“Anheuser-Bush InBev is reaching back nearly 100 years in hopes of giving its struggling Budweiser brand a boost. A limited-edition brew called 1933 Repeal Reserve Amber Lager hit shelves this week, claiming inspiration from a recipe used before Prohibition began in 1920.
Pre-prohibition style beers have been on the scene for years, made mostly by craft brewers. Anheuser-Busch, which was acquired by InBev in 2008, has been around since 1852, giving the brewer a link to recipes its founders once used. The new brew is based on an amber lager Adolphus Busch sold in the St. Louis area before Prohibition arrived in 1920. It has 6.1 percent alcohol versus 5 percent of regular Bud—and is described as having a “light, hoppy aroma and a rich caramel-malt taste.”
The marketing and packaging includes a shorter bottle known as a “stubby”, a partnership with Lyft, who on Wednesday offered New Yorkers rides in five Bud-branded cars in Manhattan meant to resemble 1930s-era vehicles. The special rides, available for sign up at Lyft’s website, will include tours of landmarks and neighborhoods with links to Prohibition. A TV ad by VaynerMedia shows the brew being poured in a modern-day speakeasy.
The limited run is timed to with the holidays and the Dec. 5 anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, which came to an end on that date in 1933 when Utah became the 36th state to approve the 21st Amendment.
AB InBev is not the first big brewer to give Prohibition-themed marketing a try. MillerCoors in 2013 ran a Repeal Day campaign for its Batch 19 brand that was crafted from a pre-Prohibition recipe. But the brew was later discontinued. A MillerCoors spokeswoman said the brewer is “focusing on other priorities.”
Why it’s hot: This is a pretty cool activation by AB, however it seems slightly desperate/gimmicky to remain relevant in a category that they are struggling in.