Hop Talk Podcast #9 – Shut up and drink your damn beer!

In this episode we talk about

  • Wine ties beer for most popular booze
  • Anheuser-Busch fakes local beer
  • Craft brewers sell in fewer places to sell more beer
  • and, Hop Talk’s Anniversary!

Download it here: Hop Talk Podcast ep. 9

…or subscribe with iTunes

Show notes:

Beer News

In a Gallup poll, beer and wine tied as the most popular alcoholic beverage among Americans. We wonder why women so overwhelmingly declare wine as their preference.

Anheuser-Busch is seeking trademarks of three-digit numbers that match up to iconic area codes, like ”303″ (Denver), “713″ (Houston), and “702″ (Las Vegas). Is this related to the newly-acquired Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale? What is A-B up to?

Some craft brewers are pulling back from expanding and are in fact contracting in order to meet local demand. Good idea?

Five Years of Hop Talk!

Can you believe we’ve been blogging for five years? Neither can we. We talk a bit about our origins.

Bottle vs. Cans

We’re looking for more craft beer that is available both bottled and canned. If you know of any drop us a line.

What we drank:

Spot a discrepancy? Something missing? Let us know. contact@hop-talk.com

Follow us on Twitter: @hoptalk and @hoptalkron

Music credits:

Background music at bar during intro:
Artist: Gnappy
Song: Best Not FUnck Around

Main intro:
Artist: A Thousand Knives of Fire
Song: She’s Yours

Outro Music:
Artist: Aphasia
Song: Metal Tank

Transition Music:
Artist: Devil In A Woodpile
Song: Beer Ticket Rag

Wild Blue Blueberry Lager

Beer-a-Day #261Wild Blue

Brewed with a blend of two- and six-row barley malt, classic Aroma hops from the Willamette Valley in the Pacific Northwest and German hops from the Hallertau region in Bavaria and all-natural blueberry syrup made from real blueberries.

This is actually a “stealth” faux-craft offering from Anheuser-Busch. It first hit test markets in 2005 and won the gold medal in the fruit beer category at the 2006 North American Beer Awards. It went nationwide in spring 2008, but this is the first I’ve seen of it.

It's pink!It’s red. Not a deep amber, but red. And the head is pink. I can smell the blueberries all the way from over here. It smells like Boo Berries. The blueberry overpowers any beer that might be in there. My wife says that it’s not the worst fruit beer she’s ever had (and I concur) but, as so often happens, the fruit is so overwhelming that it tastes like Kool-Aid made with beer. Some people might like this, but it’s not for me. And a whopping 8% ABV, too.

Anheuser-Busch press release on nationwide release of Wild Blue, including a recipe for vinaigrette dressing

Shock Top Belgian White

Beer-a-Day #235

© Christopher Vigliotti

Shock Top Belgian White (Image © Christopher Vigliotti)

Shock Top is an unfiltered Belgian-style wheat ale (also known as a “White” or “Wit” beer due to its appearance) that is naturally cloudy with a billowy white foam head, light golden hue and slight taste of orange peel and coriander.

Yes, this is a faux-craft beer. I suppose it’s Anheuser-Busch’s response to Blue Moon (which is Coors’ faux-craft Belgian White). But I’m all for being open-minded about my beer and not getting hung up on its roots.

Pale hazy yellow. Head drops quickly. A little lemon and spice in the aroma. Taste is a little bland. It’s okay, and it’s not my favorite style, but I’ve had better.

Shock Top Belgian White

Bud Ice Light

Bud Ice LightBeer-a-Day #225

Anheuser-Busch’s exclusive ice-brewing process takes the beer to a temperature below freezing, which leads to the formation of ice crystals in the finishing process that gives Bud Ice and Bud Ice Light their rich, smooth taste.

Just when I thought I was done with macro lagers…

I don’t have high hopes for this one. It’s “light” and there’s that “ice-brewing process”. It’s more like “let’s take a beer with little-to-no flavor and remove some flavor from it”.

Yeah, yeah. “Keep an open mind” and all that.

