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February 27, 2013 6:47 AM   Subscribe

The BBC reports that "Beer drinkers in the US have filed a $5m (£3.3m) lawsuit accusing Anheuser-Busch of watering down its beer." The lawsuits are based on information from former employees at breweries owned by the multinational.

Reuters: The plaintiffs in the lead lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco are Nina Giampaoli and John Elbert. Giampaoli for the past four years has bought a six-pack of Budweiser every week, the lawsuit said.

Chicago Tribune: Ten Anheuser-Busch products were named in the lawsuits: Budweiser, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice and Bud Light Lime.

CNN: The class-action lawsuit alleges that the maker of the "King of Beers" has the technology to precisely control the amount of alcohol in its beers but adds water so that the alcohol is well below the advertised figure of 5% by volume, the suit said.

The Business Journal: In addition to $5 million in damages, the lawsuits are requesting a court order requiring Anheuser-Busch to fund a “corrective advertising campaign” to remedy its allegedly illegal conduct.
posted by Wordshore (125 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just to get the obvious first remark out of the way:

Watered down? Further? How would you know? How would you even notice?
posted by gimonca at 6:49 AM on February 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


Break out the sex-in-a-canoe vs American beer jokes.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:50 AM on February 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


Next obvious remark:

This is surprising to anyone that's had Bud?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:50 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Giampaoli for the past four years has bought a six-pack of Budweiser every week, the lawsuit said." - he's not embarrassed that this is now public?
posted by Wordshore at 6:55 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Inbev owns a LOT of beers. It can happen to your favorite beer too (which sucks, btw.)

Say goodbye to Goose Island if you're a fan.
posted by Max Power at 6:57 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


so that the alcohol is well below the advertised figure of 5% by volume

Beer is often limited by States to certain percentage of alcohol, whether by volume or weight (gravity). I don't know enough about the specifics of beer production to kknow how this would effect the lawsuit.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:57 AM on February 27, 2013


*waits for the thread to become the usual slew of "I don't drink those sorts of beer, I only drink (insert microbrew here)*
posted by Kitteh at 6:59 AM on February 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


Giampaoli for the past four years has bought a six-pack of Budweiser every week, the lawsuit said.

Party at Ms. Giampaoli's house!
posted by inturnaround at 6:59 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Previously: The Plot to Destroy America's Beer

This is not to say that Brito lacks American admirers. Many can be found on Wall Street, where investors care less about where beers are brewed than about how profitable they are. This is where Brito shines. After InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, he slashed costs at the combined company by $1.1 billion in a single year.

There’s one hitch. AB InBev’s CEO is a skilled financial engineer, but he has had trouble selling beer... Brito is alienating lovers of AB InBev’s imports by not importing them. And he’s risking the devotion of American beer lovers by fiddling with the Budweiser recipe in the name of cost-cutting.


Surely this guy wouldn't be involved in such a nefarious scheme?
posted by Jakey at 6:59 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Josh Boxer, an attorney behind the legal challenge, acknowledged his San Rafael, California-based Mills Law Firm is not basing its claims on independent testing of Anheuser-Busch products taken from store shelves.

Non-rhetorical question here: how difficult is it to take commercially-sold beer and test it? Like how many digits would the bill be? Or is it something that is rather tricky and could much more easily be done instead in-process?
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:00 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


> how difficult is it to take commercially-sold beer and test it?

Not technically hard, depending on what you're testing. The challenge is to somehow have well-preserved samples of identical products sold in the same region before the change was claimed to have occurred.
posted by ardgedee at 7:04 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


My dad is a notorious Natural Light drinker; I sort of want to call him and ask him, "So....does it taste any different? Or does it still taste like 'avoiding my stepmother because you keep the beer fridge in the garage'?"
posted by Kitteh at 7:04 AM on February 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


What a waste of time and resources.
posted by HuronBob at 7:06 AM on February 27, 2013


On the other hand, watering down the beer has reduced cycling accidents.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:07 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can anyone find the actual complaint(s) filed? I'm interested in what substance they have to back up the allegations. There's no doubt in my mind that Anheuser-Busch InBev should have the process control in place to make sure that the actual and advertised alcohol content agree with one another. If they're purposely misstating that information, then they're defrauding consumers and should be punished appropriately.

(In lieu of the actual complaint, here's the press release upon which much of the reporting appears to be based, and from which many news outlets have drawn quotes.)
posted by compartment at 7:07 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Microbrews for the win.
posted by Fizz at 7:08 AM on February 27, 2013


Watered down? Further? How would you know? How would you even notice?

In all seriousness, it isn't that hard. Yes, they're not flavor bombs, but because of that, the alcohol notes is more prominent. There are many American Light Lagers, but if you honestly taste three of them, you'll taste three different beers. Unless your sense of taste and smell is slagged, in which case, the expensive beers are going to taste the same too. :-)

One thing the InBev buyout of AB did was get me several good IT people, because InBev apparently outsources all IT, rebids that contract annually, and has crappy IT as a result.

I've also been told, but cannot verify, that a number of the AB brewers have left because they're not happy with the product. Once again, told, but cannot prove.
posted by eriko at 7:08 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


THIS IS A 5TH LEVEL MARKETING SCAM!

Anheuser-Busch has a directive to reach new markets. It knows that one market, homebrewers, is pretty much closed to them. They also know that homebrewers have the equipment at home to test whether or not Anheuser-Busch products meet the ABV printed on their labels. If the one million homebrewers in the US each spend 5 bucks on a sixpack of Bud in order to test their ABV, Anheuser-Busch has just broken even on the "lawsuit" and sold beer to those who normally would not buy from them.

WAKE UP SHEEPLE
GOOGLE CHARLIE PAPAZIAN
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:09 AM on February 27, 2013 [32 favorites]


*waits for the thread to become the usual slew of "I don't drink those sorts of beer, I only drink (insert microbrew here)*

Naw, I wouldn't say that.

