Budweiser Select 55: Light on Calories, Taste and Alcohol

Posted on March 25th, 2010

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.

Super Bowl Beer Ad Roundup

Posted on February 9th, 2010

On Sunday the New Orleans Saints came back from behind to beat the Indianapolis Colts and win their very first NFL Championship. It was a great game, but it wasn’t the only reason to watch the Super Bowl. Every year many tune in just to watch the creative and big-budget commercials that are showcased between plays. Beer commercials are always a staple of this yearly tradition, and Super Bowl XLIV was no exception. Here’s a quick look at what beer ads there were this year.

The most dominate beer ads this time  were Bud Light’s “Here We Go” ads. This series features various situations in which people unexpectedly discover large amounts of Bud Light. A spontaneous party erupts regardless of everyone’s current circumstances fun is had by all. Take a look at this one set on a deserted island following a plane crash.

The others follow the same basic template with different settings – an observatory, a book club, etc. The most notable thing about all of these ads is how little they actually focus on the beer or its quality. This was a theme which was also evident in this year’s Budweiser Clydesdale ad, which had almost nothing to do with beer.

Perhaps the decision to focus more on the social aspects of Budweiser beers rather than its taste or quality is indication that Americans are becoming savvier about beer. With craft beer steadily growing in popularity, more and more people are trying quality beer and realizing how much light lagers like Budweiser lack. Anheuser-Busch can no longer get away with bragging about their taste, because people know theirs better things out there.

The other beer ads on Sunday were for two super light beers.

Michelob Ultra:

and Budweiser Select 55:

These are beers which are brewed to be as light as possible, Michelob Ultra was the first, weighing in at 95 calories per serving. The success of Ultra led to Michelob coming out with MGD 64, which has just 64 calories per serving. Budweiser Select is the latest in this category, with, as you might guess, 55 calories per serving.

We’ve looked at these beers in articles before. As we said previously, beer isn’t a sports drink. It isn’t something that should be enjoyed for the dietary benefits, it should be enjoyed for the taste. The caloric difference between these beers are slight to say the least. Are the six calories you save by drinking Select 55 really going to matter much? We certainly don’t think so. As we pointed out before, the caloric difference between Ultra and regular ‘non sport’ beers isn’t that much either. We’re all for staying healthy and watching what you eat and drink, but we feel the amount of calories you save by drinking these super light beers hardly make up for the significant loss in taste.

What did you think of these year’s ads? Let us know in the comments.

Budweiser: The Great Czech Lager?

Posted on July 17th, 2009

Budweiser The Great American Lager?

Budweiser is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and well known American beers around the world. Thanks to its countless commercials proclaiming it the “King of Beers” and “The Great American Lager” coupled with its near universal availability in the US, it’s hard to think of American beer without thinking of Budweiser. Unfortunately, Budweiser isn’t American at all, it’s Czech. That’s right, the beer that is most synonymous with America was actually stolen from a brewery in what today is the Czech Republic.

Pilsner, the style of beer Budweiser attempts to replicate, is originally a Czech style of beer. Originating in the Czech town of Pilsen, Pilsner is a German word which means “from Pilsen.” The first clue that the Great American Lager actually isn’t all that great or American comes from its name. ‘Budweiser’ is also a German word, meaning “from Budweis,” which is a town in the Czech Republic. When German-American immigrant Adolphus Busch started selling Budweiser in 1876, he decided to name it after the town he got the recipe from, Budweis. This wasn’t something the people of Budweis were too pleased about of course, considering they’d been brewing their own Budweiser beer since the 14th century.

As a result Anheuser-Busch and Budejovicky Budvar, the brewery in Budweis which sells the original Budweiser, have been locked in copyright disputes ever since. Currently they’ve reached an awkward truce which allows A-B to sell its beer in the US under the name ‘Budweiser’ while in most of Europe it must be sold as simply ‘Bud’ and in Germany it’s sold under the awkward name ‘Anheuser-Busch B.’ Budejovicky Budvar for it’s part is allowed to sell their beer under Budweiser in Europe while having to go by ‘Budweiser Budvar’ here in the States.

Budweiser "Bud" and Bud Budvar

To give A-B some credit, they didn’t simply ‘borrow’ the recipe and name from Budejovicky Budvar, they also dumbed down the recipe, replacing much of the barley and grains used in the Czech version with flavorless adjuncts like rice and corn. Nothing says American like stealing from other countries and making bland, watery beer. So I guess in a lot of ways Budweiser is the Great American Lager. God Bless America!