Gateway Beers – The Macro’s Contribution to Craft Beer

I give Molson and the other big boys a hard time for trying to enter the craft beer market with beers that are anything but. Brands like Rickard’s, Alexander Keith’s, and to a certain extent, Granville Island, are all pushing their beers as craft beer.

Alexander Keith's Beers

Faux-Craft Beers

It always upset me that some people believe those are craft beers — that they’re making a difference by purchasing those instead of true, independent micro beers. But then I thought maybe these beers aren’t so bad.

OK, so obviously I don’t condone drinking those beers if you want to taste true craft beer. But think about this: a Budweiser drinker can’t just jump right into craft beer. Chances are he or she will find it packed with too much flavour, or will find it plain disgusting. This is due to the tastebuds being used to the dull, watery flavours of basic American macro lagers. This is where these faux-craft beers come in handy.

Macro “Craft” Beers Use Television
Since these brands are owned by very, very large breweries with a lot of money, they can afford to push serious television advertising to the masses. They can market these beers so that it enters the consumer’s mind when he or she enters the liquor store. So obviously, the consumer is more likely to choose one of these beers instead of a real craft beer — if for whatever reason he or she decides not to pick up Budweiser this time. 

Molson's Rickards

Molson-owned Rickard’s

Macro “Craft” Beers Create Awareness
I have to applaud a yellow-fizz drinker who decides to pick a beer with a different colour. That’s step one. For example, mass-marketing Rickard’s Red, White, and Dark creates awareness of the whole beer spectrum. And their flavour is quite agreeable to the average lager-drinker. 

Macro “Craft” Beers Have a Mild Flavour
Like I said earlier, these beers are “transition” beers, meaning they are perfect for introducing different flavours to the American lager drinker. Rickard’s Red, for example, actually does a decent job at preparing the palette for how malt can create a sweetness. And the Granville Island IPA is actually a decent introduction to hops. If a basic lager drinker were to dive right into a craft beer IPA, he or she would most likely slide the beer back while wincing — “How can you drink that shit?” I suggest prescribing several Granville Island IPAs for a month, then start weening them off that and onto real IPAs.

Granville Island IPA

Good first-time IPA for those who hate IPAs

As we look around at where mass-marketed beer has gone since the craft beer revolution came around, there have been some steps forward. Yes, macro beer is still marketed through its image rather than its actual product, but at least they’ve seen the need to compete with craft beer.  

And these products they release to compete are perfect stepping stones from the over-populated world of dull beer, to the exciting new world of full-flavoured real beer. 

So while I may at times give these beers a rough ride, let it be known that they do some good: they are helping usher in future craft beer drinkers.


    1. Thanks for the link! Cheers!

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