Tag Archives: Schafly

Super Bowl Beer Temptation

If you watched the Super Bowl and watched the ads—who am I kidding, watching the ads is like a national event in the U.S.—you probably noticed a plethora of ads for two beers:  Budweiser Black Crown and Redd’s Apple Ale.  I am weak before the marketing powers of macro-brewers and feel the pull of the six-pack.  Okay, that creepy fish promoting Beck’s Sapphire made me want to run away because I felt like its eyes were staring straight into my soul.

Following the release of Bud Light Platinum, a high test version of its flagship Bud Light product, A-B InBev decided to go all “premium” with Budweiser Black Crown.  Ostensibly a lager, Black Crown is the brewer’s attempt to inject some buzz into its traditional Budweiser brand that has been lacking since no one drinks the stuff in the “red can” anymore and Budweiser Select is little more than tailgate swill.


Budweiser Black Crown

It tastes like someone increased the percentage of “real beer” flavor at the mega-beer mixing machine in St. Louis or whatever monolithic facility this stuff was brewed within.  It’s a Budweiser product through and through, e.g. totally non-offensive and lacking any sort of personality other than pure consistency can after can or bottle after bottle.

The problem I see with any premium label from Budweiser or another macro-brewer is the value proposition.  It cost ~$8 for a six-pack of Budweiser Black Crown 12 ounce bottles.  Within less than a dollar price difference I had probably twenty five excellent craft beer choices including several from the St. Louis brewer of note, Schafly.  Why bother with a Budweiser Black Crown?

By the way, what is up with the ads for beer and liquor taking place at these parties that are one disrobing away from turning into a sequel of Eyes Wide Shut?  Every time I cracked open one of these bottles I felt like I needed to don a black, single button suit and make sure my stubble was the appropriate length before attending the party at a baroque ballroom.

Redd’s Apple Ale is a totally different beast.  Produced by Redd’s Brewing Company…who am I kidding?  This is a brand under the house of SABMiller that is trying to pose as something other than a beer made by a macro-brewing giant.  It draws on the now grand tradition of Blue Moon or Icehouse or any other brand that hides its affiliation with the big corporate parent.  I do not want to argue about the definition of craft beer, but something made by SABMiller is not craft.

Described as an ale with a bit of apple, Redd’s Apple Ale is trying to tread a fine line between real beer and whatever drinks like Mike’s Hard Lemonade are:

Redds Apple Ale

Too bad the best description I can come up with to describe this drink is alcoholic apple juice.  Seriously, if you were trying to pass off booze to your children this would be the vehicle because there is little or no beer taste at all.  How they can even begin to pass this off as beer is beyond me.

See the total lack of head in the picture above?  Yep, that was how it was poured straight from the bottle into the glass.  It took me maybe five seconds to grab my camera and snap the picture.  Huh?  And talk about sugar.  My teeth hurt just thinking about how sweet each sip was.  Ugh!

Here’s the problem for A-B InBev, SABMiller, and MolsonCoors…sales of their traditional volume products is flat to declining.  Investors look at the growth in craft beer with lustful eyes wondering why the big boys can’t do the same thing.  So, some marketing honcho reached into the MBA bag of tricks and pulls out brand extension, e.g. Budweiser Black Crown, or house of brands, e.g. Redd’s Apple Ale.  Too bad they are not addressing the core problem that is they are not innovating enough to capture people’s imagination.

If it’s Friday, it must be beer

It’s Friday night and for some people that means fighting, but for me it means beer!

Honey Kolsch is Bottled

This beer blew the fermentation lock off the carboy and took a week longer than I anticipated to stop active fermentation.  The beer smelled somewhat harsh or astringent out of the carboy, which is a departure from the more mellow styles that preceded it.  I really do not know what to expect out of what was bottled tonight.

Growlers Lead the Charge

After a couple of months I was finally able to get the 38mm polyseal caps for my 64 ounce growlers.  Now they are filled with beer and sitting in a darkened closet conditioning.


The newest style I am brewing is a rye ale or roggenbier.  I purchased the American Rye Ale kit from Northern Brewer and got to brewing on Friday night.

As I was finishing up the boil I realized that I did not make any ice the previous week to cool the wort down quickly.  An advantage of living in Iowa is that in mid-November is the outside temperature dips below freezing at night.  Call it the low carbon wort chiller:

It cooled down quickly and I did not feel like I was wasting water or ice.  I think I am on to something here.  Just wait until I can jam this pot into a snowbank.

Drinking Local

I spent this past weekend in St. Louis where I had the privilege to ponder an interesting dilemma: what is the right beer choice?

Let me explain.  One friend is a die hard New Belgium Brewery fan who goes to great lengths to drink Fat Tire Amber Ale or Sunshine Wheat regardless of his location.  It helps that he primarily lives and visits locations west of the Mississippi River where the beer is readily available save for Oklahoma and Utah, bastions of the 3.2% ABV mafia.  Another friend, a St. Louis resident, is a local aficionado.  In St. Louis this used to mean Budweiser and…  There was no and for years because Budweiser ruled that town.  Following the sale to InBev there has been a backlash against Budwesier as the beer of locals.  Now the title probably falls to Schafly.  This is truly a wild development given the stranglehold the Clydesdales had on that town.

My preference is increasingly favoring the local crowd.  There is something about drinking the beers endemic to the area in which you are visiting.  It’s like terroir without the pretension that comes from European rules.

In eastern Iowa, when my homebrew runs out and I am waiting for another batch, I turn to beers from Millstream Brewery in Amana.  The brewery is only about 20 miles from my house and the John’s Grocery Generations White Ale is a great summer beer:

Heck, it is a good anytime beer.  I picked up a six pack this week while I wait for the honey kolsch to come out of the carboy.  The beer was brewed for the 50th anniversary of Iowa City institution and beer emporium John’s Grocery in 2002.  It has been in production ever since.  Anyone familiar with the area knows John’s Grocery.  It’s that famous and that good.  Plus, they also make great root beer.

So, when you are in Fort Collins follow your folly and drink from New Belgium.  In St. Louis drink from Schafly or new guy Four Hands.  In Hawaii grab a Primo or something from the most excellent people at Maui Brewing. In Minneapolis the choices seem endless, but I am partial to Surly and newcomer Lucid.  And in eastern Iowa seek out Millstream.  There are too many great local breweries in the U.S.–over 1,700 and growing–to spend your days wedded to one brand nationally.

Besides, isn’t drinking tall boys of PBR just a little passe.