Is it expensive to make beer have taste?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by beerPOS, Feb 26, 2014.

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  1. beerPOS

    beerPOS Initiate (0) Feb 26, 2014 Ohio

    I am new here and I don't know anyplace else I can go to get a straight answer to my question.

    I do know the implications of ABV and IBU when I shop for beer. I typically make buying decisions based on IBU first and ABV second. I appreciate those beers that state the product's IBU -- but, unfortunately, most beer packaging does not include that info.

    Be that as it may, my question pertains to the taste of beer -- specifically and unfortunately mass marketed beer. I tried Bud Platinum and it is an OK product, but it doesn't have very much taste -- but the ABV is higher than most "light" beers and apparently "6%" is the big selling factor, perhaps along with the pretty blue bottle the beer comes in. I'd say the beer lacks in the area of taste and "distinction" -- but it does have a bit higher alcohol content, which does nothing for the taste as far as I am concerned.

    Now along comes MillerCoors "Fortune" beer -- somehow priced at $12.99 (on special) for a 12 pack. At that price (when a 6-pack was nearly $8.00), I decided to give Fortune a try. It has great packaging, the beer is attractive if you drink it in a glass, it has no negative smell that I can discern, it is 6.9% ABV and god knows what its IBU is (it would seem to be less than 10, if you asked me).

    I drank two bottles rather quickly last night, the strength of this beer (ABV 6.9%) means a bit of a beer buzz comes on quicker with this brew than with Bud Light Platinum. Yawn.

    This beer -- the total package -- looks expensive, but is fairly flavorless.

    Isn't it possible to produce a good looking, wonderfully packaged beer that actually has some real taste and that is cost competitive? Can't a beer that retails for $7.99 a six pack actually have an IBU over 20? Or is the reason these new "flagship" brews just seem to be simultaneously "strong" (a high relative alcohol content) but "watery tasting" (a relatively low IBU) because to increase the IBU would mean the beer would become way more expensive and hence "unattractive?"

    In other words, are beers from ABI and MillerCoors destined to keep having ever higher alcohol contents but ever lower or thinner actual taste? I had [unreasonably] high hopes for Fortune, primarily because I thought Batch19 "wasn't bad" what with an IBU of 26. I had hoped Fortune would be a step up from Batch 19, in other words.

    Color me disappointed and wondering if there is some "secret" to cranking up the IBU's of some mass market beers that either eludes AB and MC or somehow would price the products into extinction.

    Why can't we have a good tasting Platinum or Fortune -- why do we instead keep finding ourselves with ever stronger and stronger beers that taste weaker and weaker.

    I just can't figure out why that there is so little taste in the new "super" beers from the majors, unless the cost of creating them with more taste would price them out of the market.

    Can anyone explain this, in real, clear English?

    New slogan: "Fortune, the new premium beer from MIllerCoors: It doesn't taste like much, but it gets you there faster!"

    What a world.
  2. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Have you ever heard of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale? I think it's sold in Ohio.
    Providence, Berg77, Omnium and 8 others like this.
  3. Rekrule

    Rekrule Initiate (0) Nov 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Most of the beer drinking public wants a good looking wonderfully packaged beer with little taste. Bud, Miller and Coors are in the business to give those people what they want and they do it in mind blowing fashion with huge sales figures. We are the minority by far.
  4. Danny1217

    Danny1217 Initiate (0) Jul 15, 2011 Florida

    It's extremely cheap to increase IBU. BMC don't increase their IBU because that's not something that most of their customers would likely appreciate.

    SN Torpedo goes for $7.99/sixer here and it has 65 IBU and some good flavor to back up that bitterness.
  5. Givemebeer

    Givemebeer Initiate (0) Apr 6, 2013 Vermont

    IBUs can be really misleading. And yea as everyone keeps saying... Sierra Nevada products.
    jRocco2021 likes this.
  6. ZagZagg

    ZagZagg Initiate (0) May 13, 2008 New Jersey

    I would give Sierra Nevada or Sam Adams (Boston Beer Company) a go, and back off of IBU counts & packaging. They mean next to nothing in the grand scheme of things.
  7. brewsader

    brewsader Initiate (0) Dec 7, 2012 New York

    it's more expensive to make fancy packaging and air commercials during football games than it is to make a tasty and enjoyable beer.
  8. JG-90

    JG-90 Initiate (0) Nov 29, 2012 New Jersey


    Bud Light Platinum was created to taste like BL (for people who like BL) but to have higher ABV.

    These companies are not looking to "improve" the taste (they sell so much fuckin' beer, millions of people like the taste they already got). The consumers of these products want a familiar taste with a higher ABV.
  9. willbm3

    willbm3 Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2010 Massachusetts

    More expensive than making beer with no taste, but not very expensive at all. Just look at Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams. Bud Light Platinum and MC Fortune aren't really different beers - it's more about marketing and capturing a different segment of the public. Those drinks are aimed at spirits drinkers as well as their current customers that want a more "sophisticated" beverage. They're selling the "experience" of a "premium" beer when in reality, you're just paying more for what is more or less the same product, albeit with a higher alcohol content.

