It would be a stretch to say that the North American beer world has been abuzz since the announcement that Anheuser-Busch would soon be coming out with an ale marketed under the Budweiser banner, but it has been talked about a bit. Perhaps more than a bit. And now it’s here.
Budweiser American Ale is described on the label as a “rich, amber-colored ale” with a “robust flavor and a distinctive, hoppy finish,” which sounds interesting enough. It also sounds like a massive departure from the more muted taste profile of its label mates, Budweiser and Bud Light, but to the same degree, Sam Adams Light has little in common with Sam Adams Utopias, the strongest beer in the world. So let us ignore for a minute prejudiced preconceptions and see what this new ale tastes like.
It is most definitely amber, that’s for sure, and boasts an attractive and welcoming aroma redolent with fruit, mostly cherry and plum, backed by faint underpinnings of citrus and chocolate. In the body, it has a smooth, fruity-chocolate start leading to an off-dry body with nutty and fruity notes alongside hints of caramel and a very subtle suggestion of allspice, some light tannins and a most modest hoppiness. The hop rises somewhat in the finish to dry it further and leave a soft, lingering, nutshell bitterness on the tongue.
Tasted alongside a regular Bud, two bottles of which A-B delivered to me along with an equal number of American Ales, it certainly does taste “robust,” but I don’t know if it would rate the same descriptive when sampled against, say, a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Anchor Liberty. That said, I can easily see it finding favor among mainstream lager drinkers who are interested in branching out to something different, which no doubt is the role it was developed to fill.
One interesting observation, which I noticed when comparing the labels of the original Bud and the American Ale, is that the new beer is lacking the much vaunted “Born On” dating of its older sibling. Which makes me wonder if A-B is ever so slightly worried about stocks of American Ale languishing in stores and bar refrigerators.