What To Do When Your Beer Sucks

You’re a large brewer with a long history of brewing an . . uh . . American adjunct lager, but sales have been declining and you just can’t make any gains on those Budweiser boys. You’ve got a big pot of money sitting around which you can use to fix the problem.  How do you spend the money?

Well, here’s a good read from FastCompany.com.  It explains how MillerCoors significantly increased sales of Coors Light – not by convincing anyone it tastes good, but by convincing everyone it was cold.  And they’re up front about that.  A bit wryly sly about it, even.  Hey, who wouldn’t smirk after pulling a fast one to boost the company bottom line. Then again, is it fair to be smug when you consider the target audience?

As the author notes, “MillerCoors knew that nothing distinguished its marquee beer from the competition. So it made something up.” That something was “cold.”

Cold, my friends, is not a flavor. In fact it’s the anti-flavor, rendering most of our taste buds unable to distinguish anything but bitterness.  Apparently, MillerCoors says the top complaint about their Coors Light is that the “beer is watery.”  Umm . . . well, that’s a good place to start, though I’d rather drink watery water.

This is an interesting story from an advertising perspective.  It’s also interesting from the insight it gives into the beer world. When it comes to Big Beer, craft beer drinkers have long known it’s not about the beer.  It’s what scares us when Big Beer buys up great beer (i.e. Goose Island).  It’s also why we’re skeptical when Big Beer tells us they don’t plan to interfere with great beer once purchased. If they’ll spend millions to make something up, what boundary is left to cross?

Still, it’s nice to see a slice of Big Beer come clean – sort of.  Being about the beer is why we gravitate to our local breweries. Being about the beer is why we start blogs, and create festivals and host craft beer weeks.  Being about the beer is about people, and art, and science, and craft.

Let’s raise a toast to being about the beer.