Instead, I would say, "I don't drink Budweiser. I drink beer."
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:10 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I hate it when I get Budweiser in my water.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 7:11 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I actually drink Ballantine. Mainly for the intellectual stimulation of the bottlecap rebuses.
posted by jonmc at 7:13 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't drink those sorts of beer, I only drink (insert microbrew here)

I actually had a Budweiser very recently. The surprising thing, to my palate, is how sweet it is.
posted by eriko at 7:14 AM on February 27, 2013


how difficult is it to take commercially-sold beer and test it?
Not technically hard, depending on what you're testing. The challenge is to somehow have well-preserved samples of identical products sold in the same region before the change was claimed to have occurred.
Why would you need to do that? The CNN article says that the lawsuit claims the alcohol content is well below the advertised 5% by volume. I don't pay enough attention to beer ads to know, but if it's really advertised as being 5% by volume, then all you have to do is measure it and see whether it is or not. You don't have to compare it to some other glass of beer produced at some other time.
posted by Flunkie at 7:16 AM on February 27, 2013


It's easy to hate Budweiser, but it really does have a time and place. For reference, here is how you figure out if drinking Budweiser is appropriate:

1) Are you outside? If you are inside, drink something else
2) Is it daylight? If it is after dark, drinking something else; preferably whiskey.
3) Count the number of rednecks in your immediate vicinity. If rednecks < 3, drink something else.

If you meet all these requirements, drink as much Bud as you want.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:17 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


4) If your paycheck hasn't come in yet, failover to Natty.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:18 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reportedly, one sample was found to contain 100% horse piss.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:21 AM on February 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


I find it kind of interesting the hate on American beers (some brands?), even though most are the result of German immigrants who came to America and began reproducing the drink they enjoyed at home. So I suppose the question is, were the German immigrants just not very good at the job? Did the access to ingredients change the beer they produced?

How did we go from beer made by Germans in Germany to beer made by Germans in America which resulted in such a difference?
posted by Atreides at 7:21 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Non-rhetorical question here: how difficult is it to take commercially-sold beer and test it? Like how many digits would the bill be? Or is it something that is rather tricky and could much more easily be done instead in-process?


The usual process is to extract the ethanol from a known volume of beer by distillation, the volume left can then be used to calculate alcohol by volume.

Smaller brewers here in the UK will often outsource that to a laboratory, I can't give you hard figures but it would be 3 digits I imagine.
posted by hardcode at 7:21 AM on February 27, 2013


I guess Bud drinkers are now a bit

(puts on sunglasses)

Sadder budweiser.

YEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:22 AM on February 27, 2013 [39 favorites]


I am always trying to lose weight, and sometimes I buy Michelob Ultra because it is low in calories. Of course, like other beers of its ilk, it is also low in alcohol. For both of these reasons, my husband refers to Ultra as Sad Girl Beer. We always have (at least) one other beer option in the fridge, but none of the tasty local brews are available in a lower cal version. Maybe I should just cut out food so I can drink real beer?

Anyway, I can taste the sadness.
posted by little mouth at 7:25 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Beer? Is that something I would need a mouth and alimentary canal to enjoy? Haw haw haw.
posted by dr_dank at 7:26 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


So I suppose the question is, were the German immigrants just not very good at the job? Did the access to ingredients change the beer they produced?

From Wikipedia:
Pale lager was introduced to both Canada and the United States in the 19th century by German immigrants. These German brewers developed their beers from the American six-row barley which has a higher tannic acid and protein content and had greater husk per weight than the continental European barleys (two-row barley). In addition, the Tettnanger and Saaz hops of Europe were not available. Therefore, the grain mixture was adjusted by adding up to 30% corn to the barley malt mash. However, the beer was brewed to full-fledged European strength and to the practices of a pale lager style. After Prohibition in the United States when beer production resumed, brewers used up to 50% corn or rice.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:26 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


We have some other system for measuring it now, but (from Wikipedia), the very word "proof" comes from the common desire to prove that your booze has not been watered down:

From the 18th century until 1 January 1980, the United Kingdom measured alcohol content in terms of "proof spirit", which was defined as spirit with a gravity of 12/13 that of water, or 923kg/m3, and equivalent to 57.15% ABV.[1] The term originated in the 18th century, when payments to British sailors included rations of rum. To ensure that the rum had not been watered down, it was "proved" by dousing gunpowder with it and then testing to see if the gunpowder would ignite. If it did not, then the rum contained too much water and was considered to be "under proof". Gunpowder would not burn in rum that contained less than approximately 57.15% ABV. Therefore, rum that contained this percentage of alcohol was defined to have "100° (one hundred degrees) proof".
posted by selfmedicating at 7:27 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


How did we go from beer made by Germans in Germany to beer made by Germans in America which resulted in such a difference?

Prohibition sort of wiped the slate clean. A lot of the regional breweries couldn't survive the Depression AND retrofitting their facilities to make other products, so they went away. Those companies that survived got to set the palate, especially those that were able to widen their distribution by taking advantage of freezer cars.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:29 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I actually drink Ballantine. Mainly for the intellectual stimulation of the bottlecap rebuses.
And the Borromean rings in the logo! (Topologist's favorite beer)
posted by crazy_yeti at 7:29 AM on February 27, 2013


Regardless of the watered down taste or not, it's good that a company could potentially be held accountable for selling a lie, but I wouldn't be surprised if nothing comes of it. It has to be proven first and then that proof has to result in some sort of damages but even if the former is true, the latter is not guaranteed.

I don't drink those sorts of beer, I only drink (insert microbrew here).

I drink mass produced and microbrew but I have to say the Micro Brewery just up the street from me has beer that is buckets better in flavour and texture than most mass produced beer.
posted by juiceCake at 7:29 AM on February 27, 2013


Metafilter: Hating everything since 1999. Except bicycles. Bicycles are perfect. Except fixies. Fixies are for hipsters.
posted by etc. at 7:34 AM on February 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


If you meet all these requirements, drink as much Bud as you want.

Even given all of those, I would still go with Miller, which tastes slightly less terrible in my opinion. The only time I willingly drink Budweiser is when they have an exclusive contract to sell liquor at some kind of festival/sporting event/whatever and I do not have the foresight to smuggle in a flask of hard alcohol. One positive thing I will say about Budweiser is that at least it's not Foster's.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:34 AM on February 27, 2013


Agreed on all counts. There is a time and place to drink mass-produced. (For me, it's usually when I'm back home in Atlanta at a show and frankly, if I'm watching a friend's band, I'm not there to appreciate what I'm drinking. I'm there to have a good time for the cheapest amount and quantity.)

