18 May 2009 @ 9:44 AM 

Pop quiz: What do Kid Rock and Jimmy Buffet have in common?

Okay. You got me. There are actually a lot of right answers to that, but the one I’m looking for is that they both have their own beer.

You may not be familiar with Jimmy Buffet’s Landshark Lager. It is made by Margaritaville Brewing Company, which is to say it is marketed by Margaritaville Brewing Company which is a joint venture between Buffet and Anheuser-Busch InBev who actually makes the beer. It’s not the worst beer I’ve ever had.

Enter Bob Ritchie, aka Kid Rock, who is starting the “American Bad Ass Beer Company” together with Drinks Americas Holdings, Ltd., who are the minds behind Donald Trump’s Trump Super Premium Vodka and Willie Nelson’s Old Whiskey River Bourbon among other celebrity-infused lines. Their one beer project so far has been nostalgia-based Rheingold Beer (which has a higher rating than Landshark!).

In a surprising move, however, Mr. Rock and DAH announced that “Bad Ass Beer” would be contract brewed at The Michigan Brewing Company, a craft brewer where (as far as I know) Hoegaarden founder Pierre Celis still brews his Celis Wit. The Michigan Brewing Company is reportedly investing $7 million into this line of beer, as well as receiving a $723,000 tax credit (over 7 years) from the state as part of an economic stimulus package for the region. Making beer is kinda like making cars in that it employs people in a factory, so that’s a good thing.

Unfortunately, that’s about where I stop thinking that it’s cool.

As near as I can tell, the only people who will really go for this beer will almost undoubtedly be hardcore Kid Rock fans which sounds like a fairly small market to me. Why? Well, here’s an excerpt from a recent Rolling Stone interview:

What does it taste like?

It just tastes like good American light beer, a regular beer and a light beer, an everyday beer.

[. . .]

What’s it called?

It’s going to be called Bad Ass Beer. The ads are so funny. There are so many funny ads you can do with a thing called Bad Ass Beer. There’s one where it looks like the Budweiser horses, and they’re all up in the air, just freaked out, like they went haywire, and whatever they ride on is smashed up, and it just has my beer sitting in the front, it says “Bad Ass.” And “…and the horses they rode in on.” There’s another one where we fuck with Corona. We have an old rusty truck with no tires on it and it’s sitting on the Bad Ass beer, and it says, “The only way you’ll ever see a lemon on it.” We’ve got another one with the Bad Ass beer simulating like it’s fucking the St. Pauli’s girl. We’re all doing it locally with an ad agency here in Detroit that does a lot of car ads. The guy lives next to me and runs my favorite bar here. They come up with really funny stuff. It’s just wide-open for fucking with people. And the beer actually tastes good, there’s no aftertaste.

So, you’re having a decent craft brewery make beer that will compete directly with BMC light lager offerings and instead of investing in the beer, you’re investing in a shit-ton of advertising.

This is doomed to failure. Why? Because they can out-cheap you, Mr. Rock. They can out-cheap you HARD. You can’t sell beer as inexpensively as they sell beer, because the company that you’re paying to make beer can’t make it in the quantity that those guys can, $7 million dollar investment or not. You’ll be making something to the tune of a fraction of a percent of the beer that they make. You can’t get those price breaks. On top of that, you’re throwing millions of dollars at advertising – and unless you’re a bigger philanthropist than I think you are, I’m guessing that you’re going to want to recoup that cost somehow, which means higher priced beer. Ultimately, the guys down at the local might think it’s awesome to buy your beer once in a while, but when they can buy a sixer of Bud Light for the same price as a bomber of Bad Ass, I think the choice is going to be pretty clear.

On a personal level, I also have to admit that this kind of thing pisses me off: When celebrities throw their weight and money into places that they don’t belong. For every bullshit company started on celebrity name recognition there are 100 small businesses with real quality products that fail because they can’t find even a modest investment. The state of Michigan is giving nearly $1 mil in tax credits? Man, I hope that when I start my brewery I can get a piece of that action, even if I don’t have a record out. If they were willing to put that type of effort toward fixing the distribution laws, I bet Bell’s Brewery would be happy to help stimulate the economy, as well.

Either way, Bad Ass Beer should be hitting the shelves sometime right around Labor Day. Look for it and try it, because my bet is that it won’t be around for long.

Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 18 May 2009 @ 03:33 PM



Responses to this post » (3 Total)

  1. Russ Carr says:

    I believe the beer’s name is lacking in punctuation. It needs a comma, to wit: Bad, Ass Beer.

    Also: one man’s “aftertaste” is another man’s “finish.” So ba wit’ your ba on that, Bob.

  2. melanie says:

    got to try some bad ass beer this weekend at kids show in THE “D”, and i have to admit, it was pretty damn good!!!! i can’t wait for it to hit the shelves to have some more!

  3. Bob says:

    I tried some bad ass beer at BWWs (Buffalo Wild Wings) yes, they sell it there, and it was awesome. This was after a Sam Adams a Miller Lite and an O’Dools. So I tried it again last weekend, by itself, and it was still damn good!!!
    Good Stuff… and I’m not a Kid Rock fan.

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