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Beer Megabrewers Crafting Microbrews?

Shortly after the craft beer revolution got underway, the lion (megabrewers) noticed the thorn (craft brewers) in its paw, leading to some clever marketing and business strategizing. Megabrewers liked the craft brewer’s cachet of quality — and premium prices.

In an illustration of the maxim that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, some of the big U.S. megabrewers have either bought or become partners with a number of successful regional craft brewers; some of the big guys have also started making their own craft-like brands disguised as microbrews through clever marketing (one wag dubbed them stealth micros). Here are a couple of megabrewers who have put out craft-like brews:

  • The Miller Brewing Company: Miller merged with Molson a few years back and introduced Blue Moon white beer under the auspices of the Blue Moon Brewing Company. Blue Moon continues to be very popular despite the fact that it’s brewed by a megabrewery corporation. Together, they’ve produced several variations on the moon theme.

  • The Anheuser-Busch (A-B) Brewing Company: Tinkering with macro-made microbrews for quite a while now, A-B’s most recent introductions to the world of pseudo craft beers are Shock Top Wheat, Stone Mill Pale Ale, and Land Shark Lager, the latter of which is brewed specially for Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant chain.

Although some of the stealth brews are terrific, quality, and award-winning traditional brews, many are the plain old, same old bland stuff masquerading as good stuff. Caveat emptor.

In the United Kingdom, the big brewers are pushing nitrokeg beer (filtered and pasteurized keg beer artificially carbonated and pressurized with a nitrogen/carbon dioxide blend) disguised as the more costly and appreciated naturally carbonated, unfiltered, unpasteurized, and hand-pumped cask-conditioned ales. The brewers even supply fake hand pumps. Traditionalists are in an uproar.

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