The rest of the time I take advantage of the many amazing microbrasseries in my town and a dep that sells an incredible array of microbrews from all over the province. (I LOVE making my own six-packs!)
posted by Kitteh at 7:34 AM on February 27, 2013


For reference, here is how you figure out if drinking Budweiser is appropriate:

I believe that the last time I had Budweiser was at a badminton tournament commemorating the anniversary of Tim Russert's death, and at some point a guy from Arkansas saw me drinking a Bud and we had a conversation about how great it was that they had the American flag cans.

I'm going to go ahead and check the box marked "appropriate".
posted by Copronymus at 7:35 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


How did we go from beer made by Germans in Germany to beer made by Germans in America which resulted in such a difference?

Two factors.

1) American barley, aka six-row barley, has a *lot* of enzyme power, that is, the ability to convert starches into sugar. It also has more protein and less starch, which makes brewing German style lagers harder, which are supposed to be very clean in profile, and had more tannins and captans, which meant, that when brewed straight, there were a lot of flavors that were unwanted in the style left in the beer.

Because of this, US brewers would add adjuncts that add starch but not enzymes. In Budweiser's case, this is rice. The extra enzymes in six-row barley would fully break down these adjuncts, which increase the amount of fermentable sugar without bringing in as much of the problematic aspects of six-row, the tannins and whatnot. This gave them a beer much closer to the ideal.

2) Hops. They didn't have Tettanger and Salz hops, and the US hops then available were based on UK strains.* So, they had to use just a bittering hop, so they brewed a bit sweeter to counter that.

3) Prohibition. Then they all had to stop brewing. Time passes.

4) Repeal. Those that somehow survived started brewing again, but many Americans had gotten out of the habit of beer. So, to increase sales, they went after another market as well -- women. And the beers were dialed back, because it was perceived that a lighter beer would be more popular with women.

And thus was born the American Pale Lager. The American Light Lager came much later.


* The big three American hops -- Centennial, Cascade and Citra -- didn't exist yet, and would be useless in a german lager.
posted by eriko at 7:35 AM on February 27, 2013 [18 favorites]


Atreides: "German immigrants who came to America and began reproducing the drink they enjoyed at home."

Or in the case of Budweiser, reproducing the Czech beer to suck up to the Czech population in the neighborhood.
posted by notsnot at 7:35 AM on February 27, 2013


I don't drink those sorts of beer, I only drink Coors.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:38 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


So yeah. The implication is that this would cost essentially nothing to test. At worst a couple of grand, when you add in multiple sets of testing and an independent lab with an audit chain. So why hasn't this been done? This lawsuit seems shady.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:38 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quite apart from anything else, wouldn't this be a revenue offence?
posted by Segundus at 7:38 AM on February 27, 2013


I got a case and a half of Bell's Hopslam in my beer fridge downstairs. I figure I'm well insulated from this crisis. Carry on.
posted by Ber at 7:41 AM on February 27, 2013


American barley, aka six-row barley...had more tannins and captans, which meant...there were a lot of flavors that were unwanted in the style left in the beer.

Why couldn't they grow two-row barley? Does it not grow well in the US?
posted by goethean at 7:41 AM on February 27, 2013


...so that the alcohol is well below the advertised figure of 5% by volume

I loathe Bud to no end, but...When/where has AB ever advertised the alcohol level of Bud? There's no statement on the can, that I can recall. Do brewers have to make an alcohol statement to the state or feds?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:44 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why couldn't they grow two-row barley? Does it not grow well in the US?

There's a lot of detail here. My vague recollection is that some of it has to do with latitude and the length of the day.
posted by Slothrup at 7:46 AM on February 27, 2013


Six-row barleys, if produced overseas at all, are largely used only for feed. link

Ah, well...that explains it! We should be feeding Bud to animals!
posted by goethean at 7:48 AM on February 27, 2013


Say goodbye to Goose Island if you're a fan.

I am a fan, and I do think the quality of 312 has declined some. But I mourn not 312, I've moved on. I'm fortunate to live in Chicago, so I can head to the Goose Island Brew Pub just a few blocks away and get something brewed on the premises, away from any meddling InBev executives. I've also got Revolution Brewing and Half Acre, or I can go to the store and pick up some 3 Floyds, or even take the hour and a half to drive there. Or I could drive up to the Wisconsin border to smuggle back some New Glarus. I guess what I'm saying is no matter what InBev does to 312, I'll be fine in terms of access to great beer.
posted by borkencode at 7:48 AM on February 27, 2013


...that explains it! We should be feeding Bud to animals!

What did the animals ever do to you?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:49 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why couldn't they grow two-row barley? Does it not grow well in the US?

At the time, not in the north -- remember, you didn't ship things very far in the early 1800s. You can in the south, but there weren't many places with brewing Germans in the south. A big exception was in Texas, see Shiner Bock. Bock, however, is a different beer than the Helles and Pils style lagers that they were creating in the North.

If you want to taste what the pre-prohibition American lagers tasted like, there are two good examples around -- Yuengling Lager and Schell's Original. Shiner Bock is a pretty fine bockbeir as well. I really like Yuengling, myself.
posted by eriko at 7:50 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here's a picture of a Budweiser can. Above the "B" in the big "Budweiser", it says "5% ALC.".
posted by Flunkie at 7:50 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Slightly off-topic, one of my best friends used to manage a bar and--obviously--was in charge of ordering the kegs for the week. He would continually try to order better beers in addition to the staples, but InBev made it very hard for him to do so. It was constantly "we'd be happy to sell you a keg of Bell's Two-Hearted but we're gonna need a minimum order of this many of Bud Light to do so." Even though he knew it wouldn't be hard to move the Bud, he was trying to steer the bar's beer menu to more delicious and adventurous things. Maybe this is typical of InBev to use those tactics, but it always seemed shitty and shady to me.
posted by Kitteh at 7:52 AM on February 27, 2013


Non-rhetorical question here: how difficult is it to take commercially-sold beer and test it? Like how many digits would the bill be? Or is it something that is rather tricky and could much more easily be done instead in-process?

The beer in question has already been drank. So you can't measure it. Measuring current beer levels is not relevant. The testimony of the employees, however, is presumably relevant, as documents from the brewrey showing the process at the time the beer the Plaintiffs drank.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:53 AM on February 27, 2013


This is surprising to anyone that's had Bud?


