Michelob Fall Sampler PackI got an email this morning from the folks at Michelob Brewing Co. (owned by Belgium’s largest brewery – Anheuser-Busch) alerting me to the release of their new “Ale Sampler Pack”. Usually when I receive press releases from any of the brewing behemoths like Michelob, they go straight to the virtual trash can. But, for whatever reason, I guess they caught me at the right time during my email purge this morning and I decided to give the press release a quick glance-over. Here’s what it said, in so many words:

Apparently Michelob is releasing a new “Fall/Winter sampler pack” featuring four ales: Michelob Porter, Michelob Pale Ale, Michelob Bavarian Style Wheat & the new Michelob Rye P.A. From the press release,

Michelob Rye P.A. is a robust ale with distinct bitterness, perfectly balanced by complex malt flavors and the spiciness of rye. Previously only shared at beer festivals, this highly anticipated beer is being introduced exclusively in the Michelob Brewing Co. Fall/Winter Sampler Pack.

  • Malt: Two Row, Caramel, Rye
  • Hops: Columbus, Cascade; 50 IBUs
  • ABV: 5.9%

Michelob Bavarian Style Wheat is an unfiltered wheat beer that is lightly hopped and fermented using a unique yeast strain to create characteristic banana and clove aromas. The beer was originally introduced in 2006 as part of a sampler pack and made available seasonally in 2007.

  • Malt: Two Row, Wheat
  • Hops: Cascade, Hallertau, 13 IBUs
  • ABV: 5.2%

Michelob Pale Ale is dry hopped to produce a delicious floral and citrus nose. This balanced ale pours a thick foam head and displays a deep, orange-amber color. Michelob Pale Ale’s spicy tones and a slightly bitter profile are balanced with a clean finish.

  • Malt: Two Row, Toasted and Caramel
  • Hops: Hallertau, Saaz, Cascade; 37 IBUs
  • ABV: 5.5%

Michelob Porter showcases bold coffee and chocolate tones with subtle notes of raspberry and pine. With a lineage tracing back to 18th century London, our porter displays the creamy texture and hearty flavor that made this English-style ale famous.

  • Malt: Two Row, Toasted, Caramel and Chocolate
  • Hops: Willamette, Saaz; 25 IBUs
  • ABV: 5.9%

So yeah, there you have it. But my real reason for posting this is that I’m really intrigued about who the folks at Michelob think will buy these sampler packs. I know that the muckety-mucks at “The Big Three” have been scared of craft beer for awhile now. While the total consumption of craft beer still pales in comparison to that of macro-brewed swill, its numbers have steadily been on the rise for years now, while sales of macro-brews have remained completely stagnant. So of course they’re worried, and those worries lead to the mimicking of the little guys (the Michelob Mix Pack certainly isn’t the first attempt by AB at craft beer-styles).

But what I’m wondering is who in the hell is going to buy these mixed packs?! My guess is that 96% of craft beer drinkers will stay away and not even give the beers a try, simply because the label reads “Michelob”. Even if they’re interested in the styles, or in intrigued by what Michelob is up to, craft beer drinkers like to support the little guys — that’s part of the reason we drink what we drink — and they’re not going to fork over hard-earned drinking dollars to Anheuser-Busch when those same dollars could go to the brewery down the block.

And Michelob drinkers drink Michelob Ultra or Michelob Lite and they do so for one reason — it’s not about taste, craft or quality. That’s not why they drink. So will these new flavors that Michelob drinkers probably haven’t even ever heard of (no offense) really sway them from their light-beer-drinking ways? No, probably not.

I don’t get it; who are these beers really for? Who will drink them? Will you?



  1. Truth be told, I’ll give them a try.  (shut up)  I’m a heretic, I know.  Honestly, in good conscience I can’t decry something as bland,
    tasteless, or gross unless I’ve given it a fair shake.  Presumptuously, I won’t be expecting much, but I’ll give it a
    whirl, and I’ll be hoping that Michelob had flavor, not mere profit in mind when they brewed this bunch.

  2. I’d buy it. I like Rye PAs and would defintely try Michelob’s.  And their Porter is pretty solid, too.  I don’t drink beer because I want to financially support one brewer over another. I drink good beer because I like good beer. Who cares who brews it?

  3. I’m not saying I wouldn’t try it, I’m just saying I’m not about to go out and buy it (and I’d be surprised if many others do). And while I can agree, Rob, about drinking beer for beer’s sake, I think to say “who cares who brews it” is a pretty significant insult to the craft of brewing. To me anyway, “who brews it” is often just as important as what they’ve brewed.

  4. I’ve had that Porter. It’s not the most interesting or best porter I’ve had by far but it wasn’t bad.

    Who will drink these? People looking to save some money. People who drink the A-B brands and aren’t too adventurous.

  5. These sampler packs are usually teasers and don’t last long.  The goal is to get new people interested in the Michelob version and have them cross over.  My best guess would be that they plan for this to hopefully draw folks who are already drinking “micro”(macro) brews like Leinenkugel, Redhook, Blue Moon, etc. while stemming the flow to Sierra Nevada, Rogue, Brooklyn Brewery, Boston Beer Co., and Bell’s (gotta give the shout out to the MI guys!),  etc.

    You’re absolutely right, these aren’t about getting Mic lite and ultra folks, but my guess would be it is about either giving them a place to “grow” into or giving folks from other brands another option.  Plus at the price point that this will probably sit, it will likely draw some of the craft folks over to try them (as the comments above suggest) while also being more profitable than traditional michelob .  Once they’ve done that, they hope that the new customers see the value and quality, and ultimately stick around.

    So, that’s the target…  Will it work?  Probably some will to some degree.
    Shock Top and AmberBock are already doing pretty well, and their Mic beers.    Plus, let’s face it, no one is fooling anyone into thinking any of these “micro”(macro) brews are really craft beers anymore, anyway.  So why would A-B expend the time and energy to hide it?  So if they’re going to brew a “craft style” may as well put a name on it that people recognize (like michelob).

    My opinion anyway for what its worth…


  6. Doh, Redhook is already an A-B beer, I suppose they probably aren’t trying to steal customers from themselves… but you get my point.  🙂

  7. I totally hear where you’re coming from on this one. When I see new attempts at cracking the microbrew market from larger brewers, I automatically assume they suck. I’m still a little curious to try them, but not enough to pay money for them. The A/B’s of the world could be getting better at “craft brewing,” but I’ve already tried enough Killian’s-like offerings to risk wasting my time and money on another.
    On the other hand, maybe there is a small niche market for mainstream beer drinkers who want to try something new. I know that, just before I got into craft brews in the early/mid 90s, I was pleasantly surprised that I liked this new, darker and more flavorful lager called Sam Adams.

  8. I definitely agree with what you’re saying, Dave. But, to clear the air, A-B doesn’t own Redhook. They have a small stock in the company (like a couple of shares only) in exchange for Redhook’s partial use of their distribution network. But that’s really the extent of their relationship. Just a head’s up. But you’re right about the new Mic beers.

    Thanks for the comments everyone! Keep ’em coming!

  9. It all depends on why you drink the beer you drink.  I personally don’t care who brewed it, if it passes
    muster than I’ll drink it.  Why do craft-beer drinkers need to be such snobs about what they drink.  They seem more concerned with who they drink, like it’s some sort of designer label issue relevant to teenage girls. 
    Has Michelob made a slew of great craft-style beers?   Not really. 
    Has Michelob tried to cash in on craft beer scene?  Sure. 
    Haven’t plenty of smaller companies come along to try their hand at craft beer only to turn out sub-par material? Of course.
    It’s very hypocritical to say their beer is going to be bad because it’s made by a big brand.  Sam Adams is they biggest microbrew out there and I’m sure everyone can agree they’ve made some crappy beers – beer snobs bash Summer Ale, Cranberry Lambic, and others, yet they don’t feel compelled to purchase the beer just to support a smaller company…   Just my two cents.

  10. Beer is good, I’ve literally never had a bad beer in my life. Sure, obviously some beers are better than others.
    But, much like sex, even a bad beer is still pretty good. Beer is the drink of the working man. I fully
    understand wanting to support local small craft brewers. That is a a common refrain across all business fronts..
    Save Mom-and-Pop Vs. Wal-mart, and their is nothing wrong with that feeling. However, don’t get snooty about beer.
    Save snooty for the “wine” set. Big brewers, small brewers, enjoy it all!

  11. Did you ever think that Michelob is the brewer down the block. They employ many new brew masters every year and give someone a new chance to actually make some quality brews with the finest ingredients. Unlike you who claim you’re some brew expert while you sit at home and brew your at home wannabe beer bullshit!

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