Anheuser-Busch Brewmaster’s Small Batch series to debut

Anheuser-Busch Brewmaster's Small Batch No. 0538

(St. Louis, MO) – Anheuser-Busch received label approval for the first of what will appears to be the first in a new series of beers. The label for Anheuser-Busch Brewmaster’s Small Batch No. 0538 is non-descript other than it will be available in 12 oz. bottles and the ABV is 5%. The actual ABV may differ by the time that the beer is actually released.

Anheuser-Busch sparked a frenzy when it launched the ‘craft beer’-like Budweiser American Ale in 2008. At the time, Beervana’s Jeff Alworth wrote, “I love that Bud has made a serious beer. It looks to me like a trojan horse that millions of Americans may unwittingly invite into their refrigerators. And once dry-hopped ales get in there, they may never leave.”

That is what the debate comes down to…some argue that the big breweries’ attempts to enter the ‘better beer’ category will hurt it while others think that those attempts could increase adoption (the gateway effect) and, at the very least, raise awareness of the category.

Do you welcome Anheuser-Busch’s efforts in the better beer category?

18 thoughts on “Anheuser-Busch Brewmaster’s Small Batch series to debut

  1. Part of me is of the opinion that good beer is good beer, and it should be judged on its own merits. Yet even if these beers are amazing and well-crafted — and let’s face it, A-B has the wherewithal to brew great beer — I can’t in good conscience purchase them.

    There is a huge difference in brewing craft beer because you believe in it and the people who enjoy it, and brewing it in an attempt to appeal to a market that is infringing on your own.

  2. This is a business decision based on a passion for money and a rapidly expanading craft beer industry, not a passion for great beer. ABInBev has the talent and money to brew great beer (even something like Dark Lord), but the mega-corporate folks behind a decision like this just don’t get it. Take ‘Lime-a-Rita for example…

  3. A Dark Lord? That’s like trying to say that a kid going to an art school could make art just like DaVinci or Steadman (yup, had to throw Ralph in there). The craft beers created by small brewers are pieces fine art. Sure the kid in art school is probably very talented and yes, you can also call him an artist. Hell, he may be the next art god! But there is a much more to knowing how to do something. And I have to admit, I am not much into trojan horse tactics when it comes to my beer. Why should anyone have to “trick” someone into buying their beer?….hmmm? I guess you can all fill in your own thought there…

  4. LupulinDevil: Brewing is an art, but not as much as it is a science. As much as it pains me to say, I feel pretty confident in saying Budweiser could clone Dark Lord with no problem.

  5. Gotta agree with Daniel on this. Hell you can make a pretty good clone beer in your basement, assuming with their tech they can make anything they want.

    Fairly sure that this wont be my favorite beer of all time but I am not going to discount it simply because of the parent company so I will at least give it a try. Just my 2 cents. Any one else wanna weigh in? Or better yet, anyone tried it?

  6. Please send all DLD clones to:
    Steve Smith
    223 Charles Ave SE
    Grand Rapids. MI 49503

  7. Couple interesting things to note here:

    Stone’s head brewer? Former A-B brewer. Ommagang’s head brewer? Former A-B brewer (or Miller/Coors, can’t remember). Dogfish Head’s head brewer? Former Miller/Coors brewer. You get the idea. The point is, many of these brewers came from the same couple of schools in the US (mostly UC Davis), took great paying jobs with the big boys, sacrificed creativity to brew the same beer over and over, got tired of it and now are back doing what they truly care about on the craft side of things. Plus, they know how to operate a fully-functioning brewery like no other (logistics, raw materials, supply chain, etc). So, yes, A-B or Miller/Coors could totally brew insanely amazing beers but they probably won’t because their brewers must go through a million chains of command to even get approval for such a thing. And by then, all passion and creativity has been lost and what filters out is a marketing ploy with volume and distribution points being the main goal…not great beer.

    Greg Koch of Stone put it very well once (paraphrasing here). He basically said, think of you and your lady’s favorite romance movie. You have a couple beers, watch that movie. lie next to each other and then it’s on. You can’t tell me the sex isn’t better and more passionate than without that inspiration and ambiance. That’s craft produced beer verses macro produced beer.

  8. AB could easily clone Dark Lord? What are you all talking about? If AB could “easily” clone a Dark Lord, don’t you think every other small craft brewer in the country (that actually cares about making quality beer) would’ve been able to make a beer as good as Dark Lord? Possibly one of the least thought out things I’ve ever heard. No offense. You’re talking about an arguably Top 5 stout in the US being made by a massive company that probably cares the least about making quality products.

  9. I happen to know that most AB brewing facilities are experimenting and brewing many different styles of beer that have nothing to do with their core line-up of AB or contract products. I have been competing against AB/ABI every year of my beer career and dislike many of their tactics and business practices. However, assuming that their brewers or brewery employees are not passionate about beer (even craft beer) or are all Bud drinking rednecks would be simply wrong.

    This project is much less about financial gain or some dark lord looking to throw a kink in the system. I doubt it is a marketing ploy or an attempt to gain more shelf space (they spend way too much money on Shock Top and Bud Light line extensions to pay serious attention to a brewmasters desires). It is probably about brewmasters doing what they do best; and, when they hit a homerun, letting the beer drinking public decide for themselves whether they like it or not. Currently the only ones that get to enjoy these project beers from AB are employees or a friend who happens to know some an employee who decided to share.

