Friday, May 9, 2008

We've Asked For It

For years there's been a debate about what would happen if "the big guys" decided to throw their hat into the craft market. We've beat them mercilessly for introducing half-assed attempts at the market, especially when it came to "craft done light" most recently. But now it seems that A-B "might" actually be doing craft, done right. I can't help but wonder what would happen if that's true.

First off, this is in regard to their newly approved label for Budweiser American Ale (thanks Brew Blog). At first blush I didn't think much about it, but then I looked at the application for a few more details. This beer will weigh in at 5.3% ABV, which certainly departs from the 'light' brands. Next, the label boasts the use of Cascade hops - they're clearly pushing the American nature of the brew. Finally, there's only one thing I am curious to find out, will this be an all-malt beer? There's no mention of rice or corn anywhere that I've seen, but that doesn't always mean a whole lot. I will say this about adjuncts, not sure it's been said here before, I love a proper cream ale - and these beers frequently use corn. Done correctly, I don't have an issue with adjuncts. Sadly, A-B has a history of overdoing the rice use for my taste.

Again, I just wonder what would happen in the upper-class of the beer enthusiast world if A-B came out with a beer that boasted a full flavor experience? First off, would it have an impact on the craft beer market? My gut says no. Next, will we - the beer enthusiasts - give it a fair shake? Again, my gut says no, but we'll see. For my curiosities, this whole thing has a great appeal. I would personally love to see A-B come out with a product that offers the flavors and body I look for in a beer. I don't imagine this will be my beer of choice, I simply don't see them adding the late hop additions I like for flavor and taste - but wouldn't it be great to be proven wrong on this?

Now, making a good beer won't make A-B a better company (not saying they're necessarily bad). I still have issue with their marketing, distribution and stuff - but hey, they're a publicly traded company and these things happen, the folks there aren't evil, just having goals that are more financially motivated than anything else (and, by the way, these goals are appropriate for companies with investors). It would certainly be a good thing for them, in my eyes, to do craft beer justice. So, count me among the interested.

You would be right, at this point, to remind me that they'll never be a "craft" brewery, as defined by BA. I know that, but I would ask if it is possible for a non-craft brewery to create a craft beer? If not, why not?