It’s been a while since I can recall an extension of the Budweiser name, but just as A-B is positioning flagship brand Budweiser as The Great American Lager, their October-release Budweiser American Ale also waves the flag.
You can read into this whatever you please, but with well over 125 years of brewing heritage and battling for shelf space with foreign intertwined Molson-Coors and SABMiller, they can justifiably throw a little jingoism into the copper and get away with it.
When I wrote Beer & Food: An American History, I asked for the food recipe participation of breweries that were self-searching for their own bit of U.S. brewing industry heritage, brewing beers that were pre-Prohibition throwbacks, or in many cases, beers that were brewed with a nod to even earlier made ales. The results were the usages of a lot of beers in food recipes that included the words “colonial,” “molasses” or “corn” in their titled recipes or beer labels, not a bad thing (since that’s what I was looking for), but at the same time, the efforts were somewhat strained. The breweries were often 10 years old or less. It’s sort of hard to claim a historical brewing heritage when the brewery owner wasn’t even of drinking age a short decade ago. Love ’em or not, A-B has American brewing heritage.
Before anybody starts moaning about this new Budweiser American Ale without tasting it, I say hold judgement until October. I thought that the bottled version that I enjoyed was the result of just what A-B personnel said they were striving for. The amber-colored beer was malty, with a nose that indicated a light dry-hopping of what I’m certain were Cascade hops and the muscle of 5.3% abv behind it. Budweiser American Ale was not, however, a hop-bomb, one of those toe-curling ales that have you burping up hop oils the next morning. It was, I don’t know how to put it any other way, it was…balanced. It was also very, very good in the bottle; I think it would be hard to put down, drawn fresh from the tap. And with the extensive A-B distribution network in place, it’s going to be near impossible to find an old beer on the shelves that has lost its hop nose, a complaint that I still have with some respected craft beers.
As for its pricing, we were informed that it would be priced at “…the low-end of craft beer prices.” I have a suspicion that this ale will be tied to the price of The Boston Beer Company’s Sam Adams Boston Lager. Living in the Chicagoland area, that means a good thing for beer drinkers as A-B tries to slide into the realm of craft-styled beers. I love competition, and with Boston Beer still hurting from their recent chipped bottle recall, I expect their pricing to also remain at “…the low-end of craft beer prices.” Should make for a good shelf fight.
To be sure, the A-B marketing machine will also be out in force in the next few months, emphasizing the company’s brewing heritage, the word “American” and their use of American brewing materials in this new ale.
They can get away with it. As one of John Wayne’s characters once said in a flag-waving movie; “No brag, just fact.”