A-B InBev Denies Packaging Similarities with Flying Dog Beers

inbev-quote

I’ve always felt a little spoiled covering the craft beer industry, as most of the people I speak with are down to earth and share their thoughts fairly freely, from brew masters, to CEO’s, to the media folks from the larger breweries.  After reaching out to a large corporate brewery for the first time, I’ve discovered just how true that is.

I’m writing a story for Today.com [UPDATE: you can now read the finished article here] about the similarities between the packaging of Flying Dog’s beers and those from A-B InBev’s Blue Dawg Brewing, who make a trio of fruity craft beer lookalikes called Rascal’s Wild Red, Wild Blue, and Shadow’s Wild Black.

Dog versus Dawg - too close for comfort? Click to enlarge

Dog versus Dawg – too close for comfort? Click to enlarge

There are several stories on the Internet detailing how consumers purchased a Blue Dawg beer thinking it was either a Flying Dog product or a craft beer from a small independent brewer.  After looking at the packaging of Blue Dawg beers, it’s easy to understand why some people are making this mistake, especially because nowhere on the product does it say it’s manufactured by A-B InBev.

To flesh the story out, I spoke with Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso, who was quite candid about the situation, and a couple of consumers who had bought the Blue Dawg beers in error and were upset about it, feeling they had been mislead into buying a beer from a big brewer.  I also reached out to A-B InBev to get their side of the story, sending them several questions that made it clear what my story was about and what feedback I’d received from other parties.

I spoke with a friendly and helpful guy from the A-B InBev media department who said he’d run my questions up the flagpole and get back to me with a response.  He mentioned that they might not answer the questions individually, but rather provide a statement.  That’s just what happened – here it is in its entirety: 

To suggest that there is any consumer confusion between Wild Blue Blueberry Lager and Flying Dog is a very great stretch of the imagination. Wild Blue is an award-winning blueberry lager that appeals to fans of premium fruit beer, and there is nothing in Flying Dog’s portfolio with a comparable taste profile.

As for the label design, comparing the whimsical blueberry-kicking dog on the Wild Blue label to any of the gothic canines found on Flying Dog is like comparing da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to a Picasso portrait – they may portray a similar subject but stylistically, there’s no confusing the difference.  

As the world’s largest brewer, we proudly brew and distribute a variety of brands, and each of our beers has its own identity and marketing strategy. If a consumer is surprised to learn that the beer they’re enjoying is brewed by Anheuser-Busch, it should be a happy discovery, because our brewing credentials and quality standards are second to none in the industry.

So there you go.

I’m posting this for a couple of reasons.  One is that I don’t have the space to quote the entire statement in my Today.com article, and linking to it here allows people to read the whole thing – It’s only fair to let A-B InBev say their piece.

The other reason is that their response is dripping with a kind of PR spin that I haven’t really experienced before when covering the craft beer industry, and I wanted to share it with you guys and girls.  I’ve spoken with some brewers who stay on message and give watered down responses, but this is my first encounter with the world of slightly tone deaf big-grin-and-a-firm-handshake blanket statements.

A-B InBev is a huge multinational corporation, one that many craft beer drinkers fear will infiltrate the craft beer marketplace and spoil the party with their big business tactics (muscling the little guys off the shelves, using low cost ingredients, putting profits above all else, etc.).  Unfortunately, a response like the one above does nothing to assuage those fears.

I was hoping more for an honest dialogue with the big boys, which goes to show what a sucker I am.

How do YOU think they handled this?

.

.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: Beer, News

Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

Join the Madness

Like beer? Like whiskey? Like goofing off? Follow Us!

80 Comments on “A-B InBev Denies Packaging Similarities with Flying Dog Beers”

  1. August 8, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    heh, never noticed that similarity before. Then again, I don’t like either breweries that much.

    • August 8, 2013 at 10:09 am #

      Yeah, if you’re not looking at them, you probably wouldn’t notice them. Where I shop, the Blue Dawg beers are crammed into the bottom shelf, so it’s hard to even know they exist. I think this is because my beer shop know who makes it and gets strong armed into carrying the stuff, but refuses to give it a pime spot on the shelves. I had to dust off the Wild Red bottles for this picture, but the Flying Dog ones were fresh and spotless on the shelf.