I've been using Bud to kill slugs in my garden for years. Now I know why it stopped working.
posted by ocschwar at 7:53 AM on February 27, 2013


I've also got Revolution Brewing and Half Acre, or I can go to the store and pick up some 3 Floyds

Where are they selling 3 Floyds in Chicago? Need to know please.
posted by Max Power at 7:54 AM on February 27, 2013


I am a beer geek, I've tried hundreds and hundreds of craft beers and beers of practically all the well known styles. I am not, however, a beer snob. Sometimes a nice can of Lager is just what I need. I used to enjoy an occasional Budweiser too. The most recent time I tried it I did not enjoy it at all. I decided it was because they changed the can and with Budweiser any appreciation was just based on all the advertising smoke and mirrors and that went poof when they lost the traditional look.

When I consider that I had that same experience with Rolling Rock when it was sold to Anheuser-Busch and the brewing operations moved and with Becks when they went to US production I'm starting to think it might be possible they did indeed mess around with the recipes, or at the very least didn't reproduce everything right when they moved. I find this lawsuit a bit plausible, will watch and see. It could just be my tastes changing, I do get bored of stuff, but I've never lost my love of Yuengling.

Or in the case of Budweiser, reproducing the Czech beer to suck up to the Czech population in the neighborhood.

In Praise of Budweiser (contains extended footnotes)

Budweiser has been around for at least as long as your “traditional” British ales, most of which also date back to the Victorian period. The Anheuser-Busch company began selling it in 1876. This was a full 20 years before the Budvar brewery in Ceske Budejowice was even built, a subject I will come back to. The recipe has not changed since then, apart from a period during Prohibition when the alcohol content was reduced to 0.5% in order to comply with the law. It is an authentic, traditional product just like the ones CAMRA promotes.

Anyway, the best fun in beer drinking is trying new things. If your old products aren't doing it for you anymore, try some new stuff! I'm trying Bud Light & Clamato later, in violation of my vegetarianism that extends even to clam juice, because I just can't resist the finding out what it tastes like.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:54 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


...so that the alcohol is well below the advertised figure of 5% by volume

I loathe Bud to no end, but...When/where has AB ever advertised the alcohol level of Bud? There's no statement on the can, that I can recall. Do brewers have to make an alcohol statement to the state or feds?


Its on the front of every bottle in small print.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:56 AM on February 27, 2013


Slightly off-topic, one of my best friends used to manage a bar and--obviously--was in charge of ordering the kegs for the week. He would continually try to order better beers in addition to the staples, but InBev made it very hard for him to do so.

It's one of many ongoing issues for beer bars.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:00 AM on February 27, 2013


I don't drink those sorts of beer, I only drink Coors.

Preferably smuggled from out west by Jerry Reed, with a little help from Burt Reynolds.
posted by TedW at 8:04 AM on February 27, 2013


Drinky Die: "a full 20 years before the Budvar brewery in Ceske Budejowice was even built,"

I'm not trying to get into a pissing (or piss-drinking) match about the propriety of the name. Adolphus Busch picked the name Budweiser to suck up to the Czechs in the neighborhood (he mush have had *some* reason, yes?). There's a Czech church--St. John Nepomuk-- about a mile north of the Budweiser plant. (I know about this because I have the miterbox--a 4x4 with angled grooves-- which was used by my great-grandfather to build all the window frames.)
posted by notsnot at 8:05 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


burnmp3s: "Even given all of those, I would still go with Miller, which tastes slightly less terrible in my opinion."

Agreed. If in a situation where a mass-produced American lager is called for, I go for an Miller Genuine Draft. Bud has a weird off taste, and always seems to give me a headache. MGD is no great shakes, but is drinkable.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:10 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where are they selling 3 Floyds in Chicago? Need to know please.

Oh now that I'm the spot, I can't remember where I've seen it, maybe that Binny's over by Goose Island? I swear I've seen it, but I don't think I've had to pick some up since I usually get a case of something (Usually Robert the Bruce) on Dark Lord Day and that lasts me a while.

Looks like I wasn't wrong Binny's has some 22oz bottles in stock in some locations. I swear I've seen six packs of Zombie Dust or Gumballhead around somewhere too.
posted by borkencode at 8:11 AM on February 27, 2013


This is odd. It's like being a customer at McDonald's and suing them because their burgers don't taste like the grass-fed alternative. There are sooooo many different beers to choose from. If AB is watering theirs down, then try others until you find one you like.

Or even better, learn to homebrew. It's wicked easy and fun.
posted by terrapin at 8:15 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is odd. It's like being a customer at McDonald's and suing them because their burgers don't taste like the grass-fed alternative. There are sooooo many different beers to choose from. If AB is watering theirs down, then try others until you find one you like.

No, it's like going to McDonalds being sold a burger that said 100% beef on the wrapper and finding out that it was part filler, which would be a totally reasonable lawsuit. The issue isn't "quality" it's lying about the alcohol content.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:18 AM on February 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


No, it's like going to McDonalds being sold a burger that said 100% beef on the wrapper and finding out that it was part filler, which would be a totally reasonable lawsuit. The issue isn't "quality" it's lying about the alcohol content.

It reminds me of the Taco Bell thing with the beef content, and it may end up the same way, with the accusations being false but still putting a PR black eye on the company because it plays into what people already think.

The plaintiff, Amanda Obney, contended the beef taco filling contained less than 50 percent beef and that Taco Bell's own suppliers euphemistically called it "taco meat filling."

But Taco Bell countered that the filling is actually 88 percent beef and 12 percent "signature recipe."

"We gave them the facts, which we could have given them three months ago before this was filed, and when they saw the facts they withdrew the lawsuit," Creed said in the interview. "It's that simple."

-

I'm not trying to get into a pissing (or piss-drinking) match about the propriety of the name.


Yeah I misinterpreted that, sorry. Still a great article for folks curious about the naming dispute.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:22 AM on February 27, 2013


Everybody seems to love Revolution, but the Eugene Porter is the darkest thing they brew reliably and it's just not that heavy (I heart stouts). Same trouble with Half Acre, honestly, although the Over Ale is not bad.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:23 AM on February 27, 2013


Heineken is now more small-brew than Stella or Hoegaarden.
posted by plexi at 8:27 AM on February 27, 2013


Once upon a time, I had a very interesting project which looked at the microbrew beer market for a Large Beer Company Which You Might Know.

