I see this fake “microbrewed craft beer” heavily stocked and advertised, but I’ve never seen anyone drink or talk about it and I can’t figure out who its audience is. Average-Joe types aren’t into microbrews, and the real beer enthusiasts can smell a fake a mile away. Plus, the marketing is condescending and assumes you are a wannabe hipster d-bag. Am I being unfair?
Yes and no. Yes it is a macrobrew, but actually a pretty decent one. It’s market seems to be people who want something a little different, but not too different and not at micro prices. It’s on draft everywhere around here, so I assume somebody’s drinking the stuff.
I’ve never even considered it because I don’t like wheat beers.
I think you just answered your own question. Don’t underestimate the market segment of “wannabe hipster d-bags”; they typically earn a large amount of disposable income and have poor discrimination of taste and style. There is a lot of money to be had in marketing your product to that audience, hence the popularity of Chrysler “Hemi” branded vehicles, Abercrombie & Fitch clothing, and Starbucks coffee-flavored liquid sugar beverages.
I still prefer Blue Moon, but Shock Top surprised me. I thought it was just Budweiser muscling in with an inferior beer, but it tastes pretty good. It’s like Pepsi to real CocaCola, an acceptable alternative if on sale or the other is not on tap.
Can’t coment on advertising. I don’t think the mohawk orange guy matches what the actual beer tastes like, though. There really isn’t anything shocking about it.
I must be missing the ads.
What’s wrong with Shock Top? It’s one of my go-to’s when you want to bring something inoffensive to a big party.
Shock Top is a solid choice for a standard inoffensive wheat beer. Between that and Blue Moon, it’s pretty much a coin flip for me but I do find Shock Top to be a little less heavy.
I can’t really comment on the “wannabe hipster d-bag” factor but I don’t come across many beer ads outside of the core brands anyway.
So it has replaced Rolling Rock and Shiner Bock in this capacity? I find this a sad commentary on American society, which grew from venerating Coors and Michelob in the 'Seventies and early 'Eighties to drinking and even learning how to make real beer (Zima and Sam Adams nothwithstanding) only to regress to this.
I prefer Blue Moon for my fake microbrew fix. Honestly I’m sure I couldn’t tell the difference in a blind taste test, but I think Shock Top has a stupid name, and the orange-slice-mohawk-with-sunglasses graphic is pretentious. It’s the Poochie of beer logos.
Yeah, can’t comment on the flavor, but I looked up online reviews and it’s received criticism for purporting to be a craft brewed beer when it is actually mass produced by Annheuser-Busch, and for being a poor imitation of microbrews which are superior. I’ve seen quite a few billboards & posters for it in the Northeast, though I’ve never seen it on tap anywhere.
Nothing you say here makes any sense, and makes me strongly suspect that you don’t know anything at all about good beer.
It sounds like you’re defending Rolling Rock, a beer that even long before it was bought out by a macrobrewer tasted of water and nothing else. Rolling Rock was a go to in my family going back many decades and I’ve had many a hangover from it, but it’s in the same category as Bud Light or even Natty Light, it’s a flavorless alcohol delivery vehicle, no more, no less.
Then you insult Sam Adams, a genuine craft brewer, along with Sierra Nevada arguably it started the resurgence in craft brewing. Sam Adams has a ton of different beers, and some I don’t care for and I think some are just ill conceived, but it’s unlikely any genuine liker of beer can’t find a product that SA puts out that they like. It’s especially odd someone would hold up Rolling Rock as a good beer versus Sam Adams, when Rolling Rock is basically everything bad about American brewing and Sam Adams is everything right. There’s also virtually no difference between products like Michelob/Coors which you denigrate, and Rolling Rock which you tout.
Shiner Bock is a touch above RR/Yuengling/Pabst and various other non-Bud/Miller American pale lager makers primarily because its an American dark lager and thus has some genuine flavor, but not much. Shiner was nice compared to the basic glut of pale lagers that made up almost all beer made in the United States prior to the 1980s, but it doesn’t really measure up at all against well made microbrews today, putting it just a touch ahead of the most generic macrobrew flavors.
As to the topic of the thread, I personally don’t like the style of Shock Top (I believe all their types are just different varieties of wheat beer) but it’s okay for a beer I don’t like. For a similar macrobrew product, Blue Moon is better but again, not a fan of that style.
