Craft beer fans ‘hopped up’ over Super Bowl ad

Is the glass half-empty or half-full?
For macro-brewers, such as Anheuser-Busch, it’s becoming increasingly full as Americans are drinking less of their beer. But for micro-brewers and craft-brewers, it’s quite the opposite. Long gone are the days when beer with funny names and an over abundance of hops are mocked in bars. Instead, they’re heavily preferred, which prompted Anheuser-Busch to launch its “Brewed The Hard Way” campaign during Super Bowl XLIX.
You may have seen it during Sunday’s game. The “Hard Way” ad features the rustic Budweiser factory and those famous Clydesdale horses symbolizing the idea of what beer should be. It then shows men with unkept facial hair (a stereotypically common trait among craft-beer lovers) inspecting their “Pumpkin Peach Ale” rather than drinking a traditional lager. The jab made the craft-beer crowd as bitter as their India Pale Ales.
Those beer fanatics typically stand behind their small brewers, as the American beer industry has taken on a David versus Goliath mentality in recent years. So is that campaign completely legitimate? Not quite. Pull up a stool and I’ll explain.
It has long been understood that craft-beer companies are unique, which is why 2,768 craft breweries thrived in 2013, according to Brewers Association, a group that monitors the craft-beer industry. That’s a 15.3 percent jump from 2012, when 2,401 breweries sold everything from malty porters to fruity ales to, yes, even traditional lagers.
Things continued to get worse in 2013 for Anheuser-Busch, giving this ad only more clout as we begin 2015. For the first time in history, craft brewers dominated beer market sales, collectively selling 16.1 million barrels of beer, slightly more than Budweiser’s 16 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. That forced Anheuser-Busch to follow the old adage: if you can’t beat them, join them.
So, join them they did, and in a significant way. The beer giant has purchased wholly or agreed to partnerships with eight craft-beer companies throughout the United States. Most are familiar names to craft fans, including Goose Island and Kona. Maybe you’ve sipped Shock Top thinking you’re enjoying a craft beer? Nope, it’s another Anheuser-Busch product.
Joining these brands with their existing products, the beer conglomerate now owns 47.6 percent of the American beer market share, according to the website.
This is where the problem lies. In their Super Bowl ad, Anheuser-Busch slams craft beers. They portray certain brands to be crafts through different branding and labeling.
But a portion (if not all) of the money lands in the ever-growing tip jar of Anheuser-Busch, not your mom-and-pop brewer. They have bought up these craft companies to grow their bottom line and compete against other craft knockoffs from their competing macro breweries, only to turn their back on the industry they actually support. Saving face, saving dollars.
But wait, there’s one last swirl left in the glass of hypocrisy, and this one tastes strong.
Anheuser-Busch has an “imports, crafts, and specialties” division. Yes, the company that spent $9 million for a one-minute Super Bowl ad to mimic craft beer does indeed have a section of its empire devoted specifically to the area of the industry it’s trying to limit. I’ll let that one sink in.
Needless to say, the hypocrisy of the ad didn’t make many craft-beer drinkers “hoppy.” It doesn’t please my palate, either. I like my information the way I like my beer: unfiltered.

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