  2. Dan Hutchison
    August 8, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Typical ABInBev and Big C spin…they are already marketing average (or worse) beers from distinct countries as premium beers in other countries and pushing good (and great) local beers off the taps and shelves…Budweiser in Brazil and Western Europe, (Brahma (Brazilian Beer) in Western Europe, Coors Light (from the other Big Beer C), in Ireland, Heineken (everywhere). At least they haven’t messed with the taste of Leffe Blond yet…it’s still good on tap in western Europe and here in Brazil.

    • August 8, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      Let me throw Stella in there for good measure. The Budweiser of Belgium is considered a fancy beer over here. Silly.

  3. Brendan
    August 8, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Looks pretty typical to me. Start with the bitternness of a subtle diversionary attack, then a full-bodied outright lie that would compel you to repeat the contradictory evidence (even though A-B wouldn’t do this by mistake), and the smooth, sweet finish of a sales pitch.

    Some lawyers made Johnnie Walker Blue money by writing this for you.

    Thanks for posting it, though.

    • August 8, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      I was honestly hoping for something not typical – I was hoping to an intelligent defense based on facts. I was hoping they’d tell me about the origin of the Blue Dawg brand, when it hit the market and what inspired it. I was hoping they’d be engaging and maybe even a little witty. I was hoping for a glimmer of the humanity that ties the world of craft beer together like a broad red ribbon. But what I got was this. :(

  4. August 8, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    Honestly, I don’t understand how anyone could confuse the labels on these beers. Flying Dog’s imagery is rather distinct. Sure, they both use dogs/dawgs and there’s some splattering, but that’s where it ends. I’m more concerned with AB-INBEV not putting their own name on the label, but whatever.

    The PR statement doesn’t bother me. They’re right. The designs are different and Flying Dog doesn’t typically do any fruit beers that I’m aware of. Yes, they want people to stumble onto their product and discover that it’s something they actually like, but isn’t that what craft beer has been trying for years in attempting to pry beer drinkers from the big-3 rice-adjunct lager producers?

    My real question is whether or not these beers are actually “wild.” Wild beers are typically the product of open fermentation. I would be surprised if this is actually the case. Any word on what these beers taste like? If they’re actually sour, I wouldn’t mind giving them a try. If they’re just shitty fruit-flavored versions of AB-INBEV’s other products, then no thanks.

    • August 8, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      The beers are sickly sweet, comparable more to a wine cooler or Zima rather than a beer. There’s nothing “wild” about them, in the Belgian yeast sense.

      There were lots of stories on the web of people grabbing the beers either thinking they are a Flying Dog product or a beer from a craft brewer, only to feel cheated when Googled the stuff after tasting how awful it was (there’s no indication that it’s an A-B InBev beer on the label). I talked to two such people for the Today.com piece, so they exist.

      I also spoke with Jim Caruso, the CEO of Flying Dog. He said he’s currently getting about two complaints about this brand confusion via email every week, and he rightly ponders if that’s not the tip of the iceberg, as many consumers wouldn’t take the time to complain, especially to the people who didn’t make the beer.

      Anyway, it’s a real thing that’s happening out there, based on grabbing a beer and thinking it’s one thing, only to find out it’s something else. It’s not based on the style of beer, but on the style of packaging, which I made clear to them in my questions, but they led with the fruit beer answer, which wasn’t even asked.

      • August 8, 2013 at 10:34 am #

        Gross. I have a bigger problem with them calling the beers “wild” than anything else. That’s false advertising, IMHO. It’s like how people call themselves crazy because they make stupid choices. You’re not crazy, just stupid, idiot! Wild fruit beers should be sour. Lame.

        I don’t deny that confusion over the labels happens. I just don’t understand how anyone could be so unaware as to not be able to discern the difference. Those labels look nothing like Flying Dog labels. It’s like people suing McDonalds over hot coffee.

        • August 8, 2013 at 10:52 am #

          Well, the fact that some reps push to get them placed side-by-side in the craft beer aisle is telling. If they didn’t think the confusion would increase their chances of moving product and hitting their numbers, then why else would they do it?