There’s nothing precluding a macrobrewing concern from brewing good “micro” style beers, though. The processes involved aren’t that complicated. I heard an interview once from one of the founders of Sierra Nevada, and he actually notes that the reason the big macrobrews taste like that is it’s basically impossible to make a beer with complex flavor across dozens of different breweries and with the output that the big boys have for the major brands like Bud Light, Miller Lite etc. He talked at length about how they were worried about just this as they started brewing their flagship Pale Ale at more than one location–and sure enough, he said there are minor taste differences from beers that come out of one brewery versus another. On a large enough scale it’s basically an impossible problem to solve, but those same big brewers are certainly capable of doing small batch brewing if they wanted and I doubt they’d do terrible. Some of their occasional forays into that don’t usually turn out that bad.
I don’t get that too much, and to me it shows faulty thinking. I was at a new brew pub that just opened and started brewing a few weeks ago and the beers served were worse than any macrobrew I’ve ever had, one that I tried actually tasted of soap. It’s received horrible reviews online.
This is because there’s nothing magical about being a microbrew that makes your product good. It just means you’re a small scale brewer, and you can produce the full range of stuff at that scale, from absolutely undrinkable stuff to really good beers.
There some things about being a macrobrew that makes it very hard to compete on flavor:
The most popular style in America is what is deemed “American Pale Lager”, and to sell at the scale of a macrobrewer you need to make this product. This type of beer is intrinsically not super high on the flavor scale. Even really “good” pale lagers made in Europe of which I’ve had many, don’t have “strong” flavor. It’s not a style that is going to have strong flavor and because lagers are also supposed to be served colder than ales, that’s going to make them less flavorful (just like wine, cold beer is less flavorful than warmer beer–not that I’m saying serve beer warm, but when it’s right at the point of freezing it has the worst taste profile.)
Controlling for all the inputs that go into beer is extremely hard if you’re going to do it at dozens of brewing locations across the country and if you’re trying to sell at huge scale beers that all taste 100% the same can for can. I’ve heard a few microbrewers (including I believe both Jim Koch who founded Boston Beer and one of the founders of Sierra Nevada) say that they do give their hats to AB/SAB for being able to produce such a consistent product–it’s extremely difficult to do that. If you try to add lots of complex ingredients and flavors it basically becomes impossible.
Even if you could make all your beers taste like say, Great Lakes Christmas Ale, the problem is that market for that taste is much smaller than the market for Budweiser, seriously. Don’t believe me? Look at the sales numbers.
But that being said, it’s not impossible for a macrobrewer to produce good beer. For example, Leinenkugel was a multi-generational family owned brewery in Wisconsin. They were bought out by Miller in the late 1980s, and thus cannot be called a craft/microbrewery. But, something like 95% of the Leinenkugel brand is brewed at one brewery, the same one where they’ve always brewed the stuff. So in actual effect it’s ran no differently than it would be if the family still owned it.
The official brewing association in the United States strictly excludes subsidiaries from being labeled craft brewer, but in its operations an entity like Leinenkugel basically is a craft brewer. [FWIW Leinenkugel was more of a Yuengling style small brewer, their stuff isn’t amazing compared to the stuff out there now but it was better than Miller Lite or Bud Light and it’s pretty much the same quality to this day.] But they don’t really specialize in West Coast style IPAs or Pale Ales–which is what some people mean when they say “craft beer.” Nevermind that many great craft breweries here east of the Mississippi make great stouts, lagers, and ales of the non-IPA variety.
I wasn’t holding up either Rolling Rock or Shiner Bock as great, or even particularly good, beer except as an improvement in comparison to what came before it in terms of being a progressing in the standard of “minimally acceptable product to be labeled ‘beer’”. This mantle has apparently now been replaced by Shock Top which is clearly a “beer”-type product for people who don’t actually like the flavor of beer, hence the infusion of sweet or fruity flavors to mask any vague sense of bitterness; in other words, the replacement for Zima and Smirnoff Ice.
As for Sam Adams, I’ve never had one that has failed to leave a bad aftertaste in my mouth, and it is clearly trying to market what is basically a flavored macrobrew as a craft brew, which it is not. Sierra Nevada, on the other hand, makes several quite palatable pale and IPAs. I can’t say that I care for their porter, but the Bigfoot is actually a surprisingly decent barleywine-type beer.
Rolling Rock has never made the pretense of being anything other than a pale lager-style beer that largely distinguished itself from other lagers by marketing and the distinctive green bottles; basically the North American version of Heineken. I wouldn’t “tout” it as being in any way great, but it is a minimally palatable beer to be consumed in social situations where the host clearly isn’t concerned about providing actual good beer.
I like it, but I found out about it in a brewery tour. Never saw a single ad.
So what if it a “fake micro brew”. I don’t need hipster cred by being seen drinking only “approved” beers. It tastes fine to me, for how little I drink.
And, I went to college in the days of the “true” Leinenkugels - 2 bucks a case, and comes with a free roll of toilet paper.