It started with a bold experiment. A year ago, Budweiser asked its 12 brewmasters to envision their own unique version of one of the world's most iconic beers. After 12 recipes, six beers brewed for national sampling, and 25,000 opinions, the experiment has resulted in a new golden amber lager based on the voice of the people: Budweiser Black Crown.
The winning recipe from Budweiser's "Project 12" is now a new brand available for purchase starting Mon., Jan. 21. In suitable fashion for the King of Beers, Budweiser Black Crown will take its place on the national stage less than two weeks later when its first 30-second television advertisement airs during Super Bowl XLVII on Sun., Feb. 3.
With a blend of two-row caramel malt and four types of domestic hops, Budweiser Black Crown is finished on a bed of Beechwood chips for a smooth, balanced taste. Incorporating the proprietary yeast directly descended from the original Budweiser yeast strain used by Adolphus Busch in 1876, Budweiser Black Crown retains the key characteristics of Budweiser with its clean taste and high drinkability. Featuring more body, color and hop character than the flagship lager, it also has a slightly higher alcohol content at 6 percent ABV.
The Budweiser Black Crown recipe was the creation of Los Angeles brewmaster Bryan Sullivan and was the crowd favorite among the more than 25,000 adult drinkers from coast to coast who participated in the brand's Project 12 sampling initiative.
"It didn't matter where in the United States we asked, this is the beer that consistently drew the best feedback, and overwhelmingly so," says Rob McCarthy, vp of Budweiser.
During the process that led to Budweiser Black Crown, Sullivan and his fellow Budweiser brewmasters personally sampled the beer with consumers to get their direct feedback. Sullivan collaborated with Fairfield, Calif., brewmaster Scott Ungermann and Houston brewmaster Dave Cohen to perfect the recipe.
"People respond really well to Budweiser Black Crown, which has a little more body and color and a touch more hop character than our flagship Budweiser lager," says Sullivan, who heard from beer drinkers during a sampling program at the Budweiser Made in America music festival over Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia. "As brewmasters we spend most of our time in the brewhouse. Project 12 gave us a chance to hear firsthand from the people we brew our beers for. Budweiser Black Crown is a great beer and it is a thrill for our whole brewing team to see it launch with a Super Bowl spot."
The beer will be sold nationwide in 12-oz glass bottles available in six- and 12-packs and in 22-oz single bottles. It will be available both on-premise (bars and restaurants) and off-premise (grocery stores, supermarkets and convenience stores). The packaging for Budweiser Black Crown is distinctive and modern, with the crown "design cues" on the bottle and secondary packaging a nod to the history and heritage of Budweiser, McCarthy says.
Budweiser Black Crown will debut a TV spot during the Super Bowl XLVII broadcast. "We've set our sales-to-retailers date for Jan. 21 so we're fully ready for sales on Super Bowl Sunday," McCarthy says.
The beer's national advertising campaign also includes outdoor, digital, radio and print. In social media, the new brand will have interactive consumer programs on Facebook and Twitter that are designed to be participatory, similar in spirit to when consumers were asked to help choose the recipe that would ultimately become Budweiser Black Crown. The campaign will feature the Twitter hashtag #TASTEIS.
Nate Scudieri, senior brand manager for Budweiser Black Crown, says the beer is, like Budweiser, very refreshing and appealing to a large base of beer drinkers.
"Our research shows that after beer drinkers try Budweiser Black Crown, 84 percent would purchase it," Scudieri says. "It stays true to the original Budweiser recipe but has its own unique take. It's flavorful, smooth and highly drinkable."
Budweiser is America's No. 1 premium regular beer, selling more than its four nearest competitors combined.
Budweiser Black Crown is brewed at Anheuser-Busch's state-of-the art breweries in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Columbus, Ohio, and Williamsburg, Va.
The Super Bowl commercial was filmed in Los Angeles last month and directed by Samuel Bayer, whose previous Super Bowl work includes a spot that won an Emmy for best commercial. More information about the spots will be released later.
For more information on Budweiser Black Crown, visit www.budweiser.com/blackcrown.