It’s playoff football time and that means wings, BBQ and of course, beer. Let’s get one thing straight, football fans: while we’ve been following craft beer around the NFL this season and new releases like Bell’s Hopslam, Tröegs’ Nugget Nectar and Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine have us running to the nearest specialty beer store, it’s no secret that most of America still doesn’t give a goal-line stand about IBU’s, brettanomyces or wet-hopping. And that’s okay with us.
The NFL playoffs are often a release party of sorts for macrobrewers, especially Budweiser — which paid $1 billion for the NFL’s official sponsorship and has spent over $240 million in Super Bowl ads in the last decade alone — and this year is no different. Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) recently announced that a new premium line of Budweiser called Black Crown will be dropping this month, debuting during the Super Bowl. Black Crown originated from a 2012 contest between brewmasters at each of the 12 Budweiser breweries in the U.S. From the final six, a retail sampler pack was created and the public got to vote on the winner.
The champ, from Los Angeles-based brewmaster John Sullivan, is a deep-amber lager with a higher 6% ABV and four types of American hops. The major difference here is what is not used — possibly a much lower content of rice.
Black Crown isn’t the only AB InBev brand dipping into the premium beer market. Becks, a former giant of the German beer industry and now part of the AB InBev family, recently came out with Sapphire, a German-style Pilsner brewed with Saphir hops. Now brewed for the U.S. market in St. Louis, MO, the new dark packaging and higher 6% ABV looks a bit similar to Black Crown. While some people have complained that the U.S.-brewed Becks lacks its original taste, we can’t knock the addition of Saphir hops here.
So as we move towards the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 3rd, prepare yourself for the whopping four and a half minutes of planned Bud/Becks ads — you can see a breakdown of here. Perhaps looking to make up for the face time Heineken stole in the latest 007 flick, it will also be launching the Twitter hashtag #tasteis in conjunction with the Super Bowl ads. While you can wait for the Super Bowl to let Budweiser and Becks convince you to drink macro beer, let us take the opportunity to do it for you. If you are looking for a premium beer hidden within the Anheuser-Busch roster (as in, very widely available), try a Goose Island IPA. It’s highly drinkable and doesn’t need a makeover to taste good. In short, it’s actually what #tasteis.
Read these craft beer stories on Food Republic: