Craft Brewer Blasts Budweiser Rebrand as ‘Un-American’

By Erik Oster 

Back in May, Budweiser announced it would be temporarily rebranding cans of its American style adjunct lager, with the word “America” replacing the name brand for a limited time this summer as part of its “America is in Your Hands” campaign. Like the rice-infused yellow swill itself, the decision left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of beer drinkers.

After pondering the subject for weeks, Will McCameron, president and co-owner of Brewery 85 in South Carolina, decided to say something, penning a critical response for craft beer blog Brew Studs. “Frankly, Budweiser calling itself ‘America’ is the most un-American thing I’ve observed in quite a while,” he wrote. 

That’s because the brand’s parent company, A-B InBev, is a a Belgian-Brazilian multinational corporation headquartered in Belgium. So while a good portion of Budweiser is still brewed in various locations across the country — most notably St. Louis, Missouri — there’s an undeniable hypocrisy, he argued, in labeling your beverage “America” but refusing to pay a fair share of American taxes. One could easily argue, as well, that many of A-B InBev’s business practices in regards to distributors seem to reject the American idea of fair, open competition. After laying out an overview of his arguments, he tied the issue to economic ideas brought up by the current election cycle, concluding “…don’t come to me bitching about the state of the American economy with a can of Bud in your hand.”


He did concede, however, that those most effectively targeted by Budweiser’s “America” stunt are also those least likely to know or care about the brand’s open hypocrisy — in his words, those who “either don’t want to pay a premium price for beer, aren’t concerned with taste, or don’t care how and where their beer is made.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time in recent years that Budweiser has angered the craft beer community while its parent company continues to gobble up larger craft breweries and attempt to confuse less knowledgeable consumers with faux-craft brands like Shock Top.

The 2015 Anomaly Super Bowl spot “Brewed the Hard Way created by agency Anomaly, not- so-subtly mocked craft beer while Bud proclaimed itself “Proudly a macro beer.” It was met with expected vitriol from a community of brewers who actually do brew the hard way, some of whom released a video of their own parodying the ad. For this year’s Super Bowl, Anomaly and the brand released a slightly toned-down follow up.

McCameron’s piece highlights the downside to Budweiser’s effort. One could argue that not many people who actually care about the beer they’re drinking would reach for a Budweiser by any name. But then, is the change attracting a significant number of new customers?

It’s even more difficult to know whether there are drinkers in the middle ground who may have reached for the watery brew in a pinch or to save money this summer but instead will opt for something else after being turned off by the hypocritical appeal to blind patriotism.