    Like @Rekrule said, the vast majority of the beer drinking public doesn't want a beer with "taste."
  10. beerPOS

    beerPOS Initiate (0) Feb 26, 2014 Ohio

    Thanks for the answers -- I do drink SN and Sam Adam's products and a bunch of beers I had never heard of before that Costco now sells. The best answer to me was: "(. . .millions of people like the taste they already got). The consumers of these products want a familiar taste with a higher ABV."

    And, I used IBU as a generalized "measure" of part of the flavor of a beer. I find, generally speaking, that I like beers with an IBU above 30. I've picked up one that says "IBU 100," and I do wonder, having not tasted it yet, if it will just be bitter for the sake of being bitter -- not actually tasting better.
  11. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    What those companies want to do is create a beer that costs them pennies a barrel more to brew but can be sold for $1.00 more a 6 pack.
    JG-90 and offthelevel_bytheplumb like this.
  12. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    IBU's are created from hops and hops are pretty expensive.
    But, that does not mean that you can't have a hoppy and inexpensive beer.

    Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, New Belgium and Lagunitas make some high quality, hoppy, and inexpensive beer around $8 a six pack.

    Also, high IBU count doesn't always mean a hoppier beer, but that's another post for a few months down the road.
  13. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    IBU isn't a good measure to continue using all by itself. It's quite possible to have a beer with higher IBU that has less bitterness to it than a second beer with a lower IBU. The flavors in beer come from the malts, the hops, the yeast and, sometimes other ingredients that contribute flavors, e.g., coffee, raspberries, etc. you'll want to start exploring the beer styles described in the beer 101 part of this site.
    jRocco2021 and LeRose like this.
  14. DerrickW

    DerrickW Initiate (0) Jan 17, 2013 Georgia

    What beer did you pick up? Btw, welcome and cheers!
  15. JohnnyMc

    JohnnyMc Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2012 Ohio

    I think Lagunitas is PROOF that you can have awesome tasting beer at cheaper prices.
  16. loafinaround

    loafinaround Initiate (0) Jul 16, 2011 New York

    well, but lagunitas is inexpensive vs many craft brews, not relative to BMC.
    It's all mass marketing. Flavorless = not threatening. Most people want and expect "barely beer". Many never even HAD a flavorful beer. It probably would be rather disarming to many average beer drinkers.
  17. paulys55

    paulys55 Initiate (0) Aug 2, 2010 Pennsylvania

    It seems like you're answer would be 'drink craft bee'' yet you want it to come from Bud/Miller/Coors. I'm confused. It would be like saying, "I listen to pop music but i'm looking for a sound where people actually play instruments and their voices aren't constantly run through autotune?"
    #17 paulys55, Feb 26, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014
  18. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,890) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    The BMC companies brew beers for the mass market that (they think) wants light-flavored beers. Those beers are produced with light-flavored malts and barely-bitter hops to come up with what we all think are tasteless beers. The cost of the light-flavored malts and the barely-bitter hops are significantly lower to the BMC brewers because of quantity purchasing as well as growing these ingredients themselves.

    But the craft brewers choose to brew a beer with flavor that you and I like, so malts and hops that have more flavor are used. However. the purchasing of these ingredients cannot be accomplished with the same economy of scale as what the large brewers enjoy. A craft brewer can brew a pilsner that would have the same ingredients as a Bud, Miller or Coors (and many craft brewers do make a quality pilsner), but they cannot make that same beer at the same cost.

    One additional note: Each of the BMC breweries do make 'craft' beers "with flavor" by owning breweries that operate under other names. (Goose Island is owned by AB-InBev, for example.)
  19. jageraholic

    jageraholic Disciple (329) Sep 16, 2009 Massachusetts

    Just bought a 6 pack of founders centennial ipa for $8.99. Good amount of great flavor.
    absyrd1 likes this.
  20. Jay_Ulreich

    Jay_Ulreich Initiate (0) Jan 15, 2014 Indiana

    you do realize that BMC beers are the last place you should be looking for IBUs and taste, right?
  21. shnsajax

    shnsajax Initiate (0) Jul 2, 2013 Idaho

    Sucks can be had for $9.50. Guessing Fresh Squeezed will be close to the same. It's worth the extra $2.00 or so. Or .33 per beer.
  22. offthelevel_bytheplumb

    offthelevel_bytheplumb Devotee (402) Aug 19, 2013 Illinois

    The real way that these brewers are cutting costs is by substituting a portion of the malt bill in favor of the use of adjuncts. While an increase in the use of noble hops would make those beers better in my opinion, it's the adjuncts that really tone down the intensity in the flavor. Here's a good read for ya...

