Now that craft beer has firmly established itself as more than a market niche, beer giants are looking to microbreweries for their next edge. To wit:Anheuser-Busch Inbev is going bottle to bottle with South Florida's Florida Beer Company and FBC is not too excited about it.
Next month the beer company formerly known as Anheuser-Busch -- now owned by the Belgian giant InBev -- is set to release Bud Light Platinum, a 6.8% sweeter-tasting high-gravity light beer, that comes in a cobalt-blue bottle. The only problem is that FBC already released its own blue bottled concoction and isn't too pleased to have Bud muscling in on its territory.
Last September, the Melbourne, Florida-based FBC released Conchtoberfest, a seasonal Oktoberfest Märzen lager bottled in blue glass. The company marketed the blue bottle to make it stand out from the rest of the Oktoberfest beers.
Neither company could be reached for comment because of the holidays, but in a statement FBC says AB-Inbev's move will ruin the exotic allure of the blue bottle.
"It has come to our attention that another company has announced the release of a mass-produced brew that will be placed in a blue bottle that will inevitably make the 'wow' factor blue fade back into a brown bottle world," said FBC on their blog on December 23. "Their intention is to compete with the ever so growing American craft beer revolution and standout amongst all the micro brands with their illustrious blue-bottle."
Although used by home brewers, mass-marketed blue bottle beers are not a new thing.
Adolphus Busch, one of the co-founders of Anheuser-Busch brewing company, also owned a glass company in Belleville, IL that manufactured pint-sized cobalt blue beer bottles starting in the mid 1880s.
But as boring as brown bottles may be, they are considered the best at protecting beer from becoming skunky, and beer in blue bottles may not be the best way to go. In fact, it could be the the most damaging shade of glass for preserving beer, according to Professorbeer.com.
Light damages beer, and blue and ultraviolet light are the most dangerous. The color of light passing through the bottle reflects the color of the bottle.
"As cool as blue looks, it doesn't completely protect the beer," says George di Piro, owner of professorbeer.com and brewmaster at C.H. Evans Brewing Company in Albany, New York. "I would hope they would be using a new beer recipe rather than a new bottle."
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Then again, says di Piro, brown bottle beers don't completely protect beer from light damage either, and that brewing companies such as Miller and Anheuser-Busch use hops formulations that also protect beer from light.
FBC beef or not, Anheuser-Busch plans to release Bud Light Platinum January 30 nationwide.