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SHOCK TOP BEERS
What kind of beer drinker are you? Do you love to try new blends and craft musings everywhere you go? Are you an IPA person or domestic-only drinker? Are you open to trying new things or do you have a single go-to flavor profile you enjoy, and you don’t venture outside of that?
If you are trying to break out of a beer flavor-rut (it can happen to the everyone), then perhaps it’s time to venture out there in the world of beer and try something new. Gasp! That isn’t always as easy as it sounds because there are just so many choices, it can seem impossible deciding on which one would be the best new one to try.
If you tend to play it safe in the beer-drinking arena, you aren’t alone. Many people have their favorite type of beer that they stick with. The problem is this is allowing an entire world of possibilities to pass you by.
Beer innovation and flavor has come a long way in the past three decades. With the rise in popular craft brands and old favorites getting new formulations, there are similar enough beers to your favorite that venturing out and trying something new doesn’t have to be so scary.
Ever passed the beer section, viewed the single bottles of beer and wondered what they were there for? Why would someone come into a grocery store and buy one bottle of beer? Have you looked closer and noticed that these aren’t the “old reliable” formulations that are fully stocked in the cooler?
These single bottles are there to give you a chance to buy one before buying a six-pack. It’s a great way to become introduced to new brands and flavors you would otherwise not spend your hard-earned money on.
Anheuser-Busch is a company that is continually trying to reinvent its beer offerings. While it remains the number one beer producer in the United States and manufactures the two of the top three beers sold every year, it still likes to develop new tastings for its fans.
The Shock Top brand of beer is one of Anheuser-Busch’s brands that explores the Belgian side of beer drinking. What is so different about this variety of beer? Why does a successful brand like Anheuser-Busch need to offer a Belgian beer?
Anheuser-Busch Take Over
When you think of Anheuser-Busch, do you envision the Clydesdale horses pulling the wagon filled with American-brewed beer? That commercial has been running on TV since the brand’s inception. However, in July 2008, the American icon of old-fashioned, working-class person’s beer was sold to a foreign company, InBev.
The sale ended the American company’s reign as the largest American-owned and operated brewing company; however, it brought together a melding of some of the biggest brand names across the globe. InBev was responsible for such powerhouse boutique-turned-international-sensations like Brahma beer, Stella Artois and Bass products.
These three brands are some of the top-selling beers outside of the United States. The acquisition of Anheuser-Busch now added to that roster the top selling brands of beer inside the United States: Bud Light and Michelob. This melding not only created a new company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, but it also established the largest brewery in the world.
Belgian Style Beer
Before the merger, Anheuser-Busch had begun dabbling in creating ales that appealed to more customers. Sure, they had cornered the market on American ale, but they were interested in expanding their base.
They also wanted to provide loyal consumers a chance to try different formulas. In 2006, they started a Belgian wheat ale blend they named, Spring Heat Spiced Wheat brewed in Colorado. It was introduced as a seasonal offering in the spring and summer, but it was so successful, they brought it back as a full-time offering in 2007.
If you aren’t familiar with Belgian wheat beer, here are some basics that might help.
The main ingredients in this type of beer are wheat and barley. This type of Belgian beer is also known as white or wheat beer depending on where you are in the world.
Wheat beer was first created during the Middle Ages. Hops weren’t readily available until the end of the Middle Ages, so the wheat beer was typically flavored with gruit, a mixture of herbs and spices. When hops started to become readily available, the fruit was replaced.
Wheat beer rose fairly quickly in popularity, mainly due to its citrus undertones and the lightness of the product. It was not as dark and heavy as a stout or port. It was the perfect drink for warm climates due to its refreshing nature.
In modern beer breweries, there are several variations of wheat beer being manufactured. The most popular ingredient to add to these blends is fruit. Most fruity beers are made using wheat beer. This type of beer is popular with light beer drinkers and those who are not always too eager to try darker ambers or stouts.
Anheuser-Busch went on to change the name of the Spring Heat Spice Wheat brand to Shock Top. It is now one of Anheuser-Busch’s most popular variations of beer offered.
Reaching New Customers
As time changed, so did tastes in beer. While there was a broad swath of the population content with Bud Light, there was a growing demand for different formulations and variations of brews.
The craft beer revolution had started, and like any successful company, Anheuser-Busch wanted to tap into this trend. Apparently, due to the vast resources of the company, it could produce a craft-type beer at a much larger percentage of the market share than other true craft companies could.
Shock Top started to be marketed with these facts in mind. It was offered as a Belgian brew, crafted to taste just like a beer that someone could have concocted in a small brewery by hand using nothing but a few drums of hops and barley. Shock Top started taking off among the younger generation of beer drinkers, especially among women.
Why this phenomenon? Women drink beer just as men do; however, men are still the primary beer drinkers in the United States and around the world. Women don’t always enjoy the bitterness of the traditional beers. Because of this, many craft beers appealed to females who wanted a fruiter undertone to suit their beer fancy.
Shock Top has delivered in this department. There have been six flavors of Shock Top introduced on the market, most targeting those beer drinkers who don’t want a lingering bitter taste. One thing Shock Top does is offer limited edition seasonal beers along with their Belgian White flavor provided year-round. The Belgian White is the original Spring Heat Spice Wheat Blend of beer.
Some of the popular seasonal offerings include:
Lemon Shandy the brand’s summertime recipe filled with lemon aromas and heavier citrus undertones. It contains 4.2 percent alcohol per volume.
Ruby Fresh is the slightly tart and tangy offering. The bitterness of a regular beer is replaced with a grapefruit-based pallet. It contains 5.2 percent alcohol per volume.
Holy Citrus is a slightly more elevated citrus flavor than traditional Lemon Shandy. It is offered in the summer primarily as a limited-edition beer.
In the past, Shock Top has come out with a favorite pumpkin blend in the fall that harkens to the pumpkin flavored coffee and creamer typical of that time of year. It’s a sweeter yet spicier blend that offers drinkers an excellent alternative to the warm pumpkin beverages.
The Staying Power
One of the features of beers like Shock Top is the variety offered, especially in the seasonal blends. These create demand that keeps people coming back season after season. The light and fruity flavors and aromas provide people with the ability to sample beer varieties that are different from traditional beers.
So they can either return to their favorites or keep trying new blends. As long as the company continues to be innovative and offer flavorings that are popular among consumers, it will continue to be enjoyed.
Customer reviews are typically favorable for Shock Top. The Belgian White Ale, which is always available, gets high marks for being light, less bitter and not too sweet. Because of this, it can be paired with any food from savory pizza to sweet apple pie.
Beer and food pairings are becoming just as popular as wine and food pairings. Many restaurants and even beer makers are informing customers of which beers go best with different types of foods.
If you are looking to branch out into a different type of beer, Shock Top Belgian White may be a little out of your comfort zone, but it won’t be disappointing. Trying new beer doesn’t mean you have to go straight from light to amber or stout. There are a variety of light ales that can offer you a choice of flavors at relatively the same cost. Why not give it a shot?