Pro & Con: Does it matter if your brew is American made? | St. Louis Public Radio

Pro & Con: Does it matter if your brew is American made?

Jul 2, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 2, 2008 - A Fan of Anheuser-busch, Not Its Beer

By Rachel Brougham

I may not look like your average beer connoisseur. I'm a 30-year-old marathon runner. While I'm a woman who looks more like a snobby wine and cheese lover, I love my brew. More important, I love my imports and microbrews.

The offer from InBev to buy Anheuser-Busch has apparently insulted a lot of people. It didn't insult me. In fact, the only time I'd drink a beer made by Anheuser-Busch was if it were free and I had no other beer to choose from.

I've never really enjoyed American beer; I prefer the strong flavors of porters and stouts, and the fruity aromas of wheat beers. And after years of drinking more so-called, "sophisticated beers," I doubt I'll ever go back to those seemingly bland, watered downed American brews.

Truth is, for the most part, I'm not a loyalist, I'm an adventurer. I love trying new beers. I mix up six packs like nobody's business. I try microbrews from breweries I'll probably never have the chance to visit, and enjoy the strong flavor of hops and other accents that make each beer so unique. Then, I move on to the next one.

I do, however, believe in tradition, and I think name recognition and loyalty has to come from somewhere. While you won't find me reaching for a Bud, millions of loyal beer drinkers in this country do. And these drinkers can't afford to lose an American tradition.

Despite my distaste for American beers, Anheuser-Busch is in American institution. Anheuser-Busch is as American as apple pie and baseball, and losing it to a Belgian company would be like canceling the 4th of July this year. The Budweiser label even displays the red, white and blue. It would be a loss, not only for beer drinkers, but for America.

We import so many products from other countries and have had so many U.S. companies bought by foreign firms that you have to wonder what's next if Anheuser-Busch falls? Microsoft?

Traditions Matter to Beer Drinkers

By Frank Pastirchak

Budweiser is built on its unique American flavor and unique American working-class image. The Budweiser red-white-and-blue label has been lifted high at many working-class barbecues and beer halls since 1876. Now, beer drinkers must wait to see whether the first beer they drank with their dads at baseball games or on fishing trips will remain an American institution or become part of a European international conglomerate.

I am not saying that Anheuser-Busch shareholders should subordinate their retirement plans to American working class consumers, nor am I saying that company executives should ignore trends in global competition and jeopardize Anheuser-Busch's ability to compete internationally in the future. However, you cannot cultivate and benefit from intense social class and national brand loyalty, and then toss it to into a dumpster like a case of beer gone flat. When Coca-Cola changed its 100-year-old formula in 1985, it suffered a backlash so severe that its executives had to re-group and keep the original formula.

Many consumers of beer, particularly men, are extremely attached to the brand of beer their father, uncle or grandfather first shared with them. Having a beer at a baseball game or a football game is a right of passage for just about every American male. The beer one drinks at this right of passage burns an indelible memory and brand loyalty.

Anheuser-Busch executives and board members must decide what is best for the shareholders, the employees, their loyal customers, and the future of their company. My uncle gave me my first can of beer on a hot August night after I caught my first bluefish. I know that when my son is ready for his first beer, I'll make sure I hand him one made by an American company.