It’s like water with a little yellow food coloring added. The white head seems to be lasting longer than some other macros I’ve had recently…nevermind. It’s gone. Smells a little bit like rotten pineapple and stale beer. At least it’s not skunked which, considering the funky clear bottle it’s in, is a surprise. (They probably use hop extract.)  It’s flat, and it tastes like a fraternity basement bar smells. I suppose on a really, really hot day this would be fairly refreshing (and your only other option was antifreeze).

Anheuser-Busch: Bud Ice / Bud Ice Light

Michelob Dunkel Weisse

Michelob Dunkel WeisseBeer-a-Day #214

Anheuser-Busch InBev has repositioned its Michelob brand as “faux craft”. The slogan is, after all, “Crafting a Better Beer”.

Well, hell, I don’t want to get caught up in that “it’s not really craft so it’s no good” nonsense. Sure, I generally prefer to give my money to smaller, local companies. But if it’s good beer why wouldn’t I drink it?

The Dunkel Weisse web page also has the kind of information I like to see about a beer: color; stats like ABV, IBUs, original gravity, etc.; and recommended food pairings.

Deep amber color and clear, with an off-white head with some staying power. Banana and cloves in the aroma with a vaguely vinyl smell. Taste has a little bit of a smoky flavor in addition. I know that I keep saying I like wheat beers when I profess not to, but this time this is one I don’t like.

Michelob Dunkel Weisse

What recession? A-B posts third-quarter gains

In case you hadn’t noticed, the American economy is in a world of hurt. Ford just announced a huge quarterly loss and thousands of job cuts. GM and Chrysler are expected to do the same.

Anheuser-Busch, in the midst of being acquired by InBev, is doing just fine though. In the third quarter:

  • U.S. beer volume up 2.3%
  • U.S. revenue per barrel up 3.7%
  • U.S. sales to retailers up 3.6%

International sales were even better.

A look at Anheuser-Busch’s 3Q business

I’ve heard that beer is mostly recession-proof.

How about you? Have your beer purchasing patterns changed lately?

Beer drinkers try to derail InBev / Anheuser-Busch deal

Just when I though I wasn’t going to write any more about InBev’s acquisition of Anheuser-Busch…

Apparently, ten regular drinkers of Anheuser-Busch products filed suit in St. Louis to block the deal on antitrust grounds.

Beer Drinkers Challenge InBev-Anheuser-Busch Deal

The suit, filed in Anheuser-Busch’s hometown of St. Louis, does not seek financial damages but asks a judge to block the deal. The Department of Justice often reviews large acquisitions to determine if they are legal under U.S. law. But attorneys behind the lawsuit said they want to halt the deal regardless of the verdict in Washington.

“The Justice Department can do whatever they want. They have no absolutely no effect on private actions,” said Joseph Alioto, the lead attorney in the case. He declined to say Wednesday who was funding the lawsuit.

George Will: Beer is essential

In his Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post two weeks ago, George F. Will used the (at the time) as yet unaccepted offer from InBev for Anheuser-Busch as seen in Investor’s Business Daily as a lead-in to meander from beer as a staple, to beer as essential to civilization, to beer and its role in natural selection.

The story asserted: “The [alcoholic beverage] industry’s continued growth, however slight, has been a surprise to those who figured that when the economy turned south, consumers would cut back on nonessential items like beer.”

“Non what“? Do not try to peddle that proposition in the bleachers or at the beaches in July. It is closer to the truth to say: No beer, no civilization.

The bulk of the piece discusses the research in The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic — and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson. More specifically, how alcohol, specifically beer, was necessary for civilization to grow. Alcohol has natural anti-bacterial properties (not to mention the long boiling necessary to brew killed plenty of “bugs” as well) and was safer to drink than the water.

He concludes that beer is very much essential.

George F. Will – Survival of the Sudsiest

I only had two problems with the article. One, the mugs of Budweiser in the accompanying photograph look so…weak. Okay, sure, it was appropriate to include A-B’s flagship beer, but my goodness it looks like it has no flavor at all.

