16 September 2008

American Ale

Now is the time when Budweiser American Ale is launched (caution: slow-loading site). I believe it's already available on tap is some places, plus some promotional bottles are out there. Anyone tried it yet? There are a handful of reviews at the rating sites.

This is different from previous attempts by the big boys to go after craft beer drinkers. It isn't a sub-brand -- it says Budweiser right on the admitteldy sharp-looking bottle -- and has a huge ad buy behind it. In fact, I don't think it's aimed at craft beer drinkers. I suspect A-B would like some respect from beer geeks, but all the purchases in the world from us isn't going to cut it. They need to tap a bigger market.

So despite bragging about using Cascade hops (aimed at those of us who know what those are), the brewers have to use a light touch. Someone who's never had much other than BMC or Molson or Heineken has to drink it once and not wince from citrus bitterness. A-B can't wait for people to build up a tolerance to hops, as many of use have done. And A-B can't treat it as a gateway beer. Gateway to what? Someone else's product?

Added: from an About.com article called "Beer by Committee":

So they started with a grain bill of pale and caramel malt. Then they
developed a hop bill with four different varieties: Palisades for bittering, Willamette, Saaz and Cascade for aroma and finishing. Then they brewed four identical beers but used different yeast in each one. These four beers were brought into the tasting room where the new products panel tasted them and decided which strain to use. Once the choice of yeast was settled they then brewed six versions of the beer and dry-hopped with six different hops. They decided on Cascade in the same way as they did the yeast strain. After that it was a matter of fine tuning the beer and establishing things like alcohol content. Beck said that he relied on the panel during this stage. He added that they were still making adjustments and was eager to get our input.

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