  5. Bill
    August 8, 2013 at 10:00 am #

    It’s a typical PR statement from a large corporation. Be happy that they actually took the time to issue a response.

    Having tried both Wild Blue and Wild Red, all I can say is yuck. They are syrup-thick and sickeningly sweet; hardly the character one who enjoys premium fruit beers looks for in a beer.

    The packaging isn’t similar enough to cause confusion, IMO. My criticism is the lack of brand identity. I think all breweries and brewing conglomerates should have their parent brand appearing on the label in some form, even if to say “an XYZ company” in text somewhere.

    I don’t mind drinking a macro. I’ll give any beer a shot. I just prefer to know who made it.

    • August 8, 2013 at 10:27 am #

      I agree, Bill. Put your name on it so people know what they’re buying. When a beer geek takes a chance on a beer because it looks interesting, at least let him or her know that it’s from a macro brewer, so they can make a truly informed decision on whether or not they want to drop eight bucks on one of their beers. Would have purchased both if you knew who made them, or would you have reasoned they were probably more “yuck” than “yum”?

      • August 8, 2013 at 10:35 am #

        An educated beer geek should know better.

        • August 8, 2013 at 10:42 am #

          Yes, but with the growth the craft beer segment is enjoying, it’s clear that there are a lot of noobs, and they’re potentially getting hosed.
          To paraphrase Jim Caruso, “I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if even on person thought we brewed that beer.”

      • August 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

        I still would give it a shot, macro or no. I don’t judge a beer by how big the parent brewery is. I don’t know if the “Wild” beers are child craft offerings under AB/InBev or if they’re AB/inBev-proper. Either way, I tried ‘em. Some macros I don’t mind, but these are horrible. Right up there on the “dear God, WTF is this S**t” meter with Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale. I didn’t realize that was a Michelob product until after my first sip. Tasted like bad diluted cream soda, and left a tacky feeling in my mouth as if I was licking envelopes. What kills me regarding the “Wild” series is they are extremely “WTF” in color. The Wild Blue is unmistakably bluish-purple, and Wild Red is do-not-spill-this red. There’s obviously a lot of artificial/extract ingredients in those beers.

        • August 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

          I had to buy a sixer of the Wild Red for the photos, so I’ll be reviewing that beer here at some point (because I really need a good reason to try one, otherwise I probably would send them down the drain).

  6. Chris
    August 8, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    I was burnt by this bait-and-switch as well. I went into my local grocery store to pick up the nights beverage. They have the aisle split up 3/4 lawnmower (and other assorted swill) and 1/4 craft, and the Wild Blue was in the craft section. I picked up some for the night, and when I went to check it in on Untappd, I found out that it was an ABInBev product. Needless to say, I was quite angered.

    2 things here. 1) The consumer needs to read the label to see where said beer was brewed (St. Louis, Mo. is a DEAD giveaway) because big beer is trying to infiltrate the craft markets with craft wanna-be’s and are NOT going to advertise this is what they are doing. Playing on the consumer’s lack of knowledge is not cool. 2) There should be some firm division between craft beer and big beer that retailer’s are forced to adhere to. If it is brewed by big beer, then take it out of the craft section; don’t confuse the consumer. Yeah, I know… just a pipe dream.

    Ok, off my horse now….

    • August 8, 2013 at 10:31 am #

      Thing is, this beer says “Brewed by Blue Dawg Brewing, Baldwinsville, NY.” No mention of St. Louis. Baldwinsville is also where they now brew Goose Island 312, which needs a new area code, IMO!

  7. August 8, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    I feel like it’s a little bit misleading to not have the conglomerate mentioned on the package somehwere. As for the confusion between the two labels, I don’t really see where you’d be at the store looking for one but accidentally end up with the other. I CAN, however, see where you’d be looking to try a craft beer and end up with shitty AB products because they didn’t tell you that’s what you were buying. If I drank a beer and found out it was brewed by AB, I’d only be surprised if I was enjoying it.