The first separation that needs to be made is in product manufacture and marketing and sales techniques. The beer market in the United States is controlled by a small numbers of players – it's really an oligopoly. That's sales and marketing, and it's not the fault of the beer companies. Alcohol is such a regulated trade that if one has a problem with it, the place to look is at legislation.

If the majors are capable of exploiting market dynamics in a way that reduces the number of players, it is because the law allows them to do that. In fact, it is probably because alcohol is such a regulated market that it tends toward oligopoly. When one looks at large oligopolies, they're found in places of natural monopoly. Power. Water. Petrol/gasoline. Natural gas. Beer. It's natural, for regulatory compliance is a barrier to entry and provides natural advantage to large players.

So if one wants to complain about the selections of beer available at a bar, the real culprit there is regulation. There well may be anti-competitive practices involved, but they are legal based on the law.

Granted there is also the converse side of the argument, which is that part of the reason beer is so available is that the scale of the majors provides the good at a very efficient cost. Microbrews are typically more expensive, thus it's easy to see the advantage of scale. From my recollection, it tends to be about $1 a glass on draft, and a bit more or less in bottles, depending on the comparable.

Since most people drink beer for its effects – rather than its taste – it makes sense that consumers gravitate to the lowest-priced good available that produces the desired result.

So in my view that is why there's so much Budweiser on tap. Not because Bud Hates Beer, but because price-conscious consumers choose Bud.

Now, onto the product manufacture aspect of the situation. Apparently, Budweiser is a near-miracle of beer. It it produced in different places, with different water, different humidity levels, different hops at times, and yet the result is consistently Budweiser. Anyone who has brewed beer will know how difficult replication can be – considering that beer is a highly organic process and there are many factors at play. The fact that Budweiser can be brewed to such a consistent standard around the world (and it does indeed taste the same in China as it does in the US and UK) is a real testament to the people running the manufacturing process.

Further, when Budweiser is brewed, apparently it's almost double the strength (this is word of mouth from a Beer Guy) and then cut with water to reduce the strength. Thus, when it's made, it's quite a lovely pilsner that is then watered down to what the consumer experiences.

Now if that is true, is that inherently bad? I don't think so. If Budweiser reduces the strength of Budweiser beer because (drum roll) that's what consumers drink.

We're seeing a Big Trend in the United Kingdom toward lower alcohol beers. Sam Smith pubs abruptly stopped stocking the amazing Alpine Lager about 18 months ago. It was one of their best-selling products in Central London apparently. Now, it has re-emerged as a low-alcohol (2.5%) beer. This made sense to quite a few people I spoke with about it at the pub. Because it's priced accordingly. It's tough economic times, and people would rather spend less and drink longer. They could easily go buy a 7% beer down the street – for nearly double the price – and ingest more alcohol, but that's not what they want. They want to sit at the pub and relax with their mates.

Also, people are becoming increasingly health conscious about alcohol in the UK. Thus, Sam Smiths responded by taking one of their most popular products and producing a tempered, low-cost version of it. I personally don't have a taste for it anymore, so I'm on to Pure Brewed Lager now, but lots of people seem to like the new low-alcohol Alpine Lager. Everyone seems happy.

The point being that I doubt AB is watering down Budweiser. It just doesn't make sense. They operate in a highly-regulated field where this kind of behaviour is really punished. They have a great market and make a strong profit already, so what would the incentive to cheat be? It just doesn't make sense. Especially at a time when the craft brew market is cranking out stronger beers. If anything, one would think AB would add less water, not more to compete with the emergence of triple IPAs and the like.

There's further precedent for this with Sierra Nevada. I don't know who might remember, but a few years back Sierra Nevada reduced the alcohol content in the "Pale Ale" brew and introduced the "IPA" label simultaneously. The "IPA" (dark green) was the old formula from the "Pale Ale", and the "Pale Ale" was a more accessible beer. This apparently was driven by female consumers, who are more sensitive to alcohol volumes than male consumers. Coors – which owns Sierra – saw the opportunity to grow the marketshare of Sierra, whilst continuing to offer a product held in decent regard by general market consumers. (There's going to be a guy who says Sierra sucks. Dude, I know. You're the one sitting there with a bottle of Moose Drool or Stone IPA. Sierra is not for you man.)

Overall, when you look at the dynamics of the beer marketplace, it just doesn't make sense at all. I agree this is a frivolous lawsuit by some angry former employees, because it just doesn't make sense.

For a comparison, McDonalds is a similar supply-chain triumph. McDonalds produces a tremendously consistent product and level of service around the world, with different supplies, different staff, different laws, different cultures. Regardless of whether or not one likes the product in question – or would choose to consume it – is a very different matter. Budweiser and McDonalds both produce a product of exceptionally consistent quality for price-conscious consumes. It just doesn't make sense that they would skirt the rules and risk Massive Problems, when they are doing absolutely fine serving their markets.
posted by nickrussell at 8:28 AM on February 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Further, when Budweiser is brewed, apparently it's almost double the strength (this is word of mouth from a Beer Guy) and then cut with water to reduce the strength. Thus, when it's made, it's quite a lovely pilsner that is then watered down to what the consumer experiences.

I don't think it makes sense they would brew it that much higher when they have perfectly good yeast strains to hit the lower target, but yeah regardless of how they get there the alcohol content is lower because the style is supposed to be light and refreshing.

10% Bud sounds kind of awful to me though, like worse than malt liquor or Bud Ice bad, and I love a good imperial pilsner.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:40 AM on February 27, 2013


The Acolyzer seems to be a good gizmo for giving accurate reads of alcohol content, as well as other parameters.
posted by No Robots at 8:42 AM on February 27, 2013


Coors – which owns Sierra – saw the opportunity to grow the marketshare of Sierra

Uhhhhhh.... No?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:43 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Haven't read the whole thread, but when I worked at Labatt's (early 90's) my friend in QC told me they only targeted a range for alcohol levels. They would perform a general test (I'm guessing gravitometry) on the batch to confirm that it was in the general range (gravitometer most likely) and send it out to stores. They would then follow up with more expensive and lengthy tests to get the exact value. My friend would then write down the serial numbers of the highest ABV batches and look for them in stores.
posted by Hutch at 8:43 AM on February 27, 2013


There's further precedent for this with Sierra Nevada. I don't know who might remember, but a few years back Sierra Nevada reduced the alcohol content in the "Pale Ale" brew and introduced the "IPA" label simultaneously. The "IPA" (dark green) was the old formula from the "Pale Ale", and the "Pale Ale" was a more accessible beer.

