I quoted "Canadian," because Alexander Keith's is brewed in the US by Anheuser-Busch InBev in St. Louis. The brewery was established in Nova Scotia, in 1820, but it's now owned by ABI property Labatt. So, as one might imagine, I was a touch skeptical about the quality.
They did, however, send me beer. And anyone who sends me beer gets a writeup.
First, the beer (they sent three):
Lager: It was astringent and thin, with no real flavor to speak of except a kind of bitterness. I'm spoiled by Yuengling, but this was at least crisp.
Pale: It was not noticeably hopped, generally devoid of character and lifeless. It had that medicinal taste common to macrobrews, but I'm not enough of beer scientist to understand what causes it.
Brown: I guess it was the most interesting, but not the best. It had a cloying caramel flavor, but still minimal body. The color was a nice dark brown, but I didn't like the flavor at all.
Okay, so nothing to get excited about. Wikipedia tells me that their IPA is not very hoppy or strong, but is a huge seller in Canada, and I would have enjoyed at least trying that. Perhaps once distribution is running at full speed.
From a marketing perspective, they definitely attempted to make this foray into the craft market. For one thing, they reached out to craft beer bloggers. For another, look at the design and swag (I'll use the picture Jon shot at The Brew Site, since it was much better than mine:
Shock Top, the American Ale, the attempt to make Michelob something craft-like... all of these efforts were designed to get ABI into the American craft beer market in a way their rival, MillerCoors, has been able to manage with Blue Moon and its other properties. And now we've got a story about a Scotsman in Canada, and a virtual tasting with the brewer. The problem is the beer is bad, at least to a palette expecting craft beer flavor, and that's been the problem with all of ABI's craft-esque offerings.
I really admire the marketing plan, and I certainly appreciate being sent beer, but right now I just hope those ideas catch on more with craft breweries, because Alexander Keith's fails to deliver on its unspoken promise to be an authentic brand with a distinct taste and style.
|Clearly, busty wench costumes constitute "beer marketing" in all cultures.|