    • August 8, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      The woman I spoke with who bought this stuff thinking it was Flying Dog had never seen that brand in person. She knew about it, and wanted to try it, and when she saw Rascal’s Wild Red, she thought her chance had arrived.

      The other thing is that I’ve heard a of a few examples of the A-B InBev reps pushing their accounts to put the Blue Dawg beers on the shelves next to the Flying Dog beers. Such a move certainly makes it easier to absent-mindedly grab the wrong brand.

      Anyway, I agree – the bigger issue is truth in labeling. It shuld be clear who is brewing your beer so you can make an informed decision of who gets your dollars.

      • August 8, 2013 at 11:38 am #

        I really don’t think there was intent to look like the other brand, so much as intent to look like an craft brewery. Putting the beers next to each other on the shelf? That’s pretty sneaky but not too surprising.

        The labeling thing really bothers me though. I’m a stickler for that with my drink and food.

        This was super interesting stuff. Thanks for posting!

        • August 8, 2013 at 11:45 am #

          Hey, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

  8. August 8, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    You’re not really surprised, are you? They’re following the corporate script they’ve stuck to ever since they began the “crafty” beer campaign. Their assertion regarding quality standards second to none is, frankly, laughable, though they didn’t say “high quality” so perhaps its still accurate – and laughable.

    I’d love to see some sort of Truth in Brewing disclosures to better educate (warn) would-be buyers before they mistakenly put a corporate manufactured beer in their cart but I doubt that day will ever come.

    And when it comes to beers such as Wild Blue, Batch 19, Third Shift, or whatever… I assume they’re big beer in drag unless proven otherwise and have yet be snookered. I think.

    Cheers!

    • August 8, 2013 at 10:28 am #

      I’m the same way – very wary. When I see a well-branded craft beer that I’ve never heard of before, I get suspicious, especially when it’s on an end cap or palate display.

    • Matt
      August 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

      One thing to note: It is extremely difficult to get millions and millions of bottles of beer to taste exactly the same. To that end, they are right. Quality control is remarkable. Of course, quality in this instance doesn’t mean it’s actually any good, just that it’s the exact same bad from bottle-to-bottle.

      • August 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

        There’s a reason Stone hired a former AB-INBEV brewer to run their expanded brewery. They wanted some quality control, only for a much better product.

        • August 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

          I’m down with the fact that they have the process down to a science – it’s mostly the ingredients they choose and the amounts they use that’s the problem.

  9. August 8, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    An old Cher song comes immediately to mind “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”. This is so typical of the kleptocratic bent of mind in both BigBiz & government nowadays.

    Our best defense is to stay informed and let our beer supplier know how we feel if he allows Bigbeer to “muscle” true craft off his shelves A few letters or e-mails telling a liquor store owner that you will no longer be buying from his establishment because (fill in the blanks) can have a lot of influence.

    As for InBev itself: Let it be known that though I have in the past defended your right to break into the craft business with a quality product, I will no longer do so. Given your marketing practices, as outlined in this post, I withdraw any support I might have offered. Be assured that in future none of your beer, no matter how good it might be, will ever cross my lips.

    • August 8, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      The problem is about 90 percent of that stores beer sales are coming from the big boys, and a couple of consumers complaining about an interloper in the craft beer aisle probably won’t get much traction with them. The mega-brewers still have the muscle, at least for now.

      • August 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

        Jim, Jim, we are legion!

        The growth of craft over the past 5 years has scared the hell out of BB.

        We can do this–I have already done so with some of my suppliers.

        We just have to tell ‘em what we’re gonna tell ‘em; tell ‘em; and then tell ‘em what we just told ‘em. There are plenty of small guys willing to order anything we might desire just to get our business (and the bigger purveyors are well aware of that.) If we don’t come into their establishments for beer, what’s the chance we’re gonna come in for that expensive bottle of brandy or whiskey? Huh?

        • August 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

          I think my attitude shows why I’d never Occupy Wall Street. :(

  10. David
    August 8, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    My first thought, like someone else had mentioned, was “hey, at least they replied.” But frankly, that statement reeks of snootiness and narcissism.

    Here’s how I read it: Our cute little dog should not be confused with their scary dog. Besides, if someone realizes that they had mistakenly drank our beer, they should be doing a happy dance.