    Oh, and by the way...
    Loganyoung likes this.
  23. JG-90

    JG-90 Initiate (0) Nov 29, 2012 New Jersey

    Right on, and the selling point is higher ABV. I didn't mean to insinuate in my post that BMC is doing this solely for the benefit of their customers :grinning:
  24. marquis

    marquis Champion (802) Nov 20, 2005 England

    Using good quality ingredients (which excludes a lot of domestic barley) with careful recipe formulation and brewing it's amazing what can be achieved taste wise. Add to this cask conditioning and a 5% brew can pass as one of 8%.
  25. NHhomebrewguy

    NHhomebrewguy Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2012 New Hampshire

    ^^^ Hit the nail on the head!
    People drink BMC to get drunk, not to enjoy the flavor. BMC making this new, higher ABV, beer is idiotic if you ask me. Why would you want your consumers getting drunk faster? This means they drink/buy less.
    It you want something with flavor that doesn't cost a lot look in to brewing your own. It's fun, you can make a good product with practice and it's cheaper than any BMC product!!!
    And don't you dare tell me BMC is a good "lawn mower beer". The last thing I want when I come in from doing yard work is a BMC beer. Give me something with low ABV with flavor like a saison, pale ale or a good pilsner.
    Good luck and have fun in your future craft beer experiences. Cheers!
    Loganyoung and CalgaryFMC like this.
  26. marquis

    marquis Champion (802) Nov 20, 2005 England

    Strangely enough, many people drink BMC simply because they like it.It's not a good idea to confuse personal taste with what's good or bad.To most people BMC is better beer , they just don't share your opinion.Or mine to be honest.
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  27. NHhomebrewguy

    NHhomebrewguy Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2012 New Hampshire

    I was just speaking to the OP, not beer drinker's in general. I understand what you mean though.
  28. BEERschlitz

    BEERschlitz Initiate (0) Oct 13, 2013 Michigan

    This whole thread is just confusing to me...
    JxExM, PSU_Mike and MWilt like this.
  29. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    A good job to all the BAs who responded to this point since no one seems to have ripped the OP a new one for mentioning that he actually drank BMC products.
    ericj551, Berg77 and Hop-Droppen-Roll like this.
  30. WankelEngine

    WankelEngine Initiate (0) Mar 28, 2011 Illinois

    Thank you! No one else seems to touch on this, but IBU does not equal perceived bitterness. Some stouts can have an IBU of 60+ but taste less bitter than a 20 IBU pale ale. Bitterness is influenced by much more than just the oil content of hops.
    Patric_Lawrence likes this.
  31. NCMonte

    NCMonte Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2014 North Carolina

    I believe the more difficult trick is in getting the same taste over and over again. Finding the same ingredients of the same quality would be the real interesting trick.
  32. sicilian

    sicilian Initiate (0) Sep 30, 2008 Florida

    Yes in comparison to AAL Mass Produced beers
  33. Hop-Droppen-Roll

    Hop-Droppen-Roll Initiate (0) Nov 5, 2013 Minnesota

  34. DrinkAnchorSteam

    DrinkAnchorSteam Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2014 Pennsylvania

    As a Pennsylvanian I can't help but be jealous of everyone in here citing 6 packs under $10.
  35. Jirin

    Jirin Initiate (0) Apr 28, 2013 Massachusetts

    Also IBUs aren't the only measure of taste. Bud isn't flavorless because it doesn't have a lot of hops, it's flavorless because it was designed around being soft on the palate.

    Do they? I think there are more people who prefer it because they're used to it and it's cheaper than who really tried both BMC and craft side by side over a long period of time and decided they like BMC more.
  36. marquis

    marquis Champion (802) Nov 20, 2005 England

    Craft is actually cheaper than BMC here and people still plump for them or Eurolagers. My son has been pretty well exposed to a wide variety of beer (I've seen to that) yet he sticks to stuff like Peroni and dare I mention it , Corona. My other son I'm happy to say has a a taste like mine.
  37. Johnny_Muir

    Johnny_Muir Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2014 New Jersey

    How do you know thats what they want, because thats what sells? Not too many people seem to be satisfied with our two-party system of government, but thats what goes dont it? A lot of times, the ubiquitousness of something has little or nothing to do with what people really want, especially when most people dont even know what else is out there (and certainly arent encouraged to think outside the box by the BMC crowd).
    NHhomebrewguy likes this.
  38. Rekrule

    Rekrule Initiate (0) Nov 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Funny because McDonald's sales are astronomical and everyone knows steak exists. Why are there so many threads here about how to convert BMC drinkers? It's not as easy as giving them any beer you like and all of sudden they realize there are more choices.

    There isn't a single beer drinker in Mass who doesn't know SA and Harpoon exist and very few that haven't had or tried the Boston Lager and IPA. Yet the overwhelming majority still drink their AAL. Why?
  39. Johnny_Muir

    Johnny_Muir Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2014 New Jersey

    Its cheap.
  40. Rekrule

    Rekrule Initiate (0) Nov 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    That's great simple answer to explain it all away but it just doesn't hold water. Genny Cream is much cheaper and Dundee Honey Brown is about the same price. These people aren't drinking these instead. A fifth of gordons or cossack vodka is even cheaper. They aren't going there either. You don't think that BMC puts out a product people want, you are wrong. I can introduce to a lot of people who, despite having tried some craft options will choose bud light every.single.time because they like it better. These people are every beer drinker I know in my life. My wife hated beer, but will tolerate Coors Light when needed because "it tastes better than anything you drink". Shocking.
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