AB InBev Trademarking Our Area Code for Crappy Beer

i_love_713.jpg
Filling a stein with Budweiser is tantamount to filling a Riedel glass with Boone's Farm, just FYI.
Anheuser-Busch is counting on civic pride to make its next product a smash seller: beer named after America's various beer-drinking cities, based on their area codes.

To that end, AB has already applied for a federal trademark for "713" for Houston, reports Craft Business Daily, as well as 314 for St. Louis, 303 for Denver and 214 for Dallas.

And while it's a proven fact that Houstonians are easy targets for anything that bears our area code -- much like Texans are easy prey for advertisers who hawk their product as the "best in Texas" or decorate it with a Lone Star flag -- there's uneasy concern in the craft beer world that the beer giant is simply exploiting this tendency to sell a low-quality product and undermine craft brewing in the process.

"The AB-InBev move to trademark area codes is a marketing strategy that reflects the push-back of the craft beer community in the movement to drink local, craft beer as opposed to foreign-owned mass-produced products," said Leslie Sprague, who runs the Houston craft beer blog Lushtastic.

"I was unaware you could trademark a string of numbers," Sprague continued. "This could start an increasingly silly string of law suits over seemingly arbitrary number strings with cultural significance."

Indeed, with this latest trademarking move, AB InBev's intention seems to be to sell city-specific beer in markets that aren't yet saturated with craft breweries of their own. Small-scale craft brewers like Southern Star and upcoming breweries like 8th Wonder Brewing have traditionally been the counterpoints to large conglomerates like AB InBev, brewing craft beer that represents the tastes and interests of the cities in which they operate. Adjunct lagers like Budweiser "going native" could be a huge threat to Houston's burgeoning breweries, which rely almost exclusively on support from local residents.

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Still brewing the best beer in the 713.
But Brock Wagner, founder of Saint Arnold, is cautiously willing to give AB a little bit more leeway.

"It is curious that they are grabbing these area codes," he said. "I'm not sure if it is an offensive or defensive maneuver by them."

Either way, Houston's largest craft brewery doesn't seem too bothered by the news. The Belgian-owned AB InBev may have a tough row to hoe in cities like Houston where local products are increasingly trumping those of outsiders.

"Somebody here asked if they need to put 011 in front," Wagner said, "because of their foreign ownership."



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23 comments
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Dustin Kalman
Dustin Kalman

I don't think they should be able to trademark area codes. These belong in the public domain.

Jason McElweenie
Jason McElweenie

AB just asked if they could trademark my feces. Hey, its a step up!

Bugsy
Bugsy

Yeah, I have heard of it being mentioned. It is being labeled as an Chocolate Stout, with hopp heavy notes and a bit of a nutty flavor. Marketed as McElweenie's Chocolate Starfish.

brandius
brandius

I dont understand AB at all. If they want to beat the competition, wouldn't it be easier and more cost effective to like, ya know, make a better tasting product?

And maybe not act like a bag of piss poor dildos. 

barleyvine
barleyvine

I hate to break it to you, they are beating the competition.  As much as folks that are replying on this blog (myself included) love craft beer, it makes up less than 10% of beer sales nation wide, and even less than that in Texas.  My guess to what they are doing, is either the GI Wheat deal mentioned above, or they are going to make "local" beer like they did with Ziegen Bock in different areas.

brandius
brandius

I didn't mean "beat the competition" in the standard "outsell" form. Im fully aware that AB does better than craft. I was talking about beating craft beers to a pulp. They clearly want them out of the market completely. 

barleyvine
barleyvine

I'm not sure they want them out of the market, they just want to own the craft beer market, not by actually making good beer, but by purchasing up the competition.  See what ABInBEV did with Goose Island, or MIller did with Lienie's back in the day (ruined a brand) or what Coors has tried to do with their Blue Moon Line or Colorado Native line.  What's sad to me is that they buy/create these products and then they will try their damndest to keep folks from knowing who actually owns them (I think there are still people that don't realize Blue Moon is a Molson-Coors product).  The beers owned or even partially owned by ABInBEV is staggering.

Dwb
Dwb

Does someone own (713) BRITOSUX yet???

SirRon
SirRon

Suck it AB/InBev! I'm 832, b!tches. Haaaaa!

Texas Beer Fest
Texas Beer Fest

Know a lot of people are upset with this, Texas Beer Fest did a little investigating and here are the steps to take if you want to protest AB/InBev's Trademark application: http://txbf.blogspot.com/

jack
jack

Heck, maybe I need to be trademarking some area codes. InBev aught to trademark 303. I'm sure Denver will jump and down to get some of that swill they brew.

KD
KD

It's not what you think, completely.  AB/InBev purchased Goose Island and GI makes a lame American Wheat style beer called "312" (a Chicago area code).  So my guess is that they are going to be releasing that beer as "713" in Houston.Of all the beers GI makes, this is the lamest.

John Kiely
John Kiely

I just returned from Chicago and northern Indiana, where my brothers-in-law, their buddies, and many neighbors had bottles of 312 in their hands for Fourth of July.  These are people who normally pack their beer fridge with cans of Miller Lite, MGD, and most of the Budweiser variations. I wouldn't buy 312, but I'd buy stock in it.

KD
KD

If given the choice between Bud labeled beer or 312, I'll drink 312.  It's a step up for sure, but it's not better than a Shiner product or St. Arnold's Lawnmower.I think that's the issue with GI anymore.  their standard lineup is just that, standard.  Their specialty beers are fantastic and award winning.  But the standard bottled stuff is just ok.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I keep trying to like Goose Island, every time I'm in Chicago, and I have yet to find a brew of theirs that I dig. Perhaps this is why. I did not know that they were owned by AB InBev...

beer_chris
beer_chris

I couldn't disagree more. Goose Island makes some solid beers. I actually *like* 312, I think it's a tasty easy drinking wheat ale, and I seek it out as my first pint when I travel to Chicago. The other standard beers are brewed more towards an English tradition, a group of styles I have a soft spot for. Honkers Ale is, in my mind, one of the better standard bitters available in the US, and I am really hoping the AB INBev buyout brings it to Texas. It's dreamy on cask. The IPA is OK - but not a bad English-style IPA.

The specialty release beers Goose Island makes are nationally famous, highly rated beers. If AB Inbev brings that stuff to Texas I will be very pleased. This buyout has the potential for great good - or great evil. I just hope this area code buyout thing isn't the first step to dumbing-down the Goose Island brand - i.e. what happened to Celis after the Miller buyout.

Kylejack
Kylejack

Goose Island makes some incredible beers.  The Bourbon County Brand Stout, for example, is one of the best beers I've ever tasted.

You could have had class, Goose Island. You could have been a contender!

Megan
Megan

Agreed.  Their standard stuff, such as 312 and Honkers Ale , is not that great, but some of their limited-edition beers (Bourbon County Brand Stout, Night Stalker, Sophie, Pepe Nero, etc.) are really good.  I wanted to get my hands on some Big John stout (the label's an homage to the Hancock Building), but not any more.

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