    • August 8, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      I’m guessing they replied because I had the words “Today Show” in the subject of my email. I’m glad they replied because I’d hate to write such a piece and not give them the chance to share their point of view, but I wish they would’ve actually engaged in answering the questions I sent rather than sending along such a slippery statement.

  11. August 8, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    How else would they handle it? It’s a blatant take on the Flying Dog brand. They can’t have an honest conversation about a dishonest branding tactic—at least not without quickly incriminating themselves. Hence the P.R. whitewash.

    I don’t drink much Flying Dog. I most often pass by it on the shelves. But I’m in the advertising industry—branding in particular. And I’ve seen these two packages in close proximity to one another on the shelves. Even I initially thought Flying Dog had come out with some fruit beers. Even I was sucked into the brand bait and switch momentarily. I totally see how a consumer would be easily snowed.

    Not cool A-B InBev. Not cool at all.

    • August 8, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      Yeah, as someone with a similar background, I see enough similarities to feel it didn’t happen on accident, especially as both use a dog motif. There are lots of “fun” animals you can use for branding, and the look of the packaging AND the choice of mascots is telling.

  12. Kid Carboy Jr.
    August 8, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    I have to agree with those people who have said there’s not really that big a similarity in artistic styles here. I’ve seen both labels for years and never even considered it. We live in an age where consumers have to pay attention to what they’re buying. If you buy something and it’s not what you thought it was, it’s most likely your own fault. It’s not expecting too much to ask someone to read a beer label.

    • August 8, 2013 at 11:19 am #

      I agree with that, but what if they label doesn’t mention who actually makes the beer?

      • Kid Carboy Jr.
        August 8, 2013 at 11:27 am #

        That of course is total BS and should be punishable by death. I only meant that it’s a consumer’s responsibility to read “Blue Dawg” and realize that does not mean “Flying Dog.”

        There’s no way you can expect that same consumer to know that “Blue Dawg” actually means Anheuser. That’s the unacceptable thing.

        • August 8, 2013 at 11:29 am #

          Yeah, it’s B.S> in my book. My guess is the people getting the two brands confused are craft beer noobs, but there’s a lot of those folks flooding into the marketplace, and it seems to be a real phenomenon. I’d hate Flying Dog to suffer for A-B InBev syrupy sweet products.

  13. August 8, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    I feel sorry for Flying Dog. ABInBev owes them a major apology; ABInBevmakes a crappy beer and then people accuse Flying Dog of making an inferior product. I could have mistaken Wild Red for Raging Bitch, especially if I was in a hurry, would not have noticed the stylistic differences in the packages (sorry Steadman, I missed it). And, I loathe fruit beers.

    ABInBev should own up to their deed; admit that they want to be seen as bitchin and stuff and that they will change the package design.

    • August 8, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      When I asked Jim Caruso if he considered legal action, he laughed and said they’d be crushed by A-B InBev’s bottomless war chest for legal fees. It’s the truth, but it stinks.

  14. Matt
    August 8, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    I was pretty disappointed with Magic Hat (or it’s parent corporation) going after West Sixth for stylistic/label issues. I feel an inclination here to see it the same way: There’s a clear enough distinction in artwork. You’d have to not be paying attention to really get them confused.

    What’s most disorienting to me is the PR response. My complements to you, Jim, for an exceptionally well-written description of that affect. The only thing that really keeps me from being depressed about the tone of their response it thinking (hoping?) that there is some smart-ass writer they’ve hired telling his buddies: “Check out my response! Those pretentious craft-brew dicks are gonna be so pissed about this.”

    • August 8, 2013 at 11:53 am #

      I think this has more merit than the Magic Hat nonsense, but it is a pretty subjective matter.

      Mostly, I keep waiting for A-B InBev or one of the other big brewers to approach the craft beer marketplace in an honest and open manner, but that certainly didn’t happen here. I think MillerCoors’ Tenth and Blake is the best hope of that happening, but even then…

      • Matt
        August 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

        In a sense, I agree. That is, I am willing to see a huge corpoation like A-B InBev as pulling something like this with the attitude of, “What are they gonna do about it?” Even more, this product line has a clear “we’re gonna make a buck on those craft beer rubes” to it.

