UPDATE: Budweiser wants you to taste what beer was like during Prohibition

11/10/17 02:41 PM EST

By Charles Passy

Facing competition from craft brews, the brand rolls out a retro-minded reserve lager

The bottle:Budweiser 1933 Repeal Reserve Amber Lager (http://www.budweiser.com/en/our-beers/1933-repeal-reserve.html), around $10 for a six-pack.

The back story: Love it or hate it, Budweiser hardly needs any introduction. Dubbed the "granddaddy of cheap American macro lager (https://vinepair.com/articles/10-biggest-beer-brands-world-2017/)" by one beer review site, it consistently ranks among the top-selling brews in the world. But in an era when drinkers turn increasingly to more distinctively flavored craft brews, the brand faces clear challenges. Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BT) , its parent company, noted a sales decline for Budweiser (and Bud Light) in its latest earnings report (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ab-inbev-profit-up-hurricanes-crimp-beer-sales-2017-10-26). And industry experts warn there could be difficulty stemming the tide.

Which perhaps explains why the brand is willing to look beyond its flagship product. Recently, Budweiser rolled out this reserve beer -- made from a recipe that the company says dates back to the pre-Prohibition era when founder Adolphus Busch "created and brewed a special Amber Lager for his friends and local community to enjoy."

The beer is distinctive in other ways: It's boozier than your traditional Bud -- coming in at 6.1% ABV (alcohol by volume) versus 5% for the flagship variety. And it comes packaged in a retro-style "stubby" bottle.

The Budweiser team says their goal with the release of the reserve beer is to show how the brand, even with its century-plus history, can evolve. "We look to surprise our audience," says Ricardo Marques, a Budweiser vice president.

What we think about it: Budweiser is not exactly our go-to brew -- we ascribe to the belief that it tastes more like beer-flavored water (https://vinepair.com/articles/budweiser-tastes-like-nothing-thats-makes-beautiful/) than actual, well, beer.

But this reserve stuff? It's certainly got more character -- with a subtle nutty flavor and just the right degree of bitterness. While not as complex as many a craft beer, it's a tastier alternative to plain ol' Bud.

How to enjoy it: Budweiser says it isn't by accident that the beer was released near the end of the year. With its fuller flavor, the amber lager is a good complement to the big and bold tastes associated with holiday meals. Still, in our view, the beer also works fine as a stand-alone sip.

-Charles Passy; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

11-10-17 1441ET

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