Budweiser was introduced in 1876 when company founder Adolphus Busch set out to create the United States' first truly national beer brand – brewed to be universally popular and transcend regional tastes — so it's no doubt still smarting from Bloomberg Businessweek's cover story on "The Plot to Destroy America's Beer" (sample quote: "Many people in the U.S. aren’t thrilled that a foreign company now owns Budweiser, America’s beer").
Anheuser Busch InBev is busy with another challenge. Bud's twelve American brewmasters just wrapped the Project 12 Beer contest, for which they "were challenged with coming up with a distinctive beer recipe worthy of the Budweiser name." The three winning beers, named for the zipcodes in which they were developed (Los Angeles, St. Louis and Williamsburg, Virginia), are now rolling out across the U.S. on a limited basis in a 12-bottle package.
The project, which launched in the spring, is described by AB InBev as the biggest focus group in the brand's history, "maybe even beer history," thanks to a summer-long sampling program that invited the public to vote for their favorite brew — re-engaging beer-drinkers with the brand and inspiring its brewmasters. The bigger challenge now, of course, is building on that momentum. That's why Budweiser is spinning one of the Project 12 brews into a new beer called Black Crown.
Budweiser Brand VP Rob McCarthy confirmed the details to Ad Age:
"Black Crown's formula will be modeled after a limited-edition beer made earlier this year at AB InBev's Los Angeles brewery. The brew was part of "Project 12," in which brewmasters at 12 AB InBev breweries created their own small-batch "tribute" beers, each with a distinct style. "Though originally created in L.A., it's a beer born out of the collaboration of all of Budweiser's 12 brewmasters," McCarthy said. "The beer is an amber lager that is a little darker than Budweiser, but is flavorful and like Bud very drinkable."
As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes, Budweiser Black Crown joins a bumper crop of new beers that are black or amber including "Beck's Black Jewel, Michelob Black Bock, Busch Black Light Lager and Rolling Rock Black Rock all boast 6 percent alcohol by volume, according to their labels. That's higher than any of these brews currently — like Bud Light Platinum, which A-B launched to strong sales earlier this year."
Below, more on Budweiser's Project 12: