“America’s craft brewers are artisans that rather than working in paint, photography or some of those muse, they’re working in beer.”
— Tim Myers of Strange Craft Beer Co.

Budweiser Is Not ‘Beer’

Okay, by the dictionary definition it is …

Beer: (noun \ˈbir\) an alcoholic beverage usually made from malted cereal grain (as barley), flavored with hops, and brewed by slow fermentation

Budweiser’s new marketing campaign lays claim to beer. Not just to their product line of Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Ice, Budweiser Select, Bud Light Lime, Bud Light Lime Ritas … no, to the actual noun beer.

In my younger years I drank Budweiser. I’ve had Miller Lite. I’ve had Coors. I’ve had Rolling Rock, Michelob, Busch and even Natty Light … though those four are all Bud brands so that doesn’t diversify my list.

It’s okay to admit that I’ve had all those, right?

Sure it is … because they’re all beer.

I look at my past beer choices the way I look at my past music choices. All of it is part of a journey. It was part of the discovery that has helped shape my tastes and given me an appreciation of what I like, or don’t like.

Toby Keith extolls the virtues of a “Red Solo Cup” in his song of the same name.

And like with any journey, there are some places I don’t want to return to. I’m not judging Toby Keith and his army of 26+ million YouTube viewers who have chorused their way through the video for “Red Solo Cup.”

I’m just here for the beer.

In the Brewers Association promos for American Craft Beer Week (May 11–17 so mark your calendar), Tim Myers of Strange Craft Beer Co. in Denver says that “America’s craft brewers are artisans that rather than working in paint, photography or some of those muse, they’re working in beer.”

Craft beer is exactly that, a craft.

Part science, part artistry — craft beer is an artisanal creation conceived to deliver a unique experience. Craft brewers are artists, scientists, entrepreneurs and community-focused activists.

All of this collectively fuels my affinity for craft beer.

It’s why I don’t look at #DrinkLocal as a social media tag. #DrinkLocal is a call to support the breweries that embody all of craft brewing’s qualities.

#DrinkLocal isn’t just about the brewery that is local to you right now, it’s all local breweries, brewers and beers. #DrinkLocal isn’t about geography. It’s about supporting the local brewing community.

Budweiser’s new marketing website — www.letsgraba.beer — is being billed as a resource for beer drinkers, not as marketing.

Anheuser-Busch InBev has launched a new digital marketing campaign “Let’s Grab a Beer”.

What’s noticeably missing from the campaign is any mention of AB or Budweiser or their growing portfolio of craft beer acquisitions. (The lead image on this page is from the campaign’s website — www.letsgraba.beer)

AdAge quotes AB’s Vice President for Beer Category + Community Julia Mize saying the new campaign and site are non-branded “so that we make sure we are connecting with the consumers and it’s not forced.”

“It’s not marketing,” Mize told AdAge. “Our intention here is to just have a resource that is relevant and fun and celebrates beer.”

The site includes sections like The Long Pour, which is billed as “Deep reads about the past, present and future of beer” and includes tips on “Chilling Hot Beer in Minutes” and “Opening a Beer With Almost Anything.”

www.letsgraba.beer includes tips like “Chilling Hot Beer in Minutes” and a quick demo on opening a beer with a spoon.

In case you need to know, here’s how to open a beer with almost anything:

You finally get your hands on a cold one, but there’s no bottle opener in sight. Classic. Luckily, you can open a beer bottle with a spoon, keys or pretty much anything else that can act as a lever in your grip. See below for how it’s done.

The site’s new so maybe it’ll build into a more thoughtful and thorough “resource” in the near future.

Budweiser is struggling to find an identity in a growing craft beer market that demands substance and authenticity — not to mention taste.

Creating a site of curated content built to look like Pinterest isn’t how you connect with beer drinkers. Beer is more than a collection of gifs and Someecards covertly branded to promote Bud’s brand on a site disguised as a “resource” that’s “not marketing.”

This is why Budweiser is not beer.

To the 3,400+ craft brewers in the U.S., beer means something more.

On The Stone Blog, the official blog of Stone Brewing Co., Greg Koch, co-founder of Stone Brewing, said “the world can largely be divided into two segments: the commodity side and the artisanal side. And you won’t see the commodity side collaborating the way we do.”

Julia Herz spoke of craft brewers’ commitment to community during her appearance on Bloomberg earlier this year.

For some brewers, “they just used their craft beer as a cause for other causes,” Julia Herz, Brewers Association’s craft beer program director told Bloomberg News in March, when explaining the value of local breweries in America.

Earlier this month New Belgium Brewing gave $1 million to Colorado State University to upgrade the school’s Fermentation Science and Technology program.

And earlier this year, more than 20 brewers participated in the Brewery Climate Declaration which Mother Jones described as a “declaration pledges that each company will take its own action to reduce emissions from its business, and will also support political action at the national level.”

And just this week, Dick Cantwell, co-founder of Elysian Brewing Company — which was purchased by Bud’s parent AB earlier this year — has decided he can no longer work with either AB or Elysian. Cantwell announced his resignation via email stating:

“The tenor of the deal, mainly from the point of view of my former partners and me, was such that I can’t possibly work with them into a future of any duration. My concerns were never even considered as a factor of whether we should or shouldn’t. From the start it was me against everyone else, with no regrets expressed. Enough about that.

The Washington Beer Blog broke the news of Cantwell’s departure and quotes his email:

“In the past few months AB has treated me with consideration and seriousness, and they’ve presented me some pretty exciting future possibilities, should I be able to see my way clear to working for them. But I can’t. I am a craft brewer, past, present and future, no matter what I end up doing. Naturally I’m not one to whine about the Definition, about being on the wrong side of it, etc. I helped craft the thing while I was on the BA Board, and while I have my own personal reservations about some aspects, I think it’s important to recognize some differences in realms of the market.”

This week beer more than 10,000 people are descending upon Portland, Oregon for the 2015 Craft Beer Conference. Brewers from across the country will show the real definition of beer.

They will show that:

Beer is nuanced.

Beer is culture.

Beer is conversation.

Beer is community.