Budweiser took a strangely defensive stance during its big-money Super Bowl ad, firing shots at craft breweries and suggesting that their drinkers were too persnickety to enjoy a real "macro brew." Now those microbreweries are fighting back, stoking a new mutiny against the King of Beers in their long-running feud for American brews.
In its $9 million worth of airtime, Bud said its beer “is not brewed to be fussed over” while showing footage of a mustachioed hipster man sniffing his glass. The ad followed with a tagline: “The people who drink our beer are people who like drinking beer. To drink beer brewed the hard way. Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale."
The industry snapped back quickly at Bud's bullying. Abita Brewing in Louisiana unveiled a video saying, "We don't make one-size-fits-all beer," and adding, "Yeah, we made a pumpkin peach beer. It was good. Damn good."
Ninkasi Brewing, in Oregon, on Tuesday released a parody ad asking, "If you aren't drinking a beer for taste, what are you drinking it for?" and dubbing craft "the future of beer." Hopstories, which makes videos for the craft beer industry, issued a video rebuttal saying craft beer is "not brewed to be slammed."
Northern Brewer, a homebrew supplier, even launched a $39.99 "Peach of Resistance" kit for rebels wanting to brew pumpkin peach ale: "Sip away pretense ... (with) just a touch of nonconformity." In e-mail ads, it riffed off Bud's catchy slogan, saying, "This kit's for you!"
Bud parent company Anheuser-Busch, bought by Belgian-Brazilian beer conglomerate InBev in 2008, has plenty to be afraid of. The average American is drinking 40 percent less of the mass brew than in 2004, and company research found that nearly half of all drinkers between the ages of 21 and 27 haven't even tried the beer.
But Bud's Super Bowl ad was especially weird because it is firing barbs at the same kind of breweries that its parent company hopes to profit off. Anheuser-Busch has unveiled craft-esque ales, like Shock Top, and spent millions to dip its hands in successful craft breweries, like Red Hook, Widmer Brothers and Elysian, the latter of which even has a peach pumpkin beer to its name.
In the face of backlash, Bud has already walked back its attack, with marketing executive Brian Perkins saying, "This is an affirmation of what Budweiser is, not an attack on what it isn't." In a tweet, a representative for the beer said, "We're not anti-craft. Just pro-Bud."
But Bud's big rivals are already gloating over a new chance to strike. MillerCoors, the brew conglomerate behind Miller Lite and Coors Light, tweeted an image late Monday saying, "We believe all beers should be fussed over," and adding, "All brewing is a craft. And when it's done right, it should be respected."