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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Small Batch Budweiser

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.
Why do we care? "The six sampler beers also will be sampled during “Budweiser Made in America” over Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia. The two-day music festival benefits United Way." I never knew we were a big Budweiser town. Wait, we're not. So is it about our music scene? Probably not. Is it about our being the birthplace of America? Maybe... Is it about getting a lot of attention for Budweiser in a town where Yuengling Lager is kicking their ass? Maybe... To be clear, I'm not really sure what that's about.

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.


Anonymous said...

A few years back before the Goose Island purchase, A-B did a winter seasonal that used bourbon, wood, and i think vanilla and was pretty good. Don't remember if it was a lager or ale. Don't think it was under the Michelob label, but it might have been. Pretty sure "Winter" was part of the name. This might be that recipe, for all i know. The point of the blather is that the bourbon version might be good!


Lew Bryson said...

Winter's Bourbon Cask, I think...but I wasn't really nuts about it. Personal preference!

Unknown said...

Yep, that's what it was.

I mean it wasn't terrible and i guess that's saying a lot for AB. I wonder if they've trademarked the Zip codes as well as the area codes. Im sure i'd try them, but my expectations wouldn't be that high. When will they learn quality >> quantity.

ennislaw said...

Lew, I was out in St Louis well before the InBev deal and AB used to occasionally brew special draft editions made available to select bars just in the city. I remember tasting a Bud draft dark larger, reminiscent of a dunkle with less malt.

Gary Gillman said...

The only one really of interest to me is the 5% beer said to use hops typically used by Anheuser-Busch in the 1800's - the hops but more also quantity, hopefully.

Yeast is a factor too of course, but I'd put that much behind using the malt and hop types - again in the quantities - used in the 1800's.

Who knows, it might taste something like Pilsner Urquell of today, which is great!


Richard said...

As you suggest, whether it's Labor Day or not, in most neighborhood bars in Philly the patrons will be asking for their Lager and it's not Bud.

The smartest thing Dick Yuengling could do right now is remind people in the local bars that Yuengling is the oldest American brewery in the US and right in PA and we are no stinkin'foreign brewery.

It should play very well in most of the local nieghborhood bars in Philly. But, I guess most of these bars will never see these beers.