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May 20, 2006
This Bud's For Du

Germans thrilled at the prospect of hosting this year's World Cup have had their enthusiasm dimmed by the business deal made with Budweiser. In the nation that defines beer purity, the sponsorship of the American beer behemoth has set German teeth grinding:

IT IS brown-gold and alcoholic but, then, in the scathing verdict of German beer fans, so is paint thinner.

The Germans are furious that Budweiser will be the official tipple for the World Cup, which starts next month. The American lager has secured a near-monopoly of beer sales inside World Cup stadiums and within a 500m radius of the grounds, supplanting more than 1,270 domestic breweries.

And what most upsets the fans is that Budweiser — advertised as the “King of Beers” in the US — fails to meet the ancient German standards for purity, which stipulate that beer can be brewed only from malt, hops and water. Budweiser uses rice in its production process and therefore does not qualify as a beer in the German sense.

Wait ... it's Budricer?

I find it hard to disagree with the Germans on this score. The problem is that the World Cup sold the sponsorship rights to Buweiser before they decided to have Germany host the tournament. The exclusive contract means that the higher-quality German brews will not be easily found at the events. For that matter, higher-quality American brews won't be found their either. Sam Adams, which I believe is the only American beer that passes the purity tests of Germany, will be locked out.

That means they're stuck with the most corporate and uninteresting brew sold nationally in the US, and it provides an ironic twist on the world's pinnacle of soccer -- a sport that generates limited interest in the US anyway. How strange it will be to have a mediocre American product dominating the advertising for a tournament that will garner only small viewership in its home country. Budweiser should be commended for supporting the World Cup, but if it thinks it will make huge inroads in Germany, they have to be deluding themselves.

UPDATE: Am I a beer elitist? Well, perhaps. I'm no fan of the major breweries and not much inclined to lagers in general. I do like Sam Adams and Henry Weinhard's, the latter of which makes an excellent line of soft drinks as well. However, if I drink beer, I usually go for ales and stouts and tend to take my time with them.

I have a story about Henry Weinhard's lager, which may tend to discourage people from drinking it, but I preface this by saying it's one of my favorite American beers. Twenty years ago or so, my friend North Star Steve and I spent an afternoon changing the brake pads on our Datsun sedans. The work made our hands filthy with grease and grime, and we forgot to get the waterless hand cleaner. I still had most of my second bottle of Henry's, and while Steve went to look for some soap, I poured the beer over my hand -- and the grease flowed right off! I used the bottle to clean both hands and then explained what happened to Steve, who seemed rather less thirsty than he did before that.

And yes, we did work on our brakes while drinking beer, which didn't seem as stupid then as it does now. We never had a problem with our brakes, but we did always have a couple of parts left over when we were finished...

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 20, 2006 10:29 AM

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» One Point on Which the Germans Know What They Are Talking About from Cagey Mind
Say what you want about the country that occasionally decides it should conquer Europe - they know beer. And I mean real beer, not that evil creation we talked about the other day. The Germans are apparently upset that Budweiser (a near-beer if ever... [Read More]

Tracked on May 20, 2006 1:44 PM


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