Let's be honest: Budweiser is a terrible beer. It's not light enough for drinking games, but lacks the flavor palate necessary for enjoyable sipping. As a point of comparison, Coors may fail at—you know—tasting decent, but at least its lightness makes it perfect for a round of beer pong on that night when you forget you're no longer 19. Even Blue Moon, inexpensive as it may be, is too heavy to chug consecutively without praying to the porcelain god.
The one thing Budweiser had going for it? Marketing. As much as I scoff at the notion of actually drinking a Bud, I gleefully look forward to those Clydesdale commercials. Thanksgiving Day Parade? HORSES! Super Bowl? WHERE ARE THE HORSES?! Maybe this is (more) evidence that I haven't fully matured past the age of 12, but ads with those majestic horses captivate me as no other do.
So it was with a heavy heart that I learned Budweiser will be eliminating Clydesdales from its marketing campaign. And in a seeming attempt to smite me, it claims the reason is to tailor its beer to Millennials.
On one level, this makes sense. Bud's sales have been directly impacted by the craft beer craze that's swept younger America in particular. Indeed, craft beers are enjoyed by 49% of Millennials and 40% of Gen Xers, compared to just 29% of Baby Boomers and 22% of those from the Swing Generation/World War II. In light of these sobering (get it?) stats, Anheuser-Busch InBev has decided it needs to target the Millennial generation that's slipping from its grasp.
But here's the thing: Anheuser-Busch InBev is completely missing the point on why Millennials are ditching Bud. It has nothing to do with advertising, and everything to do with 1/distributing a bad product, and 2/ acting like shady corporate overlords, something socially conscious Millennials aren't too keen on. This generation is also not thrilled with MillerCoors, the market's other beer behemoth.
And for good reason.
Drunk On Power
Many brewers assumed to be independent (even by me) are in fact operated by one of these two companies. Here's a rundown:
Anheuser-Busch InBev: Goose Island Beer Company, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Corona, Beck's
MillerCoors: Blue Moon, Coors, Miller, Hamm's, Peroni Nastro Azzuro, Henry Weinhard's
In fact, MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev are collectively responsible for nearly 3/4 of the nation's beer sales. Recently, these companies came under fire for using their muscle to cheat the market by raising prices during the recession . . . while at the same time buying out smaller breweries. Anheuser-Busch has also faced controversy for allegedly watering down its already-weak products to boost profits.
As is so often the case with mega-companies, these big brewers have essentially acted liked bullies. And it's this fact that Millennials are responding to. Bud can't alter its reputation simply by changing its marketing, because we're more intelligent than that—sorry not sorry.
Drink This Instead
Now that Budweiser can't even boast cool commercials, it's time to move on. Horrified by what you've read? Try some of these smaller breweries next time you take on the night:
North Coast Brewing Company
My Pick: Brother Thelonius (I literally change my order at the bar if I notice this in stock)
Lagunitas Brewing Company
My Pick: Brown Shugga (seasonal, but you can get it now)
21st Amendment Brewery
My Pick: Fireside Chat (also seasonal, and you can get it now)
My Pick: 90 Minute IPA (surprisingly great for people who hate IPA)
Big Sky Brewing Company
My Pick: Moose Drool (awesome, and has a cool name)