        • August 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

          It all feels kinda shady, that’s for sure.

      • August 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

        While I don’t condone MillerCoor’s practices and beers as a whole, I have to give them respect for the Tenth and Blake division. They are at least trying to be transparent, and enter the market as somewhat equals, rather than use bully boy tactics. They’ve collaborated with a few Colorado breweries and were above board throughout the process making it clear who they are.

        • August 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

          I’m hoping they make it work, because the alternative is the big boys coming in like a bunch of bulls in a china shop.

      • Matt
        August 14, 2013 at 10:57 am #

        Here’s a turn in the story that shows some unmitigated gall: http://beerpulse.com/2013/08/a-b-inbev-files-complaint-over-millercoors-marketing-claims-like-2-stage-cold-activation-1120/.

        Maybe the Flying Dog folks should team up with MillerCoors, LLC to stick a thumb in A-B InBev’s eye….

  15. August 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Christ, what an asshole.

    • August 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

      Also, misled.

      • August 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

        Slippery for sure…

        • August 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

          8% on a raspberry lager? Can’t they just call it Rape Juice or something?

        • August 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

          They could give it a French spin, and call it “Rapee Jus” Classy!

  16. August 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    I know from my experience as an illustrator and designer that people are lazy when it comes to visual cues. They see a common element and automatically connect it with something they’ve seen before. While the overall illustration style is different, the splatters and dawg name more than hint at Flying Dog, and I’m sure whichever firm designed it for them had no illusions that they were copying FD’s style.

    AB InBev’s response probably came from the same firm who designed the brand. They most likely wrote up something similar when working on the account, trying to justify ripping off someone else’s intellectual property.

    • August 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      Jim Caruso contends that many breweries look to Flying Dog for inspiration on how to come up with fresh and edgy branding for their beers, so maybe you’re right – these guys stopped a little too close to where they started.

    • August 9, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      People often don’t see what they think they see.

      • August 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

        I’m not sure I see what you mean, or that I see what you want me to see what you mean.

  17. John
    August 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    Jim, did they offer to sell you a bridge?

    • August 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      Well they didn’t offer – they just assumed I wanted it.

  18. Nicole
    August 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    I got suckered into that Wild Blue once. It was the last of the night and so horrible we left without drinking it. Not good when drunk people can still tell it’s nasty.

    • August 8, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

      On paper a good dessert beer, but in your glass…eh, not so much!

  19. Nutty Brewnette
    August 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    Obviously not the same dog (you can’t confuse the raging bitch with Clifford), but also, they are not going to admit that they intended for it to resemble Flying Dog; because the style is similar, even if just the font and colors; typical PR statement. Branding and logos are what essentially define a company/organization and with a corp. like AB that has a large marketing budget, they can and will use this sort of tactic, unfortunately.

    • August 8, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

      They can pretty much do whatever they want. As Jim Caruso from Flying Dog told me, he’s not about to lock legal horns with a behemoth. So yeah, they’ll do as they please.

  20. Diss Content
    August 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    Whether it’s the distribution of GABF tickets, Rogue Ales suing a restaurant, or the industry consolidation in Ashville, NC; the craft beer industry needs to decide on a development arc.

    Want to sell tickets like Rock Stars? Don’t forget about the 600 breweries participating with 50,000 in attendance, or 84 people per micro brewery.

    Don’t like imitation? It is the sincerest form of flattery. But just like Elvis and Drag Queens, the customer base knows what’s going on and won’t be fooled twice.

    Think there’s gold at the end of the consolidation rainbow? That’s just what Ford, GM, and Chrysler thought about Detroit.

    The craft beer behavior of waving the small operation, using high quality ingredients flag, is not in alignment with these other observable behaviors. It appears as if they are trying to imitate AB on some level.

    Craft beer is by nature a small industry, with a relatively small and intimate customer base who will ultimately be the advertising as well. Craft beer can’t, and never has tried to compete on price. Craft breweries will likely continue to stipple the map where there’s a large enough demand, for a small batch recipe the big boys can’t duplicate.

