The Vortex Bottle: Miller’s Latest Gimmick

Posted on May 11th, 2010

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.

Blue Moon: The Most Controversial Beer in America?

Posted on March 18th, 2010

Since its introduction in 1995 Blue Moon Belgian White has steadily grown in popularity, becoming one of the most popular Belgian style beers in America. Despite its popularity the beer also has many detractors who are weary of its corporate ownership and misleading labels.

Many don’t realize that although it says “Blue Moon Brewing Company” on the label, Blue Moon is actually made by Molson Coors, one of the biggest beer companies in the world. Because of this there are many in the craft beer community who are apprehensive about the beer’s popularity. They see it as an attempt by corporate America to infiltrate the craft beer scene under false pretenses and steal the profits from small, independently owned breweries. They fear that big beer corporations like Molson Coors might one day even be able to drive these small craft breweries out of business thanks to their size and strength from a business stand point, forever damaging the craft beer scene.

At the same time there are many who see the surprising popularity of Blue Moon as nothing but a good thing. Thanks to the massive reach and distribution channels of Molson Coors, Blue Moon is available throughout the US and has introduced countless casual beer drinkers to a Belgian style beer who might otherwise have never tried anything but light lagers like Coors and Budweiser. As a result many more are taking an interest in quality craft beer, helping the craft beer movement a great deal. These folks argue that a beer should be judged on taste, not who brews it, and to do otherwise is nothing but petty snobbery.

Personally I have mixed feelings on the beer. While I too am suspicious of a big corporation like Molson Coors, there is no question it has helped spark an interest in craft beer among many who previously couldn’t have cared less. When people new to craft beer ask me to recommend something for them the number one comment I hear is “I like Blue Moon, what else should I drink?” I usually tell these folks to give other Belgian whites a try. Hoegaarden is perhaps the second most popular in the US of this style. While the Hoegaarden Brewery has been around since the 15th century, it’s currently owned by Anheisher-Busch, which makes it similar to Blue Moon’s current ownership status. Hoegaarden’s corporate ties aren’t as well known as the Coors/Blue Moon connection so it tends to elicit less of a reaction among craft beer enthusiasts.

There are however some great craft wits out there, including the Ommegang Witte, Allagash White and Blanche De Chambly from Unibroue.

What do you think of Blue Moon? Has it helped or hurt the craft beer movement? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter.

“Frost brewed” beer isn’t anything special, that’s how beer is made

Posted on June 11th, 2009

Almost every macro-brewery has at one point or another laid claim to being the coldest brew at the store or on tap. We’ve all seen in countless TV commercials and Super Bowl spots where advertisers victoriously proclaim that their beer is always Ice Brewed or Cold Brewed or Frost Brewed or Glacier Brewed or some-other-cold-sounding-word brewed.

Coors Light with their recent “Our beer tastes like licking the Rockies” advertising shtick, is particularly guilty of this, just take a look at this ad featuring former NFL coach Bill Parcells. (Starts around the :30 mark)

Coors Light Cold Activated Bottle

Cold Activated Bottles. Provided by MillerCoors LLC

34 degrees sounds pretty cold, right? Pretty impressive maybe? Let’s do some fact checking with John Palmer, author of the book How to Brew, a guide to home brewing. 34 degrees happens to be the exact temperature Palmer recommends for making lager in your kitchen. So way to go MillerCoors, you’ve managed to follow directions from a recipe and do something anyone with an old ice box and a couple of bags of ice can accomplish. Brilliant!

Beer companies are usually selling the message of Ice Cold Beer because they know it appeals to the consumers sense of refreshment. They are also willing to assume that the average American does not know how beer is made, much less what a hop is (a topic for a much larger post down the road).

Beeriety is here to change some of these myths by providing more information about beer, beer culture and homebrewing to the everyday drinker.