6 Ridiculous Moments in Beer Innovation

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6 Ridiculous Moments in Beer Innovation

I cant imagine that marketing beer is a particularly tough job, especially when youre already one of the big boys. At this point, seeing an ad for Budweiser during the big game feels like a full-on waste of money. Its like those weird ads for “cotton” that make me go, “Yeah, Im pretty sure its already in most of our stuff? Youre paying Zooey Deschanel to remind us what the t-shirt and jeans we're wearing are already made of?” 

Nevertheless, I assume Big Beer is constantly in a cutthroat competition to steal each others market share in a Sisyphean push-pull that truly cannot be worth it. Occasionally, simple advertising isnt enough, and they have to enter the physical realm, introducing some new twist on beer thatll send a couch-bound nation stumbling to the gas station for the hot new thing. A lot of times, theyre very stupid.

Heres six of the dumbest beer innovations ever served to us…

The Miller Vortex Bottle

I still do not understand the value prop here. Miller debuted a new bottle, called the Vortex, with spiral-shaped grooves in the neck — finally solving the age old problem of it being too hard to get beer out of a bottle? This isnt a ketchup situation. Nobody needs to tap the 57 on a beer bottle every time they take a sip. Maybe it has something to do with aeration and flavor, but given that its Miller Lite, its a real swirly-lipstick on a pig situation. Of course, it could have been just nonsense marketing to put Miller Lite at the front of peoples minds, but I have to imagine you can do that without having to overhaul your manufacturing process.

The Heineken Mini-Keg

With a particularly terrifying sort of commercial, Heineken revealed their mini-keg, known as the Draughtkeg. To their credit, when it debuted, it was a big hit. Everyone I know bought one for a party. The problem is, no one I know ever bought a second one. While they were cool in theory, in practice, they were just kind of annoying. They were a pain in the ass to store, they were fiddly even in the soberest of times and the cool “ice-cold keg” feeling was destroyed when you watched your beer pibble its way out of a cheap, Lego-like tap with the speed of a morning piss from an elderly prostate. Also, five liters was just a thoroughly weird and useless amount of beer. It comes out to about 14 bottles, and anyone who ever bought one realized why they dont sell beer in 14-packs.

Bud Energy


Before Sparks built a business around what were basically legal speedballs by combining energy drinks and alcohol, and long before Four Loko flew directly into the sun and vaporized their wax wings, Budweiser had dipped their toes in these waters. In 2005, they debuted something called “Bud Extra,” which was a 10-ounce can of high-gravity pilsner mixed with caffeine, guarana and other usual energy suspects. It was a massive failure, probably partly because Four Loko was hard enough to force down even with three Slurpees worth of artificial flavoring, while Budweiser simply went with the flavor of “beer, but worse.”


Speaking of strange tweeners, heres a beer that has, in what is news to me, remained for sale since its introduction. This is the beer with a thousand names, another testament to the fact that nobody seems to know what the fuck to do with it. It debuted as Miller Genuine Draft 64, then was called Miller 64, then Miller Extra Light, and now is back to Miller 64. The intent seems to have been to hit that wide-open market for something thats not beer or water, but something worse in the middle, which some would argue Miller Lite already perfected. It has 64 calories, hence the name, and a 2.8 percent ABV, which together, make it a beer for no occasion.

Miller Clear Beer

Once again, a dogshit product under the Miller name. Im begging you, just keep making the official beer of a barbecue where you dont know that many people and leave it at that. In 1993, they debuted what is a patently disgusting idea, “Miller Clear,” which is exactly what it sounds like. They must be forever thankful to Crystal Pepsi for tanking so hard theyve been largely forgotten. I would argue clear beer is even grosser, since everybody knows soda is nothing but bubbly water and flavoring, but most people like to imagine their beer is made from something.

Non-Alcoholic White Claw

White Claw

Okay, so its not beer, but what the fuck is going on here? What sort of nightmarish fucking M.C. Escher staircase are you forcing my mind to go through just to end up back at “can of regular, bad seltzer”? I picked this up out of a cooler at a party recently, and trying to figure out what was going on reset me like a router. I think I forgot my name for 20 seconds. The only redeeming quality is that, with the release of White Claws 8 percent ABV “Surge,” you can now make the most useless cocktail of all time, something Ive deemed the “As Above, So Below.” Here are the ingredients: 5 ounces White Claw Surge (8 percent ABV), 3 ounces same-flavored N/A White Claw (0 percent ABV). 

The end result? Eight ounces of completely regular, 5 percent ABV White Claw. Give it a try!

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