There is no question at all when it comes to how much fermented malt beverage (beer) was sold in 2003 in the United States (the last year with verifiable statistics). Altogether, it came to 202,277,024 barrels or 6,270,857,744 gallons or, in plain English, fifty billion one hundred and sixty six million eight hundred and sixty one thousand nine hundred and fifty two pints. Keep in mind that with 307 million folks living in the United States of America, that comes to 163.4 pints of beer for every man, woman and child.
There is also no question that the Anheuser-Busch “family” of brands makes up just over 51% of that ocean of beer. That is, more or less, twenty five billion pints of beer. What kind of beer is this elixir of the masses?
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23 (2010) for a twelve ounce bottle of Budweiser (5.5% alcohol by volume) the consumer is getting 357 grams of product of which 331.19 is water. There is also 1.2 grams of protein, .39 grams of ash (?), 10.60 grams Carbohydrate, by difference, and 13.9 grams of ethyl alcohol. That leaves .26 grams of mystery. That is what the Federal government tells me. Naturally, that is sparse and less than informative. This is no surprise to me because I know enough to know that government information is not meant to be informative, just informational. There is a difference.
Let’s see what Anheuser-Busch InBev says Budweiser is. The Anheuser-Busch InBev web site says: “Barley malt, rice, hops, yeast and water. Nothing more. Nothing less. Five ingredients. One classic taste.” The website also shows a nice picture of the beer bottle… and a frothy, tall, glistening glass of beer. The beer in the glass is almost lemon yellow, absolutely glowing and topped with a crown of pure white foam at least two inches thick.
Now I have visited over two thousand bars in my life. Almost two thirds of those were in the United States. In only three did I ever see a glass of Budweiser poured into a glass and crowned with a head of pure white foam at least two inches deep. Nevertheless, the picture on the website was what the folks that market the beer want it to look like in the glass. The consumer wants a full glass of beer. The customer’s sense of thrift seems to trump esthetics in this case it seems to me.
Thrift surely isn’t the unique selling point that drives fifty one percent of the consumers in the United States to pick an Anheuser-Busch InBev product when they purchase a beer. However, it is thrift that influences the production of American-Style lager beer. The inclusion of rice on the Anheuser-Busch InBev website is only the tip of the matter. Keep in mind that yeast doesn’t care where the sugar they turn into beer comes from. Brewing companies care a lot about the cost of sugar.
Perhaps the glowing glass of beer is trying to tell me something? It calls to my sense of glowing well-being. The pure white head, as light as a cloud, lifts my spirits. The dew on the glass glistens in a most refreshing way. The shimmer of golden prosperity is effusive.
The value of refreshment of the thirsts of body and soul can never be underestimated. If a beverage can be both, its value to the consumer is enhanced considerably if priced to be sold in quantities sufficient to super salve both body and soul without sapping the wallet.
Now yellow beer has two things going for it on my score sheet. The advertisements tell me it will make my life better. It costs about the same as soft drinks. And, the trump card hits the table… it makes me feel a lot better after drinking a few.
Now I’m getting somewhere.
But why is yellow beer so dominant? Shouldn’t the beer drinker tailor his or her thirst to fit the season or occasion? Take another look at the cost per bottle of anything other than yellow beer.
The perceived return for value on the low cost investment in a bottle of mass marketed mass produced inexpensive refreshing socially acceptable beverage that takes the edge off life is not worth having to have to think about. For most beer consumers this is an automatic impulse purchase that is based on price point and then product brand.
And that is the perfect beer to be the elixir of the masses I think.