An Ask Metafilter response suggests Pale Ale alcohol content has not changed.

The only difference between the original Pale Ale and today's Pale Ale is that now we make more if it...
posted by Drinky Die at 8:43 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


And all this time I thought they were diluting it with piss.
posted by dgran at 8:45 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


How did we go from beer made by Germans in Germany to beer made by Germans in America which resulted in such a difference?

That's an interesting question, sort of a Jared Diamond natural experiment. However in truth America does have a diverse and healthy beer culture, American beer is not limited to just a few brands. Granted microbrews are local, but so is a lot of beer in Germany. So the question is why did those particular national brands go so wrong? I think the answer is lack of competition within that segment of the beer market (big national brands). I don't know enough about it, but it's possible that distribution is the key factor. Due to the size and geography of the USA it favors large distributors who favor large producers who favor large monopolistic companies, which reduces competition and thus results in lower quality beer.
posted by stbalbach at 8:49 AM on February 27, 2013


compartment: the actual complaints for the 9th Circuit case (Ex A, Ex B, Ex C to the Complaint) and the NJ 3rd Circuit Case on Scribd.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:53 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is constant pressure on brewers to market to the lowest common denominator. Even a homebrewer has to contend with people who want free beer to be less hoppy, less malty, less alcoholic and less fattening.
posted by No Robots at 8:54 AM on February 27, 2013


Coors – which owns Sierra

Yeah, between this and the thread linked to by Drinky Die, I'm thinking you've confused Sierra with something else?
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:54 AM on February 27, 2013


Making Budweiser more like water can only be an improvement.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:55 AM on February 27, 2013


I don't care what people want to drink. I'm just glad to hear it whenever someone tries to fuck with AB InBev.
posted by orme at 8:56 AM on February 27, 2013


Thanks, crush-onastick. Always interesting to see the primary source. I didn't see anything in there about the actual alcohol content of the beer or any statements from workers at the brewery. There was a little bit about the precision instrumentation used at the brewery to measure alcohol content, but I didn't see anything to substantiate the claim of lower-than-advertised alcohol content.
posted by compartment at 9:16 AM on February 27, 2013


nickrussell: "There's further precedent for this with Sierra Nevada. I don't know who might remember, but a few years back Sierra Nevada reduced the alcohol content in the "Pale Ale" brew and introduced the "IPA" label simultaneously. The "IPA" (dark green) was the old formula from the "Pale Ale", and the "Pale Ale" was a more accessible beer. This apparently was driven by female consumers, who are more sensitive to alcohol volumes than male consumers. Coors – which owns Sierra – saw the opportunity to grow the marketshare of Sierra, whilst continuing to offer a product held in decent regard by general market consumers. (There's going to be a guy who says Sierra sucks. Dude, I know. You're the one sitting there with a bottle of Moose Drool or Stone IPA. Sierra is not for you man.)"

You literally have no idea what you are talking about here. The IPA is the old formula for Pale??? Sierra is owned by Coors??? Stone drinkers (one of the best IPAs around btw) don't drink Sierra???

Your comment is at least blasphemy and probably slanderous and should be deleted.

/Chico State grad
posted by Big_B at 9:24 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


nickrussell: "Once upon a time, I had a very interesting project which looked at the microbrew beer market for a Large Beer Company Which You Might Know."

And let me guess: You were involved in the Sierra Pale clone (don't remember the name, some dumb clearly committee chosen name) that was introduced to Chico itself in the late 90s as a test case? And tried to force local bars to dump Sierra??? IN CHICO! Lol. How'd that work out for you?
posted by Big_B at 9:27 AM on February 27, 2013


Haven't seen this mentioned yet anywhere, but the alcohol content on the label of any beer, spirit, wine, etc. is a maximum, not a minimum. That's because alcohol is taxed, and the brewers & distillers have to pay tax on every drop of alcohol that goes out their doors. So if a batch goes out with more alcohol than it's labeled for, you're selling illegal booze, and the ATF comes around to ask some very probing questions and perhaps lay on massive fines and/or shut your business down. If a batch goes out with less alcohol than is on the label...meh, regulatory agents don't care.

There's a tremendous incentive for any alcohol producer to not exceed the ABV level they've paid taxes on. Tellingly, the response of Anheuser-Busch is that they are in "full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws." They don't say they're not adding water, because of course they are. Every alcohol producer does. I expect Anheuser-Busch has the process control to maintain a very precise ABV, but I also expect they aim just a bit below what's on the label.

So in summary, is Bud watered down? Almost certainly. Do these people have a legal case? Nope, sorry. That ain't how alcohol regulation works.
posted by echo target at 9:30 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even a homebrewer has to contend with people who want free beer to be less hoppy, less malty, less alcoholic and less fattening.

Shut up and chew.
posted by goethean at 9:39 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The article from the Chigaco Tribune states that water was added to reduce the alcohol content by 3-8%. So, for a beer that is 5% ABV, and 8% reduction in alcohol would result in a 4.6% ABV beer. This isn't a lot of added water. My guess would be that if they are bottling a batch that is slightly over the stated % ABV, they add enough water to bring it down to the stated level, which makes sense.
posted by bajema at 9:47 AM on February 27, 2013


How did we go from beer made by Germans in Germany to beer made by Germans in America which resulted in such a difference?

No different than anything else in the world of food and drink. How did we get terrible chocolate, terrible coffee, terrible preserved meats, terrible pizza, terrible bread, terrible cheese, terrible Chinese food, and so on, where we have long known how to make much better versions? There are a whole lot of factors, mostly economic, some regulatory, some social, but the basic story is the more or less the same in every case.
posted by ssg at 9:58 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really, Nickrussell. I have two cases of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale chilling out on my back porch and for a minute there, I thought I was going to have to give you a Mefi beat down. But Big B, drinkydie and robocop is bleeding beat me to it. I'm a female, BTW. Sierra Nevada is not a watered down version of anything.
posted by Kokopuff at 10:04 AM on February 27, 2013


The distress for me was the loss of Bass Ale. Now ImBev brews it in the USA and now it tastes closer to Michelob than to an English pale ale.

