By William Brand
Monday, July 28th, 2008 at 7:00 pm in Uncategorized.
Budweiser American Ale: 5.2 percent, 25-28 IBUs, mild taste.
Budweiser, America’s Ale.?
Hey…here’s a sodden thought (to copy the late, lamented Herb Caen, the San Francisco Chronicle columnist)…could this ale coming from Anheuser-Busch in September truly become America’s ale, just like Bass Pale Ale or Courage Directors in the UK, a mild, amber companion to Budweiser, the American Lager?
Just got off the phone a short time ago with Eric Beck, the A-B staff brewmaster in charge of the project. Bare bones: The beer’s an amber ale, 5.2 percent ABV. IBUs (International Bitterness Units) 25 to 28. It’s made with two row pale barley and caramel malt. Bittering hops are Palisade, aroma hops spicy Saaz and Willamettes and piney, citrusy Cascades. It’s also dry hopped with Cascades. Every ingredient is American. No foreign ingredients.
It’s going to be released nationally in kegs on Sept. 15 and in bottles on Sept. 29. A national advertising campaign begins the last week of the Olympics, A-B says.
Why Budweiser, the American ale? “Marketing did a bunch of research,” Beck says. “Obviously craft beer has been doing phenomenally well. But there seems to be a gap as far as a national brand. There are a number of regionals, but no truly national ale,” he says.
Hmm. I actually think that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale may already have the title. It’s become ubiquitous in the damnedest places, like Omaha Nebraska and Chicago. However, Sierra Nevada still doesn’t sell in the millions of barrels, does it. And of course, even Sierra Nevada, the number two craft brewer after Sam Adams, doesn’t begin to have the advertising clout of A-B. And we all know that advertising sells Budweiser, so why not Budweiser American Ale.
What does the beer taste like? Don’t know. “This is not an IPA,” Beck says. “People who are die-hard craft beer drinkers may not prefer it. We’ve produced something that is more mild; it’s not loaded with hops. It’s an easy drinkable beer,” Beck says.
They brewed the beer with a variety of different ale yeasts before choosing a winner, he adds. With ales, compared to lager strains, an ale yeast is more important in the beer. A-B didn’t want a ton of esters, the component of ales that taste like ripe fruit. They also didn’t want a yeast the produce an overly sweet beer, Beck says. Budweiser American Ale’s been in development for a long time, Beck adds. In trials, the beer was brewed with seven different hops in various combinations.
Initially, it will be brewed in St. Louis and at the A-B plant in Fort Collins, Colo.
And what about the influence of InBev, which has won agreement from the A-B board to buy the company. That’s management, Beck says. He’s a brewer. Got a hunch that brewers will still be welcome at the merged company.