Monday, May 12, 2008

Some Would Say That They Are Trying To Play For Both Teams

Budweiser American AleThe big news last week is that Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch, is soon to release "Budweiser American Ale."

The world may, in fact, be coming to an end.

Indeed, in a new-ish sorta brewery about 50 miles north of Hot-lanta, where the Michelob specialty beers are brewed, A-B, who owns Michelob, is also working on a dunkelweizen (a dark, wheat beer), an Irish red ale, a run-of-the-mill brown ale and, of all things, an American barley wine.

The apocalypse is nigh. The horsemen are getting ready to ride. And my anus is fully dilated with the pigs' head just starting to breach.

The news is making its way through the blog-o-tron.

Some interesting highlights from that coverage:
So who is a Bud Ale aimed at? Just who does A-B think will be the customer for this product? According to an article in last Friday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the target audience is “what A-B’s marketing department calls ‘experimenters’ — drinkers who bounce around among various beers such as Yuengling, Fat Tire, Hoegaarden and Budweiser.”[cite]
Bud American Ale has 5.1 percent alcohol by volume, according to label filings. A-B received approvals for 12-ounce bottles and three sizes of barrels (half, quarter and 1/6).[cite]
the main text says: “Budweiser American Ale defines a new style of ale – The American Ale – created by Anheuser-Busch brewmasters to deliver robust ale taste that’s full-bodied, but not too heavy nor too bitter.” The side text says "Carefully brewed with barley from America's heartland and Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest, this rich, amber-colored ale has robust flavor, and a distinctive, hoppy finish."[cite]
So, that really says it all. I could make some snarky comments about the impossibility of Bud succeeding in this. How ridiculous the segment of "experimental drinkers" is (really, do you know anyone that 'switches between Yeungling, Hoegaarden, Budweiser and Fat Tire'? I don't. The "experimenters" I know wouldn't touch Budweiser American Ale with your ten foot pole).

What I'd prefer to focus on is the name of this thing: Budweiser American Ale. I think it's deceptive and a terrible trademark. Think about this. How do you order one? "I'll have a Budweiser"? No. "I'll have an American Ale"? No, can't do that either. Lots of breweries make "American Ales" - American Pale Ales, American Amber Ales, American India Pale Ales, etc. And, even if it does become acceptable to order one as an "American Ale" it seems to me that it would dilute the meaning of those various labels listed above for others' uses. Moreover, it erodes the meaning of the phrase. So, what if "American Ale" becomes popular and Bud wants to expand the brand. Now we have the Bud "American Amber Ale"? The Bud "American IPA"? A-B has now absconded with the generic styles through erosion of a quasi-generic phrase.

1 comment:

  1. I think the key phrase is "not too heavy nor too bitter." Until they stop trying to pool the lowest common denominator, they won't need to worry about naming other American ale styles. If they're set on keeping Budweiser in the name, they should just name it "Bud Ale".


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