SocraticGadfly: Mourn not the Wal-Mart of beers

July 17, 2008

Mourn not the Wal-Mart of beers

Hell, how do you think Budweiser got to call itself the “king of beers”? Rather than being a symbol of America right next to apple pie (maybe next to the faltering Chevrolet, though), it CRUSHED symbols of America, small-town, small-size beers, just like Wally-World crushed mom-and-pop five-and-dimes.
In 1960, there were 175 traditional breweries operating in the United States, most of them producing lagers not much different from Budweiser. As of 2005, there were 21, with Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors supplying 80 percent of the beer sold in taverns and party stores.

As Edward McClellan notes, Falstaff, of all beers, once outsold Bud in St. Louis. So, how did Bud kick butt? (Until it got its butt kicked, that is.)
Budweiser was a triumph of marketing over quality.

As for quality, although I don’t drink anymore, NONE of the American big-name beers are that good, compared to not only European beers but American microbrews.

Specifically, just as TV made the NFL, McClellan said it made Bud, too. Also, affiliation with the baseball Cardinals, who WERE the South’s team before the Braves moved, didn’t hurt.

But today, those microbrews have fought back.
In 1980, America had eight craft breweries. A quarter-century later, there are over 1,300. In some cases, they've recaptured regional loyalties.

Read the whole thing for a great take on the rise and fall of the Budweiser Empire.

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