That's right, I said "Small Batch Budweiser." I just got a press release from Anheuser-Busch about "Project 12," a "friendly competition" in which brewmasters at A-B's twelve American facilities (rumors continue to float that one will actually be closing sometime in the near future, possibly the Newark, NJ brewery) brewed beers "using the proprietary
yeast directly descended from the original Budweiser yeast culture used
by Adolphus Busch in 1876 and still used by Budweiser today."
“The key to this project was the common yeast – which is a very important and often under-appreciated contributor to the flavor and aroma of beer,” said Jane Killebrew-Galeski, director of brewing, quality and innovation for Anheuser-Busch. “We are proud of all these beers – the variety and the quality – but we want consumer feedback. So, we’re looking forward to what we hear when we sample this summer. Our objective is to allow our brewmasters to show some creativity, but the beers must fit the hallmarks the Budweiser brand is respected for, such as quality and consistency, and have a very crisp and clean taste.”Okay, it's Bud that isn't Bud. But they stayed fairly close to the farm. Each beer is a lager "using all-natural ingredients." Six were selected to be part of a national sampling program to pare it down to three that will be released in a sampler pack this fall.
The beers are named for the ZIP code of the breweries. Here's what they made, briefly.
- Budweiser Small Batch 91406 (Los Angeles): A deep-amber lager with 6 percent ABV that uses four different types of hops.
- 63118 (St. Louis): A deep-gold 5 percent ABV American lager that uses the same types of hops (Hallertau and Tettnang) commonly used at the St. Louis brewery during the 19th century.
- 43229 (Ohio): A light-amber lager using eight different types of hops with 6 percent ABV.
- 23185 (Virginia):
A light-amber all-malt bourbon cask lager aged on bourbon staves and
vanilla beans and with an ABV of 5.5 percent.
- 13027 (New York):
A bright-golden lager brewed with six imported and domestic hops and
with an ABV of 7 percent.
- 80524 (Colorado): A deep-gold, filtered wheat beer with 5.2 percent ABV using lemon peel, orange peel and coriander.
But I don't see this being anymore of a wavemaking, attention-getting breakthrough for Budweiser than any of the other projects A-B has tried. People just don't seem to want craft beer called Budweiser (which Shocktop is not), no matter what is wrapped around it, and I don't expect this to be any different. I'd be happy to try some of these, and I suspect they'll probably be good (except maybe that bourbon cask thing...I'm suspicious, but maybe they learned something from Goose Island). But I don't see this being anything significant.