And, really, is this not just the height of hypocrisy? Here's Bud, which wraps itself in the flag at every opportunity, yet is owned by a foreign company (InBev) taking pot shots at the real all-American breweries. Further, the Bud ad denigrates craft beer drinkers and breweries while its parent company, Anheuser-Busch/InBev, busily runs around buying up craft breweries, or invents pseudo-craft brews, so that they can get a piece of the craft beer pie for themselves. In the ad they blast craft brewers for producing such abominations as Pumpkin Peach Ale, yet A-B just bought Elysian Brewery which in fact makes a pumpkin peach beer called Goardia on My Mind (great name, haven't tried the beer).
Look, we here at BOTB have had some fun at times with some of the fruity beers - the raspberry wheats, the blueberry and apricot beers that sometimes stray too far from their beer roots and taste more like a soft drink than they do an ale. But kudos to craft brewers for experimenting with different flavors. After all, a lot of people like those fruity beers even though it's not our mug of ale, so to speak. And some people love their Budweiser, and good for them. No one's trying to take that away. The key here is choice. In my lifetime never have there been so many wonderful options when it comes to beer and that's a great thing. AB/InBev I'm sure would love to see the US go back to the bad old days where the only choice was lager, lager or light lager.
For a great no-holds-barred interview with Dogfish Head's founder Sam Calagione, check out this article, Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione Squares Off Against Budweiser from Men's Journal on-line mag.
Since the ad aired, a number of craft brewers have come up with their own ads bashing the Bud ad. This one from Ninkasi is particularly pointed and dripping with irony.
This month we checked out a few Highland brews and found them quite guid.
NEWCASTLE BREWING + CALEDONIAN BREWING
What the Brewer Says: "A malty brown ale fermented with Scottish Edinburgh yeast. Flaked oats and six different barley malts...are used in this rich tasting ale. Lightly hopped to let out the sweetness of the malt. A fun beer to make and a fun beer to drink."
Pour: Decent head
Aroma: Yeast typical of British Isle beers (bit of banana aroma)
Body: Between medium and full
Taste: Sweet / malt with notes of toffee
Overall Impression: I could drink that
Comments: "Creamy malt; Smooth; I like this; Similar in taste to Newcastle, but fuller body; A little sweet, but boy it's good; Water aftertaste; Funny, they refer to it as a Scottish ale but the ABV is up there in the Scotch ale range. Doesn't taste that big, though; A well-made beer; It's a sweetie."
The Beer Facts: BREWERY: McEwan's, Edinburgh, Scotland; STYLE: Scotch Ale (export only); ABV: 8.0%;
What the Brewer Says: "McEwan's Scotch Ale has a lot of loyal followers, especially in North America, and its rebirth is a direct result of customer demand."
Pour: Decent head
Aroma: Reminiscent of maple syrup
Taste: Malty and sweet with a bitter bite. Notes of caramel, toffee, maple, raisins and brown sugar.
Overall Impression: Close to "Can't Get Enough"
Comments: "Nice finish; Full; attacks the side of your tongue; Not as roasted a malt as some others; sneaky beer - they've hidden the alcohol well; 50 shades of black; Could pour it on your pancakes; Not just for breakfast anymore; You really get a taste that reminds you of raisins and molasses, but there's enough hop bite to ensure it's not cloyingly sweet; Nice beer."
The Beer Facts: BREWERY: Davidson Brothers, Glens Falls, NY; STYLE: Scotch Ale; ABV: 8.3%
What the Brewer Says: "Our Scotch Ale is more technically called a Strong Scotch Ale, and it doesn't fail to live up to its name...This is a favorite among wine drinkers, with its sweet profile and high alcohol content."
Pour: Better than Decent.
Aroma: Not a strong aroma - a touch of smoke, molasses.
Taste: Alcohol, sweet with notes of molasses, toffee, caramel.
Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough
Comments: "Tastes like a big beer; Tastes a lot bigger than the last beer; A bit fuller than the last beer; Residuals are not sweet; End that leaves a bit of a bitter finish; Very impressed with this beer; The alcohol cuts the sweetness."
The Beer Facts: BREWERY: Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI; STYLE: Scotch Ale; ABV: 8.5%; IBUs: 50.
What the Brewer Says: "So good it's almost wrong. Dark ruby in color and brewed with seven varieties of imported malts. Complex in finish, with hints of smoke and peat, paired with a malty richness and a right hook of hop power to give it the bad attitude that a beer named Dirty Bastard has to live up to. Ain't for the wee lads."
Aroma: Malty sugar, grassy but not a big aroma
Taste: Strong and bitter on the front, mellows on the back with notes of caramel, toffee and some balancing bitterness.
Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough
Comments: "Founders never disappoints; could almost chew this; A different approach to a Scotch Ale; More hops than in most today; In your face brew; A great beer; it's a Scotch Ale with hops; Great beer for a cold winter night."
Our two favorites were Founder's Dirty Bastard and Davidson Brothers Scot. Both were big, full-bodied, full-flavored beers. Both landed squarely in our "Can't Get Enough" camp. Dirty Bastard had strong toffee/caramel maltiness balanced with a nice hop kick. Scot had a similar profile though sweeter, with hints of molasses and brown sugar.
McEwan's Scotch Ale and Brew Dog's Punk IPA both were very near "Can't Get Enough." We found McEwan's delicious with strong taste of raisins, molasses, brown sugar and maple complementing the expected caramel/toffee. Good for a pint or two, but a bit on the sweet side for too many more. Punk IPA is an interesting hybrid of Old World UK style IPA and New World US style IPA. With a base of English Maris Otter Extra Pale Malt paired with US hops (Chinook, Athanum, Amarillo, Cascade, Simcoe) with some New Zealand Nelson Sauvin thrown in for good measure, Punk IPA has a distinctive American IPA vibe with a hint of its UK roots.
We gave both Newcastle-Caledonian Scotch Ale and Hopshire Farms Shire Ale a solid "I Could Drink This!" rating. The Newcastle brew maintained the sort of classic Newcastle taste as a base with a little more of a hop kick and classic Scotch Ale elements, though a bit more muted than some of the other Scotch Ales. One of the most pleasing aspect several of us commented on was its creamy mouthfeel. Shire Ale is a bit on the sweet side, but very tasty. Strong toffee malt taste with little hop presence. It's a solid Scottish Ale taste profile with a Scotch Ale ABV. Tastes like a session but it's too strong to fit that category.