[3/21 Update: Heard this was a good beer BUT it lost to Keystone Ice at the GABF!]
(Golden, CO) – I may never get to say this again. Today, I was scooped by the Wall Street Journal.
In mid-February, a label approval came through for a new beer called, “Coors Batch 19 Pre-Prohibition Style Lager.” I dug up some information and found out that Coors began testing this beer this past fall (contrary to what the WSJ reports). A Coors representative working on the project said that it was basically a non-story and other sources backed that up.
Flash forward to St. Patrick’s Day, and what rolls across my Twitter stream but an article posted by @BeerWars about Coors Batch 19 (and some other random tidbits from the mega-brewery). Fool me once . . .
Here is what the WSJ is reporting:
“Brewing giant MillerCoors LLC plans to test-market a new beer called Batch 19, which is based on a pre-Prohibition recipe, as part of several initiatives aimed at rejuvenating sales in the sluggish U.S. market.
MillerCoors will start selling the new brew next month in draft in bars and restaurants in Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco and Washington, said Peter Swinburn, chief executive of Molson Coors Brewing Co., which co-owns MillerCoors.
Mr. Swinburn said in an interview that Batch 19—named for the year, 1919, before Prohibition began—is designed to attract consumers looking for ‘a true, authentic, original beer.’ He said Keith Villa, master brewer at MillerCoors, found a recipe in the archives of Coors Brewing Co. in Golden, Colo., that was used to make one of its beers before alcohol was banned in the U.S. for a 13-year period. ‘It’s the beer that got beer banned,’ Mr. Swinburn joked.”
In light of a spirited discussion on Beer Advocate regarding immoral and illegal tactics being used by large brewers (allegedly), craft brewers have reason to take note of this. Some of the comments mention distributors playing on craft beer’s success to get more tap handles and shelf space only to swap in macro brands later. I’ve heard that Batch 19 is actually a pretty decent beer and not just slapping a fancy label on a bland Coors product but only time will tell whether this is a real play at making something “craft” or just a tactic.
Over 700 reviewers have poured in ratings for Budweiser American Ale at both BeerAdvocate and RateBeer. Will craft beer drinkers continue to test what AB-InBev and MillerCoors are delivering in the name of “craft” or will they put that money into craft breweries’ pockets?
This could get interesting.