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July 16, 2008

Outsourcing Bad Beer

Once again, jingoism and the flailing economy collide. The most prolific and steadily unappetizing macrobrew distiller in America, Anheuser-Busch, has agreed to a $52-billion takeover offer from Belgian-based, Brazilian-operated InBev this week, thus adding itself to the list of things-available-to-but-no-longer-of America. Think tech support, celebrity childbirth, and Madonna.

Budweiser 9/11

A screenshot from Bud's 9/11 commercial

The impossibly multinational corporation InBev, essentially the Galactus of beverage companies, already owns such perennial brands as Stella Artois and Beck's, and gives hope to the idea that Budweiser might soon taste less like something your buddy urinated into a bottle on a cross-country road trip. Though probably not.

Anyhow, patriotic residents of St. Louis and beyond are outraged that foreign interlopers are making off with their corporation. The Wall Street Journal ran a story to that effect in its Saturday edition, derisive if only because apparently no amount of sensitivity can make Missouri look self-aware:

Jordan Moore took the news that his beloved Budweiser could soon fall into foreign hands very personally: He decided he would scrap his plan to get the logo of the King of Beers tattooed on his right rib cage. "I'll tell you one thing," said the 21-year-old concrete worker during his lunch break at The Brick of St. Louis bar, in the shadow of this city's storied Anheuser-Busch Cos. brewery, "if Budweiser is made by a different country, I don't drink Budweiser anymore. I'll go back to Wild Turkey." (Wild Turkey, a Kentucky bourbon, is owned by French drinks giant Pernod Ricard SA.)

Of course, Moore isn't alone in his confusion. There's a whole site devoted to keeping Bud American where you can buy SaveBudweiser T-shirts and listen to protest songs like "No Bud to Belgium." (The dollar is weak and the Euro is strong/ but Bud to Belgium is just plain wrong.)

Never mind that 'Budweiser' is a German word, or that the brand itself is a blatant riff on the first Budweiser, a Czech beer born and brewed in the Republic's city of Budweis. Americans are sensitive when it comes to diluting their rich and storied culture—one derived from talking horses, talking frogs, and jackasses who refuse to give up annoying conversation starters.

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