In Which We Sample Budweiser’s New ‘Craft’ Beer Offerings

Shocking Confession: We like beer. A lot.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s review some other facts: Bud Light is the best-selling beer in the world by a fairly wide margin, and when you ask someone to name the prototypical American brew they will, more often than not, say Budweiser.

At the same time, lots of small-label “craft” beers have begun earning greater market share in recent years, so Anheuser-Busch InBev decided to offer customers a little variety with a “brewmaster innovation platform” called Project 12 whose biggest product so far has been Budweiser Black Crown.

Bud’s latest step in the Project 12 campaign is a little different: it’s an experiment designed to “[expand] the brand’s offerings” by dipping a toe in that craft barrel while armed with descendants of the original Bud yeast cultures.

We had a chance to both sample the beers and speak to Budweiser VP Brian Perkins about the campaign. His comments and our completely objective critical review of the new suds after the jump:

What led you to create this campaign?

‘Project 12’ was well received in its inaugural year, [so we decided to] establish it as the innovation arm of Budweiser.

We wanted to give our brewmasters an opportunity to show some creativity by developing new Budweiser “tribute beers” that fit our brand’s taste profile.

What was your primary strategic goal with this project?

Our goals are to (1) showcase our brewing credentials and creativity and (2) drive reappraisal of Budweiser.

Budweiser brewmasters are the professional athletes of brewing. We threw them the ball and let them show off a bit.

Why do you think younger people are moving toward off-brand beers?

Beer drinkers are increasingly seeking variety. As the beer industry leader, we like seeing beer get the respect it deserves.

It’s less about “off-brand beers” and more about on-trend flavors.

How does this project fit into the identity of Anheuser Busch and, more specifically, Budweiser?

All three small-batch beers pay homage to Budweiser’s clean and crisp taste by using the proprietary yeast directly descended from the original Budweiser yeast culture used by Adolphus Busch in 1876 and still used by Budweiser today. The three new beers each provide beer drinkers a refreshing beer with a distinct personality and flavor. However, like Budweiser, all three beers use the highest quality ingredients and are brewed in state-of-the-art breweries.

Most importantly, the Budweiser brand is positively impacted by the Project 12 beers.

Do you plan to increase marketing on the new brews? If so, how do you intend to introduce them to the general audience?

This is a limited-edition sampler pack that is currently only available through the end of January, so we’ve tailored our marketing plans accordingly.

At one point, Bud Light was a brand innovation – and now it’s the best-selling beer in the world.

Now for our review: the three beers were both immediately identifiable as Budweiser and yet slightly different.

  • The Vanilla/Bourbon Cask variety had the sort of aged sweetness you’d expect from that pair with a bit of a smoky aftertaste that’s unusual for the brand.
  • The Beechwood Bock Amber Lager was copper-colored with a strong caramel essence and light hints of the chocolate mentioned in the product description.
  • North Pacific Style Lager was closest to the Bud products we know, with very little bitterness and a fruitier flavor than the previous two.

Oh, and we’ll be glad to sample any beverage your clients have been brewing and offer our honest opinion—as long as you get the tab.