The other issue I had was that Mr. Will unfortunately perpetuated the beer urban legend that Ben Franklin said that “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” It just ain’t so.

It’s official: Anheuser-Busch InBev

$50 billion and you can become the world’s largest beer manufacturer.

Anheuser-Busch Agrees to Be Sold to InBev

The combined company is expected to be named Anheuser-Busch InBev, fulfilling a promise by the Belgian company to include the Anheuser name in the new brewer’s title, people briefed on the matter said. Anheuser will be given two seats on the board, including one for August A. Busch IV, the company’s chief executive and a scion of its controlling family.

When this deal is consummated, the three largest brewers in the U.S. will not be American-owned at all.

Job Cuts Inevitable For InBev-Anheuser

Gerard Rijk, an analyst with ING Financial Markets, said job cuts would happen particularly at the corporate level, as well as in the marketing and administrative departments. “The companies can merge their businesses in the UK, China and North America,” he said.

In response to concerns of job cuts, InBev, whose mostly Brazilian management team has a reputation for ruthless cost-cutting, promised to keep the headquarters of the North American division of the company in St. Louis and pledged that it wouldn’t close any of Anheuser’s breweries.

That $50 billion purchase price will require $45 billion in debt. Gotta pay off those loans somehow.

I guess if you want to drink an American light lager that’s truly American, Pabst is your beer. Or Yuengling. They’re #4 and #6 respectively of the top beer brands in 2007. Samuel Adams is #5.

Anheuser-Busch sells out at $70 a share

It is being widely reported this weekend that InBev has increased their offer to $70 per share for Anheuser-Busch, and that the A-B Board of Directors is prepared to accept the offer.

InBev had recently begun a campaign to unseat the current Board. But, apparently confident the deal will go through, InBev has already begun setting up the loans it will need to finance the deal.

Belgian brewer would pay $70 a share

An official announcement will probably be made Monday.

There are still plenty of folks opposed to the deal. Some, however, haven’t completely thought things through.

This Bud Might Not Be for Them

Jordan Moore took the news that his beloved Budweiser could soon fall into foreign hands very personally: He decided he would scrap his plan to get the logo of the King of Beers tattooed on his right rib cage.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” said the 21-year-old concrete worker during his lunch break at The Brick of St. Louis bar, in the shadow of this city’s storied Anheuser-Busch Cos. brewery, “if Budweiser is made by a different country, I don’t drink Budweiser anymore. I’ll go back to Wild Turkey.” (Wild Turkey, a Kentucky bourbon, is owned by French drinks giant Pernod Ricard SA.)

InBev logoI’ll bet he also shops at Wal-Mart, where just about everything in there is manufactured in China. (Except for some of the display racks. I know they’re made in the U.S. because my brother makes them.)

Expect there to be continuing resistance from political corners as well.

InBev Raises Its Offer for Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser’s about-face risks raising the hackles of Missouri politicians and customers who rallied to the brewer’s side as it sought to fight off the unwanted advances. InBev sought to head off criticism by promising to keep the combined company’s headquarters in St. Louis and to maintain “the Anheuser-Busch heritage” in the new entity’s name.

That did little to assuage Matthew R. Blunt, the governor of Missouri, who said he was “strongly opposed” to an InBev takeover of Anheuser. Last month, he requested a review of the offer by the Federal Trade Commission.

“I am concerned that this sale would have destabilizing impacts on our nation and state’s long-term economic interests,” Mr. Blunt wrote in a letter to the regulator. “I am opposed to this buyout and am asking you to conduct this review as quickly as possible.”

Anheuser’s political support crossed party lines. Mr. Blunt and Christopher S. Bond, Missouri’s Republican senator, were joined by two of the state’s top Democrats: the state’s other United States senator, Claire McCaskill, and Mayor Francis G. Slay of St. Louis.

Mr. Bond said, “InBev buying Anheuser-Busch is as popular in St. Louis as $4 gas.”

And perhaps just as inevitable.

Once again, it looks like the only winners in this deal are shareholders.