Big Beer has a problem: We’re not drinking enough of it. To combat this, conglomerates like Anheuser-Busch InBev and Molson Coors are throwing everything at us to see what sticks. Unfortunately, to me, the newest options feel pretty stale.
“Michelob Ultra is making dreams come true for keto dieters,” Marissa Gainsburg writes on WomensHealthMag.com. Michelob Ultra Infusions, a line of fruit-infused light beers, touts “real exotic fruit and natural flavors.”
“Say hello to your new favorite spring drink,” Maya McDowell writes in Delish.
And, from Brittany Bennet in Bustle, “Spritzer style beverages with a hint of fruit are all the rage.” She describes Michelob Ultra Infusions Lime & Prickly Pear Cactus as “perfectly in tune with the taste of summer.”
Personally, my summer has never tasted like prickly pear cactus. (I’m actually allergic to pears.) But here’s the bigger problem: The promotion and press coverage for these drinks are alienating to anyone who isn’t a health-conscious, self-conscious woman on a diet.
Keeping things keto is great (I guess?) for those who know what that entails. And I’ll psychoanalyze myself enough to admit that maybe I’m envious of Brittany, Marissa, and Maya for having that low-carb, low-cal willpower while I reach for a calorie-rich IPA. But I don’t see many men’s publications covering this “fairly guilt-free” fruity infusion.
And then there’s this horrific bit, from Michelob Ultra itself: “Now you can have a delicious flavored beer and eat your cake, too (after your spin class).”
Like the myriad chocolate commercials that endlessly depict women as either sexual objects or deviants, or ads where beautiful women eat “light and fit” yogurt while men eat cookies and donuts, Michelob Ultra Infusions is telling me girls who wanna have fun probably feel bad about it.
Marketing like this has a fruit-infused, trickle-down effect. It reinforces negative stereotypes about women, what we drink, and why we drink it. It’s bad for us, and it’s bad for business.
In June 2018, at the Beer Institute’s annual meeting, Bridget Brennan, CEO of the Female Factor, told beer industry members that women make up to 80 percent of spending decisions in male-female households. And guess what? A lot of us buy beer.
That same month, Brewers Association economist Bart Watson crunched some numbers and posited that women are getting into craft beer at nearly the same rate as men. From 2015 to 2018, craft beer consumption among women was up 2 percent, and overall craft consumption was up around 5 percent nationwide. “From 2015 to 2018, craft has added ~14.7 million drinkers, of which a bit below half (~6.6M) were women,” Watson writes. It’s not quite 50-50, but it’s certainly significant.
Why, then, is the world’s leading beer corporation resorting to such reductive marketing?
(Oh, and regarding Michelob Ultra’s claim that its Infusions are made with “real exotic fruit,” anyone from the Caribbean, parts of South America, or other equatorial destinations worldwide might argue that these fruits are not “exotic.” They are just fruits.)
Brewery Healthcare Bill Advances in Connecticut
A bill that would allow employees of small and mid-sized breweries in Connecticut access to healthcare benefits advanced to the House last Thursday, Brewbound reports.
If passed, House Bill 7260 would allow the Connecticut Brewers Guild to offer healthcare benefits to small and mid-sized craft breweries.
Last Wednesday, March 13, 2019, craft beer pioneer Anchor Brewing of San Francisco became one of the first U.S. breweries to unionize.
These efforts are meaningful beyond their individual states or breweries. Both show that businesses and legislators are taking steps toward ensuring fair treatment of brewery workers. This is essential to any growing industry, and I’m here for it.
Beer Company Boards – Now With Women!
On March 18, 2019, Boston Beer announced the appointment of Meghan Joyce to its board of directors. As Brewbound reports, this marks the third time a woman has been appointed to the brewery’s board of directors since the board was established in 1995. The second was Jim Koch’s wife, Cynthia Fisher, and the first was Rhonda Kallman, who co-founded the company.
On Tuesday, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced plans to add three more women to its board as well.
I am always happy to congratulate someone who gets a job they want. But, as Heather Greene, whiskey expert and author of “Whiskey Distilled: A Populist Guide to the Water of Life” recently posited in VinePair, “Are women supposed to be inspired just because another woman is in the job?”
Meghan Joyce is 34 years old. She’s a regional general manager at Uber, previously served as a senior policy advisor for the United States Department of the Treasury, and graduated from Harvard. It’s great to see women getting gigs they earned, but their claims to fame should be their accomplishments.