with label anheuser busch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anheuser busch. Show all posts

Friday, April 7, 2017

In Praise of Budweiser

It had been a busy morning. Up early to get the big shop done before the hoardes descended upon the local supermarket we had chosen to go to, run all the errands that needed doing so that the rest of the day could be as chilled out as possible. With a thorough disinclination to cook lunch, we popped into one of our favourite bars here in Charlottesville for a bite to eat, hoping there would be space at the bar. Thankfully Beer Run had the requisite space at its bar and we took up residence and perused the beer menu....

I was in a distinctly lagerish mood, and we had considered heading to Beer Run's sister place, Kardinal Hall as they have the magnificent Rothaus Pils always on tap. Yes you read that correctly, the finest pilsner in all of Germany is always on tap in Charlottesville, Virginia. Sadly they would not open for another couple of hours, so that wasn't an option.

I don't know about other folks, but there are times when only a lager will suit my mood, when all I want is the clean snap of a technically proficient bottom fermented beer, something cracker dry that just cuts through the gunk of life and leaves me refreshed. This day at Beer Run, only one beer on the this met these requirements, but I was hesitant as I had never ordered it on draft before, actually thinking about it, I can't think of that many places where I have even seen it on draft. That beer was Budweiser, the American one, not one of the Czech ones, and Beer Run knowing me as they do, brought me a 20oz pint of it.

I am assuming that this particular pint was brewed just down the road at Anheuser-Busch's Williamburg brewery and so there is no irony whatsoever in the 'drink local' beer mat, especially if people are happy to called Stone in Richmond, Green Flash in Virginia Beach, and soon to be Deschutes in Roanoke, 'local'. As I said, this was the first time I can ever remember ordering a full pint of Budweiser in a bar, though I recently reviewed the bottled version here, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Attempting to put to one side all those inherent craft prejudices and focus on the beer itself in the glass, I plunged on in.

It hit the spot. Cold, though not ice cold, clean, crisp, cracker dry, and with a short, sharp finish. It was perfect, absolutely perfect for the mood I was in at the moment. I didn't want to be challenged, I didn't want to prove my craft credentials and feel worthy of drinking a beer, I didn't want to wrap my head round a muddle of flavours and aromas that may or may not have been intentional. I wanted a lager that was expertly brewed, technically solid, and through which quality brewing science shone, and this was that beer in that moment. I can't comment on how the beer changed as it lingered in the glass, because it didn't linger, 4 mouthfuls saw to the pint quite handily. One thing I noticed about the draft version over the canned version was that the draft felt much less fizzy, and the beer was greatly improved by that fact.

So there we go, I doubt I will ever become a regular Bud drinker when I am out in the watering holes of the United States, but neither will I shy away from ordering it on tap if I faced with a bank of IPAs of indeterminate provenance. Funny what happens when we overcome our prejudices and snobbery.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Original Budweiser?

Look at this label.

Clearly the label dates from the period of Budweiser's history when it was brewed by Anheuser-Busch for Carl Conrad's company, C. Conrad & Co. As such it belongs to the period between 1876 and 1882, when Conrad went bankrupt and the brand become the property of Anheuser-Busch in their own right.

I find this label fascinating for one simple reason, the description of the beer, which reads, for those unversed in German:
"Budweiser lager beer, brewed from the finest Saaz hops and Bohemian malt for C.Conrad & Co..."
Why is that interesting? The use of Saaz hops and Bohemian malt for a start, and also the absence of rice, beechwood aging, or anything else that modern Budweiser is well known for.

Was Budweiser originally an all malt lager, made with Czech hops? If that were so, it certainly sounds much closer to the Czech lagers I came to love in my decade in Prague. That in itself raises further questions, when did rice come into the picture, and when did they switch to German hops instead of Saaz?

If anyone has definitive answers I'd love to know.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Of Vitriol and Bile

The announcement earlier this week that Devils Backbone had agreed to being sold to Anheuser-Busch brought a topic that has been pottering around my head for while now to the fore. While Tandleman noted on my previous post about Twitter being fairly quiet about the deal, other social media outlets have been a veritable cesspool of bile and hatred. Take for example these comments from Devils Backbone's Facebook page:
"Sell out. Won't get a cent from me again."
"You sold out, you sold your soul!"
or even this peach from their Instagram account:
"Just stop posting on social mediaDB. Give that up like you just gave up your souls."
Admittedly those are fairly tame comments, unlike some that I see on Yeungling's Facebook account, for example calling their Traditional Lager 'scab beer', but you get the drift.