    Wow… I just kinda defended ABI, weird day.

  10. Hey Jack,

    AB has more resources and finances (that’s key, here) than all the small breweries you’re talking about. Of course they could brew a Dark Lord. There’s just no money in that for them. Selling off a few thousand bombers is nothing to them.

    I think for you to just automatically assume AB can’t brew such a beer just because they don’t already is one of the least thought out things I’ve heard. No offense. 😉


  11. Bud American Ale is (was?) a decent beer. AB makes bad beer because bad beer makes good business sense, not because they don’t have the skill or interest in selling something better. It’s easier to sell what people know and that’s true in any business. Why do millions of people buy Oreos or Coke, because they are the best cookie or soda? No, because they are familiar. When you start marketing a new product millions and millions needs to be spent to get it out there. From the AB point of view, it’s not cost effective. However, they’ve seen their market share drop and it will continue to drop as people’s tastes change. If they came out with “real beer” (to use the English phrase), I would be all means try it. And if I liked it, I’d buy it. If AB made a beer on par with DL or KBS, why wouldn’t you drink it? Unless you have some belief that all big businesses are evil, I don’t know why not. AB, Miller/Coors, they all have the know-how and technology to make true “craft beer.” If they make them, is entirely up to what is best for them and their shareholders.

  12. People don’t buy Oreos or Coke because they’re familiar — or at least not only for that reason. Many people legitimately enjoy Oreos and Coke, just as many actually enjoy Bud Light and have no interest in a more flavorful beer.

  13. I think any craft or home brewer has always known that any mega brewer like AB has a staff of expert brewmasters (who else could make such a well-crafted, balanced brew that tastes like nothing?) and the technology to make any style of beer the best any of us has ever had. The thing that keeps them from decimating the craft brew industry: the bucks, baby! It’s all about the bottom line. It would cost them too much on margins to maintain their bottom line. So, rest easy fellow crafters, they’ll never go all the way.

  14. I agree, big guys like AB can afford to “buy” the best graduates from UC Davis. And they do! Or some of the best ingredients, they do that also. Companies like ABInBev have quality on lock down too! You drink a product from their company in NY or FL or CA, …that shit is gonna taste the EXACT same. What I am getting at, is not just a bottom dollar or the smarts of beer, but the passion, the skill, the artistry and the people behind it. If you don’t believe that plays a part in the profile of a beer, knowing the history and it’s backbone, then I’m at a loss for words. I believe in that as a factor of what I taste. So may the masses consume oreos, bud light and the rest. Eat, drink and be merry. “Baaah – Baaah – Baaah” say the sheep.

  15. To me, it’s not about how the mega corporation’s beer tastes… it’s about where my money is going. I don’t care about their stock price, and I certainly don’t care that August IV salary/profit sharing increases by a million dollars. I am not supporting that. Just look at their social responsibility… they make billions of dollars in profit, and give back 40k to a school in China and congratulate themselves?:// It’s the corporation, not the beer that’s evil.

  16. Well, hasn’t this been interesting? Beer snobs dissing Bud because it is ‘bad’ or ‘shitty’. There are many poorly crafted beers that fit that description, some brewed by mega brewers and some by craft brewers. I’ve tasted plenty of micro-brewed beers that tasted like bad home brew. Bud Light fills the bill for those who want a light, crisp, clean, refreshing beer that doesn’t challenge their palate and is inexpensive. I have rational, intelligent friends who like Bud Light but can’t stomach an IPA or Imperial Stout. Many folks would eat a $5. fast food burger or mac & cheese rather than seeking out and spending $$$ for a plate of Foie Gras, but I won’t diss someone for eating $$$ fat goose liver or a Big Mac just because I don’t care for either. To each his own.
    “Yah, but Bud, and Miller use rice and corn in their beer”, you say. Well so does Bear Republic, The Bruery, Great Divide, Cigar City, Kuhnhenn…Ahhh Kuhnhenn Imperial Creme Brulee Java Stout… I need a trip to Detroit. I digress. And doesn’t Dark Lord have some adjuncts in it?
    I started drinking beer before Fritz Maytag and Jim Koch got into the beer business, so my choice of styles was slim. American Lager, Ballantine Ale (a good beer back then) and bock in the spring (made when they cleaned the vats, so we were told). Please just celebrate the fact that we are living in a time and place where we can taste the finest brews known to mankind. Enjoy the adventure. Life is too short to be a beer biggot.

  17. Pfft…as if Dark Lord is considered the pinnacle of craft brewing – full flavored styles are the easiest to make – lots of places to hide poor brewing techniques. Personally, I think its an under attenuated sweet mess that is underinkable beyond a couple cold ozs. And wasn’t there reports of green apple flavor in the last batch ? – maybe A-B is making it already…..

    Haven’t been too impressed with the handful of craft attempts I have had by A-B so far (that Michelob dunkle weizen is probably the best I’ve had from them) , so I’m skeptical they will make something good, but I will keep an open mind and give them a try – especially if they are reasonably priced and fresh – something that many crafts don’t/can’t/won’t provide.

  18. Drank 3 of these beers last night and as a home brewer from St.Louis I must admit….it’s not bad. Still no comparison to my craft beers that I put alot of love and work into.

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