Bud Light Platinum: Did Someone Just Call This a Craft Beer?!

As someone who writes a lot, I know that you must choose your words wisely.  Sometimes this is more important than others, like when describing the very essence of a thing to a highly sensitive and knowledgeable audience.  Call a tomato a vegetable, and a carpologist is going to call you out on it.  Tell a Japanese person that sushi means “raw fish” and they’ll quickly (and probably quite politely) tell you it actually mean “sour rice.” Call Budweiser’s new Bud Light Platinum a “craft beer” and you’re going to hear it from me. 

Seriously?!

That’s what the headline of Drinks Business Review just called Bud’s new offering, a boozed up version of Bud Light that raises the alcohol level in the beer from 4.2% up to 6%, which raises the calorie count (like you care) from 110 to 145 per 12 ounce serving.  While DBR isn’t Beernews.org, it does seem to be a legitimate drinks-industry resource.

The fact that they referred to Bud Light Platinum a “craft beer” is telling.  Obviously Platinum isn’t “craft” by any stretch of the imagination, but it may show who Budweiser sees as a threat.

Of course, DBR’s source for their story is the L.A. Times, whose piece contained this paragraph:

Some beer enthusiasts suggest that Platinum is Anheuser-Busch’s attempt to take advantage of growing interest in craft beers, whose popularity has also sparked a recent boom in beer gardens and micro-breweries.

And Business Insider points out that Bud has been chasing the craft beer drinker lately:

Bud Light launched a pair of spinoff brands in the last few years — Bud Light Lime and Bud Light Golden Wheat — in an attempt to attract more craft beer drinkers. Bud Light Platinum’s differentiation will most likely rely on its marketing as a ‘premium’ brand, as its name implies (though it does sound a bit like a credit card rewards program).

So maybe the speculation by beer geeks printed in the L.A. Times was taken by Drinks Business Review as a fact, or maybe they were influenced by Bud’s track record of late. I dunno.  Drinks Business Review’s language may be imprecise, but I still find it telling, especially when overall beer sales are down 1% for the year, but craft beer sales are up 11%. There’s a shift happening, and the slow-moving giants are starting to stir.  Craft beers typically have a higher alcohol content than their macro-swill cousins, so perhaps that’s what made DBR think of “craft beer.”

If there was any doubt that this isn’t a true craft beer, check out this quote from Anheuser-Busch, which says that Bud Light Platinum was designed to “appeal to a key group of beer drinkers and expand consumer occasions to drink beer.” Beep-boop-bop-consumer occasions-erp-zeep-norp-key group of beer drinkers… That business-babble sounds like something a robot would say, not a brewer.

I think we need to come up with a Reinheitsgebot for craft beer, giving it a clear and precise definition.  Otherwise it’s going to become like “all-natural” and “artisan” – words that are slapped on crappy products by large corporations in order to trick the consumer into thinking it’s something better than it actually is.  It looks like that day might be here sooner than we think.

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Categories: Beer, News

Author:Jim

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

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36 Comments on “Bud Light Platinum: Did Someone Just Call This a Craft Beer?!”

  1. November 10, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Jim, i’d much rather like to think that they actually, and intentionally, mispronounced the word…it should have been pronounced Crapt Beer…

    • November 10, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      That would certainly make a TON of sense!

  2. Don
    November 10, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    IT’d be easy to do a Reinheitsgebot for craft beer, two words. “No Rice”.

    • November 10, 2011 at 11:51 am #

      Nope, that wouldn’t do it. Japan’s Hitachino Nest uses rice in its beer and it is definitely a craft brewery that makes delicious beer. Using rice can actually have a nice drying effect, when used properly. I don’t know of any benefits to using corn, however.

      • November 10, 2011 at 11:53 am #

        Caution Brewing also uses rice in at least one of their beers, and with mixed results in my opinion. 🙂

        • November 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

          I’m working on a super-secret homebrew recipe that will use rice. I’m interested to see what effect it has on the mouthfeel of my beer.

        • November 10, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

          Depends on whether or not you leave it in. 😉

    • November 10, 2011 at 11:58 am #

      I think that still leaves far too many corner-cutting options.

  3. FatCatKC
    November 10, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Uhhh Ohhhh! Imagine the effects this will have on drunk d bags in public. Normally I drink 13 Bud Lights before I catch a buzz but the other night I only got to 7 Platinums before I blacked out and peed on the bartender.

    P.S. Did you see the story about one of the Busch family starting a new brewing company and is actually going to follow the German purity laws?

    • November 10, 2011 at 11:59 am #

      Agreed – it’s gonna screw up their drinking rhythm!

      I’ve seen that about the Busch’s, but haven’t really dug into it. There’s just too much history of crappiness there…

  4. November 10, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    The evil empire strikes again, and as it typically does, fails miserably. Look closely and I’d bet DBR receives secret funding from AB/Inbev; either that or the writer is someone who is completely clueless.

    As far as a standard to differentiate craft beer from macro, I think it would be an impossible task. There has already been terminology changes over the years from “microbrew” to “craft beer” (craft beer was used sporadically up until about 10-15 years ago) because of the increased production from breweries like New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Dogfish Head, etc. You can’t even use ingredients as a measure since so many are using nearly everything under the sun in their brew kettles.

    I propose that it be a secret hand shake that craft brewers and their fans use among each other. 😉

    • November 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      Yeah, I think we’ll always be able to taste the difference anyway.

