Monday, February 25, 2013

Beer of the Month: Budweiser Black Crown

Budweiser Black Crown with one of my favorite
books on world altering events.
The fall of the Roman Empire.  The sinking of the Titanic.  Tearing down the Berlin Wall.  To these historic events which shattered the earth to its core, we now add the release of a Budweiser Black Crown.
I'm not exaggerating.  (OK, maybe just a bit.) For nearly two centuries, Budweiser served as the icon of light lagers, held up as the highest example of the clear, refreshing, easy-drinking standard for beer. This shining beacon has lead the way for all those who shun the unpronounceable foreign imports, funny looking craft brews and simply want a cold one. Brewed by some of the worlds finest brewers, Budweiser has survived Prohibition, two world wars, and countless battles for decades with similarly deep pocketed brewing rivals both here and abroad who dared challenge its supremacy.

And now a lightly roasted malt tarnish has soiled this American classic as a result of a sales tactic that seems as cunningly conceived as it is desperate.

Is Black Crown Budweiser's "Nixon to China" Moment?
As many of you know, so called "craft" beer sales are growing, beer sales from big industrial giants are declining.  While the typical craft brewer produces less beer each years that one of Budweiser's twelve US breweries produces in a couple days, all these little Davids are nipping away at the Budweiser Goliath with consumers slowly turning away from light lagers to dark yellow, orange, brown, and black beers with complex malts and hops in them. It's apparently gotten to the point where even Budweiser could no longer pretend it wasn't happening and had to do something to recapture lost market share.

They held a competition called Project 12 with their twelve brewmasters who each concocted their own little twist on the tried and true Budweiser formula. The winner was Los Angeles brewmaster Bryan Sullivan with his lightly roasted take on Bud, which according to the marketing folks, was a hit in taste tests all over the country. So Budweiser launched Black Crown with great fanfare and of course, ran commercials heralding its arrival during the Super Bowl.

What would Karl Marx think about Budweiser's
capitalistic ambitions with toasted malt to
recapture the beer drinking proletariat?
Having picked up a six pack and tried it, I have to say the light caramel malts meld with the traditional green apple flavor to produce an interesting light caramel apple flavor.  It's interesting, but probably not something I'm going back to. If forced to choose between traditional Budweiser and Black Crown, I'd reach for a Black Crown.

There lies the dark ominous cloud Black Crown may hold in store for Budweiser.  Budweiser may be very well providing a gateway beer for their own customers to discover the greater possibilities other breweries already provide. For so long, Budweiser has staunchly held up their light lager as the highest standard of American beer that the release of Black Crown isn't just a brand line extension. It's like Rush Limbaugh conceding President Obama has a good idea or two.

So as Budweiser reaches out to bring wayward beer drinkers back into its grip with Black Crown, it may be unwittingly sowing the seeds of its own destruction, relegating itself to the dustbin of history. Only time will tell.

1 comment:

  1. Bud didn't actually become dominant in the US market until the 1970's. Down with the king, off with his head.