Now I have no reliable beer to order at bars and restaurants that at least had one decent beer.

P.S.
The Bass Ale red triangle, by the way, is arguably the world's oldest trademark. And appears in Edouard Manet's 1882 "Bar at the Folies-Bergère"
posted by surplus at 10:04 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


That ain't how alcohol regulation works.

But it is how advertising and product-labeling regulation works, and if they're misrepresenting the product in order to mislead consumers, that seems like it could still be illegal, for different reasons than if they had failed to pay the proper tax on the alcohol in the can.

I think that's what's being alleged: that the product in the can is not what's being claimed on the label.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:05 AM on February 27, 2013


Budweiser (part of Anheuser-Busch) is a Belgian company.
but they may soon have it made in China and that might improve it.
posted by Postroad at 10:11 AM on February 27, 2013


> How did we go from ____ in [country of origin]
> to ________ in America
> which resulted in such a difference?

It's not just a _melting_ pot.
posted by hank at 10:16 AM on February 27, 2013


compartment: it's been 3+ years since I've had to write a consumer protection complaint in federal court, but this looks like I remember them.

Federal civil complaints are "notice pleadings", not "fact pleadings". That is, the purpose is to give the defendant sufficient notice of the bad thing you claim he did, not inform him of all the specific facts which make up your argument that he did a bad thing. You just have to make a short and plain statement of the claim which would entitle you to relief should you eventually prove the facts which support your claim. "Sufficient factual allegations which allow the court to find your claims plausible" are enough. The standard is a bit higher with fraud claims, but not much, and mostly concern particulars about the fraud itself, not about how it was accomplished. You don't really have to provide much more detail than that--in part because at this stage (before discovery), you really can't prove anything.

The 9th Circuit complaint basically says that Anheuser-Busch has the technological and business means to determine precisely the alcohol content of each can/bottle of beer it sell and that it intentionally misrepresents that alcohol content. The complaint further states that such misrepresentation violates certain consumer protection laws and that the plaintiffs relied upon the false representations of alcohol content in making their purchase decisions. It makes no mention of any alcohol sales or labeling regulation, relying wholly on consumer protection and trade practices laws. I have no idea how those intersect with alcohol regulations but I'm certain that will come up in pleadings down the line.

As will the specific factual allegations of how the watering down happens, when it happens, how it harms the people who buy the "malt beverages".

All the facts (i.e., we tested this bottle which was labeled 5%, but it was only 3.5% or this worker says that the practice was that any batch tested at 5% must have water added until it tests at 3.5%) don't have to be part of the pleadings until you get to motions to dismiss or motions for summary judgment or to trial.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:18 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


How did we go from beer made by Germans in Germany to beer made by Germans in America which resulted in such a difference?

Also the short answer to this is Prohibition. American Budweiser made in the 20s probably didn't taste much like Bud today, and was probably pretty close to a legitimate (Reinheitsgebot-compliant) German pale lager. The post-Repeal product was by most accounts quite different, and I believe also was when they started introducing adjuncts such as rice.

Whether the beer recipe changed in an honest response to differing consumer preferences post-Repeal (i.e. consumers' tastes had changed in response to bootleg brews or because they'd just forgotten what good beer tasted like), or more cunningly because they had experience making "cereal beer" during Prohibition and took the opportunity after Repeal to adulterate their product with cheap adjuncts and sell it to a public too desperate to care, seems to me to be open to debate.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:23 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to this document from the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (PDF, see page 8), there's an accepted tolerance of 0.3% above or below the ABV stated on the label. That's a range of 0.6%. Given that it's been claimed they're adding water to reduce the alcohol by 3-8%, assuming a base rate of 5%, that's a range of 0.4%, which is within the accepted range.
posted by echo target at 10:27 AM on February 27, 2013


In Soviet Russia, beer was relatively scarce due to a centralised planning of where breweries were. As a consequence, beer was typically watered down, then had vodka added to it to bring the alcohol levels back up. And then was adulterated so it would "foam" - in some cases shampoo was added to do this.

It is unlikely, but still possible, this was nicer than Budweiser.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:28 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


there's an accepted tolerance of 0.3% above or below the ABV stated on the label. That's a range of 0.6%. Given that it's been claimed they're adding water to reduce the alcohol by 3-8%, assuming a base rate of 5%, that's a range of 0.4%, which is within the accepted range.
Huh? "0.4% below" is not within the range of "0.3% above or below" just because the full size of the range is greater than 0.4%.
posted by Flunkie at 10:37 AM on February 27, 2013


Drinky Die: "Yeah I misinterpreted that, sorry. Still a great article for folks curious about the naming dispute."

No worries, man. If there's nothing else around I'll have a Budweiser (not bud light), and only as a last resort. But I'm inordinately proud of that miter box and its history, so I may have been a bit too defensive.
posted by notsnot at 10:40 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


From...

In Praise of Budweiser (contains extended footnotes)

"Budweiser does not taste like piss. Normal urine has a pH of 4.6 to 8.0. Budweiser, like most lagers, has a pH of around 4.0. Therefore, Budweiser is definitely more acidic than piss."

I think that, when you have to cite pH levels to explain why a beer does not taste like piss, you may technically win the argument, but you've lost the war.
posted by snottydick at 10:53 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am the man, the very fat man,
That waters the workers' beer
I am the man, the very fat man,
That waters the workers' beer
And what do I care if it makes them ill,
If it makes them terribly queer
I've a car, a yacht, and an aeroplane,
And I waters the workers' beer

Now when I waters the workers' beer,
I puts in strychnine
Some methylated spirits,
And a can of kerosine
Ah, but such a brew so terribly strong,
It would make them terribly queer
So I reaches my hand for the watering-can
And I waters the workers' beer

Now a drop of good beer is good for a man
When he's tired, thirsty and hot
And I sometimes have a drop myself,
From a very special pot
For a strong and healthy working class
Is the thing that I most fear
So I reaches my hand for the watering-can
And I waters the workers' beer

Now ladies fair, beyond compare,
Be you maiden or wife
Spare a thought for such a man
Who leads such a lonely life
For the water rates are frightfully high,
And the meths is terribly dear
And there ain't the profit there used to be
In watering the workers' beer
posted by tspae at 10:54 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Anheuser-Busch company began selling it in 1876. This was a full 20 years before the Budvar brewery in Ceske Budejowice was even built

That's a meaningless point. The Anheuser-Busch company began selling their Budweiser beer about 91 years after a different brewery, Budweiser Bürgerbräu, started making beer and about a year after they began exporting to the U.S. market. That was the beer that inspired Adolphus Busch, not Budejovicky Budvar.
posted by snottydick at 11:06 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


> How did we go from ____ in [country of origin]
> to ________ in America
> which resulted in such a difference?

