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?
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.
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.
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.
As a followup to a recent post about hops I wanted to address the way this key ingredient in beer is sometimes portrayed by the major breweries in America. Recently Miller Lite has begun boasting about how they add hops to their beer not once, but three separate times during brewing.
They make it sound impressive, but the thing is you’re suppose to add hops three times during brewing, that’s just how you make beer. Just check John Palmer’s book about brewing, How to Brew; you’ll see that he instructs you to add hops three times during brewing. This is the reason that hops are divided into three different types: bittering hops, flavor hops and aroma (or finishing) hops, which Palmer also describes on that page.
The reason Miller and othe brewers can get away with such nonsense is that they count on the average beer drinker not actually knowing very much about beer. We here at Beeriety are aiming to change that, stay tuned to learn more about beer and beer culture.