Like a lot of other people, Danny Wang took to social media after seeing Budweiser's now-infamous Super Bowl commercial, “Brewed the Hard Way,” which bashed craft breweries with the line: “Let them drink their pumpkin peach ale. We'll be brewing us some golden suds.”
He couldn't believe that the megabrewer, owned by AB-InBev, would take such a personal shot at craft breweries, especially just a week after it purchased one of the most venerable of them, Elysian Brewing in Seattle, which just so happens to have brewed a pumpkin peach ale. The irony seemed rich.
“Which Colorado brewery wants to collab on a Peach Pumpkin Ale with us?” Wang asked on Facebook. “We can have a rate off against Bud. Um. You know, to be good sports. ?#?thechallenge?.”
The response was immediate, he says, not only on Facebook, where other breweries leaped at the chance, but also on his phone.
“It started as a half-drunk Facebook post, but my phone blew up immediately,” says Wang, the co-owner of Denver's Caution Brewing. “I spent the rest of Super Bowl Sunday dealing with it.”
On Wednesday, Caution hosted people from seven other local breweries, who gathered there to make a peach pumpkin ale, called Peach Fuss, which will debut on Saturday, March 21, at Collaboration Fest and then be featured on tap at both Caution locations and possibly elsewhere. The other breweries are: Chain Reaction, Kokopelli, Joyride, Mu, Three Freaks, Elk Mountain, and Nighthawk, which just opened last month in Broomfield. (To see Nighthawk's parody of the Bud commercial, scroll to the bottom of this page.)
“I want to thank Budweiser for spending $9 million advertising craft brewers,” he says with a smile. “I'm not mad at them. It's not a pissing match. They are going to do what they are going to do. This is just an excuse for us to get together and show comaradarie among craft breweries.”
The pumpkin peach ale won't be the first one brewed in Colorado. Elk Mountain, Equinox, Dad & Dudes, Platte Park and Mu have already brewed and their own versions. But it will be the one with the most participation.
Mu Brewery founder Nathan Flatland says the Bud ad felt “kind of like a push. We're all doing the same thing. Granted, they are at the macro level, but we are all doing what we love. It was an attack on craft beer.”
To make the beer, Caution head brewer Scott Petrovits refashioned the recipe for a blond ale, adding different malts and forty pounds of pumpkin puree. Then, after fermentation, he aged the beer on frozen sliced peaches.
“We are going to fuss over it,” says Wang, using another word that Budweiser employed in its commercial, which began with the words, "Proudly a macro beer" spelled out on the screen, followed by a shot of a bearded fellow sniffing a glass of dark beer and the words, "It's not brewed to be fussed over." The ad continued with a shot of three hip-looking fellows with tasting glasses and the words, "It's brewed for drinking, not dissecting."
“It will be light, like Budweiser, but it will taste damn good," Wang adds. "It will look beautiful and it will taste great. We're excited to be under the microscope.”
The second annual Collaboration Fest, featuring a whopping seventy different one-off beer collaborations, takes place March 21 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Hosted by the Colorado Brewers Guild and Imbibe Events, it runs from 3 to 7 p.m.