It's not just a _melting_ pot.


And in the case of Budweiser, I guess that was a chamber pot.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:22 PM on February 27, 2013


It just doesn't make sense that they would skirt the rules and risk Massive Problems, when they are doing absolutely fine serving their markets.

Or somebody in accounting could run a spreadsheet and say "here's where we could pick up another few million without anyone noticing".
posted by telstar at 12:31 PM on February 27, 2013


From water in our German-style lager, to horse meat in our Sweedish-style meatballs, what's next - wood in our Italian-style Parmesan cheese or pork bung in our calimari?

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has moved to block AB and InBev's proposed merger/acquisition of Grupo Modelo.
posted by vonstadler at 12:45 PM on February 27, 2013


All of this also reminds me of the Maker's Mark debacle: "We're watering down our bourbon because demand is too high." Yeah I'm no MBA or marketing genius, but I could have told you that was not going to go well. Should have just done it and not told anybody ala Bud.
posted by Big_B at 1:38 PM on February 27, 2013


Also Bud tastes like bananas. No beer should taste like bananas.
posted by Big_B at 1:38 PM on February 27, 2013


Crush-onastick: Thanks! Today it feels like the world makes a little more sense than it did yesterday.
posted by compartment at 1:43 PM on February 27, 2013


Also Bud tastes like bananas. No beer should taste like bananas.

Hefeweizens should! And Bud always struck me as more sour appley.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:46 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, Banana Bread Beer. Even better mixed with a chocolate stout.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2013


In an amusing coincidence (OR NOT?!), following my question above (and thanks to all who offered a sincere answer), the Explainer on Slate decided to offer an answer to the same question as well! "Budweiser Lawsuit: Why are American Beers weaker?"
posted by Atreides at 6:56 AM on February 28, 2013


npr reports that it had samples tested. "Some of them were spot-on. Others deviated, plus or minus, within a hundredth of a percentage" If that means ±.01%ABV it's well within the federal labeling requirements of ±.3% mentioned above.

If you can achieve ±.01% and 4.7% beer can be labeled as 5% beer, it'd sure be tempting to shoot for 4.71% if you were a money-hungry corporation, though.
posted by jepler at 7:56 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


As if ABV was the critical measure of a beer.
posted by surplus at 8:18 AM on February 28, 2013


There are many, many people who treat beer as an alcohol delivery system with no other relevant characteristics.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:26 AM on February 28, 2013


people who treat beer as an alcohol delivery system

Yeah that would be ImBev's core market.
posted by surplus at 8:39 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


As if ABV was the critical measure of a beer.

It's a critical measure. Variations in alcohol content can have a large impact on taste and enjoyment of a beer.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:59 AM on February 28, 2013


Yes. Care to educate us on some of the other critical measurements? NONE of which can measure whether the brewer threw some alcohol into some ditch water and carbonated it.
posted by surplus at 11:34 AM on February 28, 2013


Homebrewers talk plenty of numbers. A few are:

OG and FG: Original and Final specific gravity. A higher FG seems to be correlated with maltier and sweeter beers (one source of FG is unfermented sugars); the ABV of a beer is proportional to the difference between the original and final gravities. For example a light american lager should have an OG from 1.028 to 1.040 and an FG of 0.998 to 1.008. An irish red ale should have an OG from 1.044 to 1.060 and a FG of 1.010 to 1.014. Water is 1.000.

SRM: A measure of the darkness of beer. Higher numbers are darker. A light american lager should have an SRM of 2 to 3, while An irish red ale should have an SRM of 9 to 18.

IBU: A measure of the bitterness (hoppiness) of beer. Higher numbers are more bitter. A light american lager should have 8 to 12 IBUs, while an irish red ale should have 14-25 IBUs.

Of course, hops contribute more than just bitterness. Two ways hops are measured are in percentage of alpha and beta acids. For instance, "noble" german hops might have 3.3-5.5% alpha acid and 3-4% beta acid, while cascade (a popular american hop) have more (4.5-7.0% and 4.8-7.0%).

Volumes: Beer is carbonated in "volumes". "1 volume is 1 liter of CO₂ at 1 atmosphere in 1 liter of fluid", or about 2 grams CO₂ per liter of beer. An american lager should be carbonated to 2.5-2.8 volumes, while a british ale should be carbonated to 1.5-2.2 volumes. (incidentally, this explains why a 5kg tank of CO₂ can carbonate so many drinks!)

So there are plenty of numbers involved in making beer! But it's sure not the numbers alone that make for a good beer.
posted by jepler at 12:03 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think most of us knew all that. At least, all of us homebrewers do.

My point is that there is no lawsuit that will force ImBev to stop ruining our beers, and no number that will prove they've ruined our favorites.
posted by surplus at 12:59 PM on February 28, 2013


Anyway, the best fun in beer drinking is trying new things. If your old products aren't doing it for you anymore, try some new stuff! I'm trying Bud Light & Clamato later, in violation of my vegetarianism that extends even to clam juice, because I just can't resist the finding out what it tastes like.

So the Bug Light Clamato is actually pretty good, if not for the vegetarianism I could see having a few of these over the summer.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:50 AM on March 3, 2013


Bud fights back.
posted by Wordshore at 2:51 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think that's embarassing, Wordshore. Bud is saying lots of their loyal drinkers can't tell the difference between an InBev beer vs. water.
posted by surplus at 7:34 AM on March 4, 2013


Also, they're saying Bud Light is "the best beer we know how to brew," which is frankly depressing even as someone who thinks all beer tastes like piss.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:50 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


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