For whatever reason, Blue Moon wheat beer–brewed by MillerCoors–is one of the hottest-selling “craft” brews by a major bottler, but Anheuser-Busch is angling to cut in on that growth with its new Bud Light Golden Wheat. Only two months after its debut, the new wheat beer has nearly matched Blue Moon’s monthly sales.
Higher-priced craft beers yield bigger profits. Since the big bottlers have been stagnant in “growth” they have been moving into the craft market where sales are rising.
Blue Moon was launched in 1995, and has established itself in the public’s eye as a craft beer (it doesn’t suck, but I don’t really care for it). Most people don’t realize they are drinking a MillerCoors beer… until I tell them. This includes that d-bag that I sat next too in a restaurant one night who extolled much false information about beer (and everything else) to his first date. No, I wasn’t cock-blocking, just setting the record straight… Blue Moon does not come from Belgium, it is a Belgian-style beer. The beer’s label, which calls home the “Blue Moon Brewing Company” is marketing-speak for “Molson Coors Brewing Company.”
So when I first read the story on Chicago Business–the impetus for my post– I had reservations about the fact they were calling BL Golden Wheat and Blue Moon craft beers. But a bit into the read, I found that even though Belgian owned Anheuser-Busch could call Bud Light Golden Wheat a Belgian-style craft, they prefer to call it a “more flavorful light beer.” Which is good, because that’s probably what it is.
In fact, it seems that Shock Top, which is brewed under the Michelob branding arm of Anheuser-Busch–AND marketed as a Belgian White–would be in more direct competition to Blue Moon. But I guess it hasn’t gotten the foothold they want–so BLING, make a new beer… with Drinkability®©™ of course.
Snapping your fingers and making a new beer to compete in a category is probably pretty easy for Big Beer. Look at the sub-light beer war going on. A-B started the whole thing with Michelob Ultra… now we have beers like MGD 64 and Select 55. We’re not a rumor-based website, but I heard that Coors is working on a competing beer called “Coors Zero” that tastes EXACTLY like Coors Light. The reason you haven’t seen it on shelves yet is because the laws of physics don’t allow them to add more than 12 oz of water to a 12 oz bottle. Zing.
But really… if you want to drink something that tastes like a craft beer, why don’t you actually drink a craft beer? There are HUNDREDS of small breweries–probably some right in your home town–that employ neighbors, create local pride, and oh, brew beer. Try one of their beers the next time you see Bud Light Golden Wheat on the shelves.
Ana R. is right BL Golden Wheat does not taste “exactly” like an actual wheat beer. I was extremely excited that one of the major beer companies was trying to bring out a mainstream and light wheat beer. Unfortunately the execution is a disaster. I couldn’t even finish a single pint due to the disgusting chemical taste. however, A-B can produce a GREAT wheat beer when it wants to: try Michelob Bavarian Wheat. The only catch is that it is a season beer sold only in mixed packs.
As a fan of wheat beers, but not a fan of the caloric intake of said wheat beers (such as Blue moon, Shock Top and the like) I am happy, no, thrilled that there is a lower-calorie option to a wheat beer. No, it doesn’t taste exactly like the beautiful “craft brew” it is emulating, but it is a LIGHT beer. Light beers never have cannot exactly replicate the taste of a full-bodied beer. I have a sneaking suspicion that what gives this beer a chance for longevity is the female population that enjoys the coriander and citrus wheat beer… Read more »
Great post. Yeah, it is disheartening when the big brewers dilute the meaning of craft beer, by promoting their beers as ‘craft’. They don’t brew in small batches, they don’t brew beer to have flavour and they aren’t of the mind-set that beer should be fresh, all-natural and pure.
Disappointing, but it is to the thanks of the craft brewers, the supporters and the online media for continuing to spread the word and de-bunk the myths..
I couldn’t agree more. I don’t have a problem with the Big 3 making craft-style beers–in fact, I think it’s a good thing–but as of right now, the results are pretty clear: mediocre beers with somewhat more flavor and a lot of marketing that confuses consumers.
Shameless plug: if you’re interested in getting your facts straight and finding true craft beers, you can find local craft and micro brewers at http://www.pintley.com.