Latest Beer Gimmicks: Boy Bands, Star Trek, Baseball Bat Flavor

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What will marketers think of next to entice you into picking their beer out from the staggering number of beverage options available this summer? You might be surprised.

Here are a few of the odd and innovative new ways brewers are trying to attract the interest (and thirst) of beer drinkers:

Americana
This summer, Budweiser is being sold in limited edition “patriotic packaging,” with the red, white and blue of the American flag featured prominently on cans and bottles—and with a portion of sales benefiting the families of soldiers killed or disabled in service.

A group of craft brewers is also involved in a charity benefitting the families of American service members. Through the Hops for Heroes project, nine small breweries are selling a beer called Homefront IPA through the summer. Sales help Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that provides emergency aid to soldiers and their families. All of which is terrific. But part of Homefront IPA’s recipe is basically a gimmick that attempts to give the brew a connection to America’s pastime. Chris Ray, a former pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, teamed up with the Fremont Brewing Company two years ago to create the first Homefront IPA, a hoppy ale that’s aged in unfinished maple Louisville Slugger bats for three weeks.

(MORE: After PBR: Will the Next Great Hipster Beer Please Stand Up?)

What do the bats add to the beer’s taste? Not much of anything, Ray told ESPN:

“I’m not sure if it adds a ton of flavor, but it ties it into baseball and gives it a unique twist,” Ray said. “It might add a little bit of flavor, but maple is a hard wood — that’s why they use it for bats — so there’s not a whole lot of absorbing going on. There are a lot of beers that age on oak chips and toasted oak chips, so we just thought if it added a little flavor, great. If not, it’s a nice story.”

Presumably, the story didn’t hurt in getting Louisville Slugger on board as a sponsor for the project. Now that the brew is made and the beer-scented bats have served their purpose, they’re going up for online auction starting on June 3. Bids will be accepted for nine different bats (one from each participating brewer), and auctions will be closed after ten days.

Fruity Flavors
Bud Light Lime has proved to be such a sales hit that you just knew more sweet, fruit-flavored beers would come. Anheuser-Busch InBev’s followup to Bud Light Lime is Straw-Ber-Rita, a “malt beverage that blends the refreshment of Bud Light Lime with the taste of an authentic strawberry margarita” introduced this spring.

(MORE: Moonshine Is Growing in the U.S., and Big Whiskey Wants a Taste)

Meanwhile, Shock Top, a brand also owned by AB-InBev, has rolled out a Honeycrisp Apple Wheat beer made with sweet cider, as well as a Lemon Shandy (lemonade-beer concoction). In fact, CNBC notes that 2013 could shape up as the “summer of the shandy,” as large brewers such as Molson Coors and SABMiller also push shandies of their own.

Pop Culture
People like to drink beer while listening to music or watching TV, so why not officially brand brews with the folks who are on stage or on the boob tube? That’s exactly what happened with Trooper, a new beer made in collaboration with iconic heavy metal band Iron Maiden, and Iron Throne, a blonde ale with a “Game of Thrones” theme. Brewers in Canada will soon be selling a beer for Trekkies: Vulcan Ale.

The latest, arguably oddest beer-pop culture pairing is Mmmhops, a pale ale created in a partnership with the boy band Hanson, of “Mmmbop” fame. Make that former boy band Hanson, because the Hanson brothers are all old enough now to be able to buy beer. Businessweek reported that the beer was featured in “The Hangover III,” though Mmmhops won’t be available for sale until the fall.

(MORE: What’s with All the Offensive Alcohol Names?)

“Just Beer”
The range of beer options has exploded in recent years. The selection and taste has both arguably grown overcomplicated, and critics have made the case that all sorts of beers have become too hoppy, or too heavy, or too something. As a backlash to the gimmicks of the modern craft beer movement, Alan Newman, who created the Magic Hat brand in Vermont, has come up with an anti-gimmick gimmick: Just Beer.

“The Just Beer Project’s mission is to deliver beer drinkers un-complicated, world-class craft brews that are delightful in their simplicity – nothing too complicated or exotic and with all natural ingredients,” Newman writes on the website of his new venture. The project’s first “un-complicating” beer is called, simply, Just IPA.

8 comments
Neondancer
Neondancer

My favorite beer gimmick is good tasting beer.  Luckily I live in Denver which means I can't walk two blocks without finding a bar or liquor store with good beers available.

blatchy
blatchy

And I love Magic Hat's thought process: we stopped being a craft brewer years ago so, instead of changing the product to reflect what the consumer is demanding (and critcis can scoff but public demand drives the market), we'll do nothing, call it Just IPA, and sell you the same underwhelming beer we but with  BRAND NEW APPEAL!

Uh huh

blatchy
blatchy

Here's the secret for selling beer:  have a decent business plan, some way to distribute it...and just consistently make good beer.  

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

blittle1
blittle1

"...critics have made the case that all sorts of beers have become too hoppy, or too heavy, or too something.".

Yep, I wish the traditional UK pub ale was better represented nowdays, as well as the Oktoberfest lagers. I love IPAs, but it seems like everything taste like liquid pine tree...guess the industry decided to reinvent beer for the US market.   


j.r.lakeside
j.r.lakeside

Budweiser ... That is ironic since it is no longer an American company. Just another foreign company securing freshwater rights. Beware America they are after our most precious resource and we are paying them to steal it.

TheHoppyRunner
TheHoppyRunner

First of the all, the name Budweiser and type of lager started in Czechoslovakia/Czech area. Americans purchased the name and changed the recipe. 2nd this Suck. If you want American beer-drink American craft beer.

MarkDavidson1
MarkDavidson1

You can find the best beer deals this summer at www.SaveOnBrew.Com, by the way...

BorisIII
BorisIII

Become all you ever wanted to be.  All you have to do is buy are product for the low price of 19.99.  It will work we even swear it will work.