The vitriol and abuse that some people feel necessary to hurl at any brewery that has the temerity to do something that they don't agree with just staggers me, especially when it gets ladled up with a healthy dose of nationalist shit about only buying beers made by breweries from their own country. At the same time platitudes abound about beer people being 'good' people, or that 'good people drink good beer', which makes me wonder about people's definition of 'good' in light of torrents of abuse that rain down on occasion.

Now, I understand that people develop deep feelings for the breweries behind the beer they drink, but I think we sometimes stray so far into fandom that it borders on extremist fanaticism. There are even times when the abuse sounds like the kind of stuff you could imagine a craft beer equivalent of Westboro Baptist Church spouting at a funeral, and with just as much vehemence.

To put it simply, this needs to stop, now.

People need to get their heads out of the sand/their arseholes and realise that while beer is great, and we all have breweries we love, craft beer is a business, subject to all the same rules of the capitalist game as any other industry. People like Steve and Jason who have worked tirelessly to build a brewery like Devils Backbone to a point where it is an attractive proposition for bigger breweries should not be victims of such mindless opprobrium, especially not from self-declared 'good' people (as if one's choice of drink is an indicator of one's moral/ethical standing - which fucktard came up with that idea?).

Perhaps the most important thing we all need to do is remember that the drink we all love is just beer. No more, no less. It's not a panacea for the world's ills, it's just beer. It's not a cure for cancer, it's just beer. It's not the solution to climate change, it's just beer.

Yes we love it, but let's not turn it into something to be idolised. Drink it, enjoy, talk about, but respect people that disagree with you, that way we can all get along.

Here endeth the half baked rambling lesson.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Devils Backbone Sale - Initial Thoughts

So the Anheuser-Busch shopping spree continues...only this time it is much closer to home. News came through this morning that they have purchased Devils Backbone, a brewery very dear to my heart.

One of the first breweries Mrs V and went to when we relocated from Prague to Central Virginia was Devils Backbone, which had been open for a mere 8 months at that point. The beer was solid, the service maybe less so, but they were finding their feet and a few months later we went again for their 1 year anniversary, which also happened to be my birthday. The beer was great, and I knew then that I would drink a lot of Devils Backbone.

If you've followed Fuggled for a while now you will know that I have brewed on the brewpub kit a few times, firstly as an eager observer/mash digger outer for the Trukker Ur-Pils, then creating the recipe for Morana, a Czech dark lager that makes it's fourth appearance in a few weeks, and also recreating a London Dark Lager with Ron Pattinson.

I guess then people will be expecting a renting in twain of my robes, and the liberal application of ashes to my head in mourning. People will be disappointed. I have met Steve and Heidi a few times around the brewery, I would count Jason as a friend, and have had drinks from time to time with Hayes and a few other folks from Devils Backbone, and to be perfectly honest I am happy for them. The hard work they have put into the brewery is staggering, and to think they have gone from being a brewpub in the mountains of rural Virginia to the largest craft brewery in the Commonwealth in the space of just 7.5 years.

Congratulations Devils Backbone, and as long as the beer remains good, then I will remain a happy Devils Backbone drinker.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

About That Ad

The pitch seems to have hit a much more fevered tone in the last few days than usual. I guess it has something to do with this Budweiser Super Bowl commercial...

Admittedly I am something of a johnny come lately to this particular party because I didn't see the commercial until the furore was in full swing on Twitter. I am not a fan of American Football, a phrase which could easily be the understatement of the year, so I wasn't watching the game and thus couldn't get my knickers in a twist at the appropriate moment. Ah well.

Yesterday though I took a few minutes to sit down and watch the commercial, and I actually quite like it. It's well made, tells a clear story, and takes a few well aimed jabs at the perceived snottiness of many a craft beer aficionado, well played Anheuser-Busch, well played. Be honest, we all recognised people we know in their depiction of people fussing over their peach pumpkin ale or whatever the hell abomination they referred to. When I watched the ad for the first time I was reminded of a scene in The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer where Max and Alan kidnap a craft acolyte from a bar...

