These items caught Ludwig’s attention:
In Indiana, the state’s convenience store association has gone to court to overturn a state law that prohibits them from selling cold beer. Liquor stores are the only sellers allowed to do so.
Beer is back on the agenda North Carolina. A bill that would allow grocery stores, restaurants, and other retailers to sell and refill growlers passed the House by a wide margin.
Both houses of the Illinois General Assembly have passed a bill that would require Anheuser-Busch to divest itself of a minority interest in a Chicago-based distributor.
Anheuser-Busch has another problem to contend with: class-action lawsuits accusing the brewer of watering down its beers. The lawsuits, which demand millions of dollars in damages, allege that A-B added water to the beer before bottling it, thus reducing its alcohol content to less than what is advertised on the label.
Josh Boxer, the lead attorney in these lawsuits, says that the allegations are based on information from former employees at A-B’s 13 U.S. breweries, some of whom worked in high-level plant positions.
A-B has called the claims “groundless,” and said its beers fully comply with labeling laws.
By now, you’ve likely seen Budweiser Black Crown on the shelves at your local supermarket. You probably know the Black Crown story as well: it was the taste-test winner of the beers created for Budweiser Project 12. And you’re no doubt aware that Anheuser-Busch, Inc., has forked out millions for air time during the Super Bowl to promote this new brand.
Donald Russell, who blogs as Joe Sixpack, has an interesting explanation for A-B’s decision to promote the new brand during tomorrow’s big game. He quotes from an email he received from Grant Pace, the ad man who created the famous Bud Bowl series of Super Bowl commercials. Pace explains that the ads are intended to “drive conversation”:
Sarah Palin drove conversation, love her or hate her. When she stopped being interesting to both sides, she faded. Same with beer. They’re fine if you love the new products or hate them, but don’t be quiet about them. Don’t say that Budweiser isn’t doing stuff, isn’t innovating, isn’t sitting still.
Perhaps, But it remains to be seen whether craft beer drinkers actually like Black Crown, and like it enough to switch brands.
Tom Dibblee, of the LA Review of Books, has a confession to make. He enjoys Bud Light Lime because “it allows me to shed the burden of sophistication, and it restores beer to what it once was, when I was young–a tart nectar that makes me happy.”
Dibblee makes his admission as part of his amusing review of Bitter Brew, William Knoedelseder’s account of the rise and fall of Anheuser-Busch. Knoedelseder mentions BLL just once in his book, but the beer is central to Dibble’s review.
August Busch IV was a disaster as CEO, and was shown the door by InBev after it acquired A-B. By February 2010, he was “holed up in his mansion, grievously addicted to drugs, gripped by paranoia, beset by hallucinations, and armed with hundreds of high-powered weapons, including several .50-caliber machine guns.” But before falling into the abyss, August IV suggested that the company branch out into novelty beverages. All but one flopped: Bud Light Lime, which, in 2008, led to Anheuser-Busch’s best summer sales in years.
Fifty years ago today, Trinidad and Tobago gained its independence from Great Britain. This Caribbean island republic is the birthplace of calypso, steelpan, and soca music, chutney, and the limbo. A cold beer would go well with any or all of these.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in Hyde Park, New York, where the Culinary Institute of America’s American Bounty Restaurant celebrates its 30th anniversary with a special black ale brewed by Tommy Keegan of Keegan Ales.
Craft beer in Kyrgyzstan? Writer Chris Rickleton, who lives in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, reports that the local beers aren’t bad at all, and that a couple of micros are open for business.
Three Portland, Oregon, women are planning to write a book titled Hop in the Saddle, a bicyclist’s guide to beer touring their city.
Now that Goose Island is part of the Anheuser-Busch family of beers, they will be available in all 50 states. The high-end Goose Island beers will continue to be made in Chicago.
The Yeastie Boys, a brewery in New Zealand, is a pioneer in open-source brewing. Bottles of its Digital IPA contain metallic blue QR codes which enable customers to brew their own versions of the ale.
Joshua Justice of the Houston Press lists the ten ugliest labels on beers sold in Texas. Some of the labels Justice can’t stand appear on bottles of very good beer.
Finally, iPhone users can play a new game that features bottlecaps from Michigan breweries. When you touch a bottlecap, the game gives you information about that brewery, including its location and a social media contact.
In the past ten years, Anheuser-Busch has spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars on Super Bowl ads. The ads are an artistic success, so much so that people put off their trip to the bathroom to watch football-playing Clydesdales and singing frogs. But have they helped sell the product? According to a study by 24/7 Wall St., the answer is no. It ranks A-B number one in money wasted, pointing out that in the past decade, its market share has fallen by 3.7 percent and its flagship brand, Budweiser, has fallen to number-three behind Coors Light.
Brewing’s Busch family was, in every respect, larger than life. The men of the clan lived like characters out of the 1980s TV drama “Dallas” or, perhaps, a Shakespearean tragedy. The family saga once again made the news when August Busch IV’s girlfriend, Adrienne Martin, was found dead a drug overdose.
Bloomberg Business Week reporter Susan Berfield calls Martin’s death “the latest twist in a saga that has transfixed St. Louis.” The Busches and their beer company, she points out, survived Prohibition, strikes, and price wars. However, at a crucial time, the company failed to adapt to a changing market, leaving it open to a foreign takeover.
The takeover happened on August IV’s watch, but was it his fault? In her article, Berstein suggests that while August IV didn’t help himself by partying hard, ultimately he was set up to fail. His relationship with his father, the legendary August Busch III, was, to say the least, a burden. While he had a flair for marketing beer, and seeing that Americans’ tastes were changing, he wasn’t CEO material. And even if he was, events in the industry were spinning out of control. It’s a thought-provoking article, regardless of how you feel about A-B or the Busches.
American Homebrewers Association membership in 2006: 11,724.
AHA membership today: about 26,000.
Annual production of Yuengling beer: 2.2 million barrels.
Number of states where it is sold: 13.
Yuengling’s share of the U.S. beer market: 1 percent.
Oregon’s total beer production in 2010: 1.09 million barrels.
Brewing industry’s contribution to the Oregon’s economy: $2.44 billion a year.
California’s brewery count: 245 (highest in the nation).
Vermont’s brewery count: 21.
Breweries to population ratio in Vermont: 1:29,797 (best ratio in the nation).
Number of area codes Anheuser-Busch is trademarking for its new craft beer series: 15.
Number of state liquor stores in Pennsylvania: 632.
Craft breweries in New York State: 73.
Hop acreage in New York State: about 50.
Hop acreage in the Pacific Northwest: 31,000.