  5. November 10, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    As long as they promise to offer a “Platinum” version of their delicious Chelada, I’m sold!

    • November 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

      Maybe they’ll just let the tomatoes rot…I mean ferment…longer.

  6. November 10, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Do not fear the adjuncts, they can be very helpful to certain styles. As for an earlier comment about corn, a little bit in an ESB goes a long way to making it more traditional. Remember, England never had a Reinheitsgebot.

    Rice can be used to dry a beer out and make it a bit more crisp. I know more than a few brewers whom use rice in minimal amounts to dry out their IPA’s, even some that use sugar. These are all normal accepted techniques to brewing beer. It’s all in how and why you use it.

    Just because the huge mega conglomero breweries of the US (mainly) have given adjuncts a bad name doesn’t mean that they are bad, in moderation. And technically all the craft beers we enjoy with anything besides hops, water, yeast and barley are adjunct laden. If that was the case DFH would be the worst offender of them all.

    • November 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

      Yes, intent matters far more than ingredients, as long as they are decent quality.

    • November 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

      I had no idea about the corn/ESB connection; interesting!

      • Don
        November 10, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

        But that has nothing to do with the Porn/EWW connection…

  7. JB
    November 10, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    It just goes to show how the big breweries continue to be out of touch. You aren’t going to pull craft beer enthusiasts over by adding more alcohol to a crappy product. It’s clear that consumers want more quality for their money, and you aren’t going to find any quality in Bud Light, regardless of it’s ABV.

    Leave the big brands (Bud Light, Miller Light, Coors Light) to the folks who just want to get drunk and focus on expanding your reach through Goose Island and other avenues if you want to really make headway in the craft beer market.

    I think it’s also a stretch to say that Bud Light Lime was an attempt to go after the craft beer market. If anything it was an attempt to get the Corona drinkers to make a switch. Golden Wheat _may_have_been_ a play at the craft beer market, but IMO American Ale was a much better play at this, and was probably the best product AB has ever released (what ever happened to American Ale anyway).

    • November 10, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

      They’ll keep trying and – who knows? – maybe they’ll start making better beer.

    • chris
      January 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

      American ale is discontinued wheat was awful. Shock top is great and has actually won awards unlike blue moon which is the most over rated beer ever as well as fat tire .. someone did a sampling of amberbock against fat tire and made up some crafty name for amberbock and it blew the doors of fat tire. Craft beer drinkers are like teens rebelling against parents go against the grain so I look cool … if it wasn’t for sam adams craft beers wouldn’t be where they are today but sam adams is too big for them now even they changed the definition of craft beer just for sam adams!!

  8. Brendan
    November 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Putting a tutu on a pig doesn’t make it a ballerina.

    • John King
      November 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

      but putting lipstick on a pig makes a good night for Don.

      • November 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

        Yeah, you should see where he puts it, too.

      • Don
        November 10, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

        Bears Love Pork!

    • November 10, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

      My pig is going to be VERY upset if she ever sees this, Brendan.

  9. Brendan
    November 10, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    She can drown her sorrows in Bud Platinum. Tell her that you are taking her a roast like one of those “Friar’s Club” events. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    • November 11, 2011 at 10:03 am #

      Pigs don’t like it when you say you’re taking them to a roast – at least the smart ones… 🙂

  10. November 10, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    I’m not too worried about it. As you said it obviously wasn’t made for Craft Beer Lovers, and the real craft beer lovers will see right through it.

    • November 11, 2011 at 10:04 am #

      Agreed. But it’s interesting to see the fingerprints of the craft beer revolution on AB latest move here.

  11. November 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    The great unwashed may fall for it, but the craft beer crowd won’t. So its really something that happens outside of our experiential zone. We can continue to sit and laugh BB’s antics while we drink the real stuff.

    As for the Busch’s starting a brewery hewing to Reinheitsgebot, its my understanding that the original Czech Budweiser (actually called Budějovický in Czech), made by the Budvar Brewery in České Budějovice in Bohemia, was/is quite good. So maybe the Busch family wants to get back to traditions.

    • November 11, 2011 at 10:06 am #

      I say boo to them. They are creating a light lager and a “lite” light lager – same old crap, just no corn or rice. They are brewing for the lowest common denominator, at least as it exists above the “adjuncts” line.

  12. November 11, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    I agree: I don’t see AB saying “this is a craft beer” anywhere. Those words are being put in their mouths. This isn’t aimed at craft beer anymore than Tilt, B(e), or Bud Light Lime were; it’s aimed at getting more money for “light” beer…but it isn’t even light.

    Well-said, Jim.

    • November 11, 2011 at 10:06 am #

      Yeah, it’s kind of a heavy “lite” beer, which is a delicious oxymoron.

  13. J. Matthew
    January 21, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    I’ve just recently tried Bud Light Platinum at the bar and I can’t can’t find any information about the type of yeast that they used. The taste has remittance of Belgian yeast. Any thoughts?

  14. jen
    April 5, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    Calm down everyone! As a bartender I get where all u beer snobs are not coming from. Everyone loves great beer. It’s just a beer with 6% alcohol that won’t stuff you. You can drink as many as you want and spend a little over what a normal bud would cost you and get a much better buzz. The only mistake here was thinking anything over 4% is a craft beer when indeed there are plenty of craft beers even below that percentage. This beer is all about quantity and not quality.. Doesn’t mean it is crap. It actually tastes much better than a normal bud surprisingly 🙂

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