Why, you ask, does Bruce look bemused in this picture? It’s because he’s reading the neck ring on a bottle of Michelob Pale Ale. The copy on this label reads as follows:
“This quintessential English-style ale is brewed with Pacific Northwest Hallertau and Saaz as well as Tettnang hops from southern Germany. Dry-hopping the ale during maturation with fresh Saaz hops creates a unique hop character.”
Now here’s a case where Anheuser-Busch could really show what its brewers are capable of by brewing a kick-ass pale ale with the marketing weight of the Michelob brand name behind it. And they could do it to style (which, according to their marketing copy, is their intent), or they could create their own signature pale ale. Instead, they made an unfocused mongrel beer that confuses English, German, American and Czech elements.
There is no “English Style Ale” that uses Hallertau, Tettnang, and Saaz hops. The former two originate in Germany, and as such their domain is German lagers, whereas Saaz is the quintessential Czech Pilsner hop. That’s not to say that these hops can’t be added to ale, but to do so and call it “English Style” is a jab at the intelligence of consumers, not to mention the pride of the English.
So what did Michelob do? Did they actually brew this ale with every hop in the microbrew toolbox, or did they make a more-or-less normal pale ale and drop these noble names for beer cred?
I know it sounds like I’m nitpicking on a triviality, but it kinda pisses me off. Maybe this sort of marketing spin would have been forgiveable ten years ago, when consumer familiarity with craft beer was considerably thinner, but to foist it on the market as it stands today demonstrates that A-B still doesn’t get it and probably never will.
I didn’t taste the Michelob Pale Ale, because it’s warm at the time of writing. I’ll bang out a review later. Beeradvocate.com, however, has plenty of takes on this beer from people who are better at reviewing than myself.