Beer Flavors Are Not That Subtle

There's a new ad by Anheuser-Busch floating through cyberspace that attempts to slyly suggest that Budweiser, served blind, would be accepted by drinkers even in enclaves as upscale and hipstery as Brooklyn:

In order to accept this facsimile of reality, you must believe a few things that are logically problematic:
  1. Anheuser-Busch is showing you an accurate reflection of what happened in that pub, not a heavily-edited version.  (Assuming, and some won't, that you think these are patrons and not actors in the first place.)
  2. Telling people you are serving them a "special beer" will allow them to appreciate Budweiser with what Buddhists call "beginner's mind" and give it a chance to impress on its own merits.
  3. People offered Budweiser blind would be shocked and amazed to learn what it was.
The most unbelievable thing, though, is the subtext Bud expects us to accept. The ad is structured to suggest that these are sophisticated drinkers who would normally be ordering Dogfish Head, Sixpoint, or Brooklyn Brewery's beers, and that merely recontectualizing Bud is enough to put it in their camp.  Absurd.  Yes, it's true that blind tasters have mistaken cheap plonk for good wine; people have even mistaken white wine for red wine.  Anyone who has done a blind tasting has come to terms with their own sensory frailties.  But those frailties are exposed when we are offered relatively subtle differences. Budweiser is not subtly different than an IPA or even a pale ale. It's not like trying to pick out cheap wine from expensive; it's like distinguishing chocolate ice cream from vanilla.

What? It's a Bud? I'm shocked!

Although it was excoriated by good-beer fans, I thought Bud's Super Bowl ad was a successful bit of counter-programming directly squarely at the people who were still accessible to Anheuser-Busch.  This ad will convince no one. People looking for an excuse to drink the beer they enjoy will not find it in the reactions of the Brooklynites in this ad. (Brooklyn, and maybe Portland and San Francisco, are punchlines for people who drink Bud, not cultural guides.)  It obviously won't convince people who have already discovered the delights of ales and more robust lagers.  It's an ad with no constituency and it pretty much insults everyone who watches it.