    AB did exactly what every corporation on the planet does, and crafted via professional spokesperson, a zero calorie platitude, of multisyllabic non-diction, with a Clinton-esque denial, pointing with a thumb up gesture, under a Cheshire smile.

    Actually speaking with the Flying Dog CEO is reflective of the craft beer intimacy I would have anticipated; thus keeping all in the universe of beer in balance.

    • August 8, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

      Wait, drag queens aren’t really ladies?! That would explain all the awkward poking during the slow dances.

      If you’ll excuse me, I need to go cry in the shower…

      • Jeff
        July 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

        Very funny. I haven’t been to your site in a while. Always entertaining and informative! Cheers!

  21. August 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    “As for the label design, comparing the whimsical blueberry-kicking dog on the Wild Blue label to any of the gothic canines found on Flying Dog is like comparing da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to a Picasso portrait – they may portray a similar subject but stylistically, there’s no confusing the difference.” – Said Baghdad Bob as the cruise missiles rained down behind him.

    • August 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

      Now all of your brands are belong to us.

  22. August 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    “and there is nothing in Flying Dog’s portfolio with a comparable taste profile.”

    Good! If there was, I would probably be drinking less Flying Dog.

    • August 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      Yeah, no one is questioning this detail or complaining about it, that’s for sure.

  23. August 8, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    It took me a while to figure out Land Shark was Bud Light in a clear bottle… being a Parrothead and all I was taken by the “Margaritaville Brewing Company” and the whole Buffett aura… shame on me… and Jimmy for that matter… Although despite his beach bum persona he’s as shrewd as his non-relative Warren. I’m better now, by the way.

    Admittedly, I didn’t read all of the comments, so forgive me if someone already covered this but here’s my two cents:

    I’m not a fan of government interference so I don’t want to make the big guys spell it out on their labels but I do have a piece of advice for the real craft brewers… actually spell it out “WE ARE AN INDEPENDENT BREWER NOT AFFILIATED WITH A MAJOR BRAND”… or something similar. Rather than blaming the big guys for being profit-mongers, which is all they are, call out what YOU ARE… “HEY, I’M THE REAL DEAL…!”

    I eyeballed Batch 18 (or 13… or whatever batch it is) and Third Shift for a while with suspicions that they were big beer even though it wasn’t clearly on the label (duh!). I never did fall for these ones.

    • August 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

      I can smell ‘em now from a mile away. Also, look for twist tops – no craft brewer can afford those fancy caps!

  24. Dianne Budde
    August 9, 2013 at 7:35 am #

    You can bet your ass that if Flying Dog came out with a Beer say called “Flying Dog Blue”-a blueberry ale made with real wild yeast strains….they would be slapped with a lawsuit!

    • August 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

      Amen sister!

    • August 9, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

      Sure, and that’s why it sucks that Flying Dog doesn’t have the resources to battle A-B InBev in the courts. Once you fail to protect your intellectual property, you open yourself up for scenarios exactly like the one you detailed above. Now that Blue Dawg is uncontested, they can flex their legal rights to the images and ideas associated with their brand, even if they are kind of derivative of the person who wants to use it!

  25. Mel
    August 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Stinks a bit like past AB tactics phantom or crafty tactics aka- Pacific Ridge Pale Ale circa 1996, just to name one…

    Maybe you should also look at pulling footage from the 1996 Dateline episode that Stone Phillips did for your story.

    The irony might just be too much for AB to swallow…

    • August 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

      I guess old habits die hard, eh?

  26. CJ Hardin
    October 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    Interestingly enough, Flying Dog straight up stole the name “The Truth” from Green Man Brewing and then insulted the entire state of North Carolina and the city of Asheville on their Facebook page.

  27. December 12, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    Isn’t A-B also being sued for watering down there already watered down beers?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Beer crafty: InBev using packaging similar to Flying Dog | News To Me with George Mathis - August 8, 2013

    […] A beer and whiskey review site alleges InBev is using packaging quite similar to that of Flying Dog Brewery, a legitimate craft beer maker in Maryland, for its line of beers under Blue Dawg label. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,439 other followers

%d bloggers like this: