Meet the three ‘winners’ of Budweiser Project 12
Budweiser challenged their twelve brewmasters to create a unique beer recipe fit to bear the king’s name. Six were chosen to be brewed, but only the top three are making their way to public gullets.
Each beer from Project 12 is brewed with the same propriety yeast as all Budweiser, so the backbone of them tastes very familiar. And unlike my apparent photography skills, which are the benchmark for consistency, these new products are all quite different. It was dealers choice after the yeast, and they all found something different to do.
Batch No. 63118 is a deep-golden pilsner from St. Louis. Because the original brewery was in STL, brewmaster Jim Bicklein opted to use ingredients that would have been around back in the late 1800s. That means Hallertau and Tettnag hops, both of which are from Adolphus Busch’s homeland of Germany. It ends up being slightly sweet with grain flavors, and all around pretty malty. Of the three, this tastes the most like the original Bud, so if that’s your style, this is right up your alley. Be prepared though, it’s 6% ABV and you can taste it.
The second option is Batch No. 91406 by way of Los Angeles. This deep amber lager is the brainchild of brewmaster Bryan Sullivan. He stepped a little further outside of the box by using a caramel malt that beefs the beer up a bit. It’s also brewed with 4 different types of hops, giving it more character than we’ve come to expect from Bud Heavy. It makes the beer crisp and easy to drink even though it’s also 6% ABV. 91406 is smooth to the point where I could down a six pack or so without a second thought. Of course I only drink responsibly though, so maybe just the one sixer.
Last and obviously not least, because it’s my favorite, is Batch No. 23185 from Williamsburg, VA. This is the biggest departure in the sampler pack from the standard. Piggybacking on the trendiness of barrel-aging, Daniel Westmoreland aged this beer on bourbon barrel staves. He then tossed in a hint of vanilla for good measure, because who doesn’t like vanilla? It picked up some oakiness from the wood, but not overpoweringly so like beers such as Dragon’s Milk. Subtle, smooth, and drinkable seems to be the theme of the entire project, and this one his that on the head.
All in all, the sampler pack is what you would expect from Budweiser. The flavors have changed, and grown a little, but you aren’t going to get a flavor punch to the face. While many lament the fact that macro beers aren’t jam packed full of flavor, that’s not what the market at-large is looking to drink. AB knows this which is why their flavors are smoothed out and fairly subtle. This was a good and interesting upgrade, but don’t expect it to replace your favorite craft beers.
Bud is still seeking feedback on the beers, and went so far as to stick a QR code right on the package to encourage people. I don’t know if the intention is to get legitimate customer thoughts, which I would assume, or just to keep the conversation going. In either case, it seems like a brilliant move.