Recently Miller Lite has been running a series of “Man Up” Beer commercials. All of them seem to suggest if you’re not drinking Miller Lite you’re not a “Real Man” and need to “man up” and order a Miller Lite. Clearly Miller is trying to imply that drinking other kinds of beers is for sissies. Order something else and you risk having your masculinity questioned by a pretty lady, and who wants that? Sure it’s funny to see these guys prance around with a lower back tattoo, but how many men who care how their beer tastes drink Miller Lite?
On my last installment I looked at the troubling identities of women in beer commercials, and I ended by posing the question: how come we only see this type thing from the big, macrobrewers? How come Sam Adams, Stone, and Rogue never try to make me feel bad about myself?
On the most recent episode of Current TV’s Infomania, the re-occurring “Modern Lady” segment set its sights on beer commercials and the women who populate them. I know what you’re thinking: surprise, surprise – sexist beer commercials. Go figure. But “Modern Lady” actually points to a interesting trend in the way that beer commercials are promoting their particular sexist worldview. Erin Gibson points out that while older beer commercials focused on women as busty, bikini-clad, beach bunnies, newer commercials are casting women as nagging, narrow-minded, negative Nancys. As she puts it, “women in beer commercials have gone from big-boobied eye-candy to THE ENEMY.”
We’ve discussed the unfortunate business decisions made by the big corporate brewing companies many times. I really thought I’d seen it all when it came to dumb and gimmicky ways to sell watery, tasteless beer, but I never saw this coming. MillerCoors has unveiled a new bottle for Miller Lite, dubbed the “Vortex Bottle,” which has specially designed grooves in the neck to “create a vortex as you’re pouring the beer.” This might be the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. I haven’t been able to get my hands on one of these beauties yet, but I have to assume it’s suppose to twist and spin the beer as it comes out, therefore somehow making it taste better . . . or something. It seems to me all it will do is make for a foamy pour and momentarily distract for the fact that what’s in the bottle is the same tasteless stuff it always has been.
It some ways it doesn’t surprise me that they are resorting to tactics like a “vortex bottle” or a Coors Light 12-pack box with a window in it. All of these are changes to the presentation and packaging of their beer, not the actual beer itself. With craft beer now the fastest rising segment of alcohol in America, the big brewers know that they can no longer get by claiming their taste is superior as more and more people are trying and enjoying quality craft beer that tastes good. Honestly, I’d be shocked if we don’t see more of these kind of scams. I’m going to take it as a good sign- the more ridiculous they get, the more desperate it means they are because craft beer continues to grow.
During the advertising blitz of this year’s Superbowl Anheuser-Busch pushed their latest creation, Budweiser Select 55. It’s a 55 calorie light lager that’s clearly a direct challenge to MGD 64, SABMiller’s similar light lager with 64 calories per 12 oz serving. While light beer is certainly nothing new, this tug of war between the two companies is a trend we’re not pleased about.
What a lot of people don’t realize about these super light beers is that they’re not just light in calories (and taste) they’re also light in alcohol. Both Select 55 and MGD 64 are just 2.8% alcohol by volume. That’s low, even by light lager standards. Michelob Ultra, the first ‘super light’ lager at 95 calories is 4.2%, the same as Bud Light. To get the same amount of alcohol from Select 55 or MGD 64 as Bud Light you’d pretty much have to drink twice as much, all but negating any of the caloric benefits. Without the promise of lower calories is there any reason to drink these beers? let’s face it, if you’re drinking them it’s certainly not for the taste, it’s for the alcohol and the perceived lack of calories. So really, why bother? If you’re looking for a low calorie alcoholic drink you’re really better off drinking a simple cocktail like vodka tonic or something.
If on the other hand you’re interested in drinking beer because you enjoy beer and you enjoy the way it tastes, you should try drinking a real beer that’s brewed for taste not calories. We’re all for healthy living and watching what you eat and drink but as we’ve said before, counting calories when it comes to beer just doesn’t make sense. Is anyone really concerned about the 9 calories you save by drinking Select 55 over MGD 64? Despite the suggestions of Anheser-Busch and SabMiller, quality beer doesn’t have that many more calories than light beer. Although Guinness is sometimes referred to as “liquid bread” due to its perceived heaviness, it only has 17 more calories per serving than Bud Light. Hopefully this race for the lightest beer possible will fade away like the silly trend it is, but in the meantime take a stand for real beer that’s made for taste, not calories and enjoy craft beer.
What do you think of this race for the lowest calorie beer? Let us know in the comments or on twitter.