Now, I am not going to go down the path of hand wringing about how that nasty big corporation is being mean to the little breweries that it is intent on buying up, because such a narrative (admittedly the dominant narrative it seems) misses the entire point of the commercial. It is also a flawed narrative because it conflates the Budweiser brand with the AB-InBev company. Let's get one thing straight, Budweiser is just one brand owned by AB-InBev, and this commercial was for the brand not the company behind it. Remember, Elysian, 10 Barrel, and Blue Point were purchased by AB-InBev not Budweiser, to think that Budweiser owns these craft breweries is as daft as saying that the breweries are owned by AB-InBev's other major brands, Stella Artois, Beck's, or even Leffe.

But the core message of the commercial is actually one that I can get on board with, because I have been saying something similar for quite some time. Beer is for drinking, with your mates, preferably down the pub. Sure, I am not going to go an order a pint of Budweiser because it is not my cup of tea, but I find myself increasingly drinking almost exclusively from breweries that I know make great drinking beers rather than an endless morass of shit with random extraneous ingredients -  I can think of plenty of breweries that should be focusing on quality and process management rather than what strange herbs from their aunt's garden they can dump into their next batch.

When it boils down to it though, I get the feeling that the hysteria is largely about one thing, and one thing only, the commercial is very close to home, and for many craft beer fans having the tables turned on them is uncomfortable. As with fundamentalists of every stripe, if you can't laugh at yourself then you might be taking things too seriously. It's just beer remember.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Revolution Will Be Purchased

According to news coming out of the Pacific Northwest, Bend's 10 Barrel Brewing has been purchased by Anheuser-Busch.

Now, don't worry, this won't be some hand wringing diatribe on a brewery selling out to the evil corporations. Neither yet is it a lament about another well respected, award winning, brewery going from craft to crafty in the ledgers of the Brewers Association. You see, it really isn't all that important, unless of course you buy into the faux-revolutionary bollocks which is much of craft beer marketing. What we have here is a very successful business buying another successful business because they think it will benefit their business.

Thus has it ever been, and thus will it ever be.

A couple of things though that stood out to me in the press release included the following statement from the CEO, Craft, at Anheuser-Busch, who said:
"10 Barrel, its brewers, and their high-quality beers are an exciting addition to our high-end portfolio"
In that one sentence you have the perception of much of the 'craft beer world', upmarket, high-end, aspirational.

The other was 10 Barrel being excited to benefit from the 'operational and distribution expertise of Anheuser-Busch'. Essentially saying that they are looking forward benefitting from AB's expertise in quality control processes and getting consistently quality beer into the hands of drinkers, which can only be good for drinkers in the long run.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Brewing Business

Let me tell you a story of a brewery.

This brewery was in the forefront of zymurgical innovation, brewed a version of a popular pale beer style that was regarded as the classic. As time passed, in order to keep up with demand for their beer, the company opened a second brewing facility. Eventually international demand for the brewery's beer lead them to contract with other breweries to produce their beer under licence. The company was a great success, they owned an iconic brand, were synonymous with the American brewing industry and eventually they were bought out by InBev.

I am sure that you have realised that the brewery in question is Anheuser-Busch and the beer was Budweiser. There are though parallels, I think, between the history of Anheuser-Busch and current events with the big craft breweries, as they build their second breweries across the US, and in the case of Samuel Adams have their iconic beer brewed in the UK under licence to Shepherd Neame.

I sometimes wonder to myself if the early, predominantly German immigrant owned, American breweries engendered the same levels of loyalty as we see among craft beer lovers today? Clearly they were doing something right as they brought the new European pale beer style to the New World and created something unique. You could argue that the pale lagers being brewed by the likes of Anheuser-Busch were the American IPAs of their day.

At this moment in the renewal of American brewing, it is perhaps more sensible, and less given to zealous hyperbole, to remember that each brewery is ultimately a business. No-one in their right mind starts a brewery if they don't believe that they can make a living from making beer.

To put it bluntly, passion doesn't pay the bills.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg

Once upon a time there was a farmer who kept geese. One of the farmer's geese was very special because it laid golden eggs. Every morning, the farmer would collect the eggs from his gaggle of geese and put the golden egg aside to be taken to the bank. Having convinced themselves that the goose itself must have a large nugget of gold inside it, the farmer and his wife killed the goose, only to find that it was a goose like every other.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...