Microbrews, long popular here in the hop-happy Pacific Northwest, still represent just a drop in the bucket of overall beer sales, but they’ve been steadily siphoning off market share from mass-produced brands such as Budweiser, Miller and Coors.
Industry giant Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, took aim at the craft brewing movement on Super Bowl Sunday with a one-minute TV commercial titled “Brewed the Hard Way,” which touts Bud’s easy-drinking, blue-collar virtues while mocking microbrew lovers as self-important snobs chasing the latest fad.
Hopstories, a small video production company with strong Corvallis ties, has fired back with a 60-second spot of its own that has gone viral on the Internet, garnering more than 200,000 views on YouTube.
The Anheuser-Busch ad opens with a shot of a massive Budweiser brewery, followed by clips of cantering Clydesdales, waitresses toting trays of longnecked bottles and crowds of people having a good time in a working-class bar. Contrasted with all those positive images are scenes of simpering hipsters fussing over funny-colored brews in fancy-looking glassware.
As driving electronic music throbs in the background, the commercial’s unsubtle message flashes across the screen in big type: “Budweiser, proudly a macro beer,” it proclaims. “The people who drink our beer are people who like to drink beer brewed the hard way. Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale. We’ll be brewing us some golden suds.”
The Hopstories video amounts to a frame-by-frame spoof that counters Budweiser’s microbrew-bashing with some artful jabs of its own. It features views of Northwest microbreweries, including Calapooia Brewing in Albany and Sky High Brewing in Corvallis, intercut with loving closeups of malted barley, fresh hops, pint glasses brimming with full-bodied craft beers, and mountain bikers enjoying a cold one after a ride.
“Only craft beer is brewed by hand, the actual hard way,” the video’s text declares. “We will savor our hundreds of styles. You keep pushing your one.”
Hopstories executive producer Eric Buist, a former Corvallis resident who now lives in Seattle, said he decided to make the video after seeing the Anheuser-Busch commercial.
“You can see where Budweiser’s coming from. They take pride in their macro beer,” Buist said. “But it kind of ticked me off. I let it stew, and the next morning I said, ‘You know what? I bet I could do the same thing from a craft beer perspective.’”
Using stock footage from previous Hopstories shoots and a video editing program, Buist put his parody ad together in about six hours of indignation-fueled work and uploaded it to the Internet, where it quickly started attracting attention for its high-quality production values and spot-on satire.
In addition to a torrent of kudos from microbrew aficionados, the video has uncorked a flood of interview requests from local TV and radio stations as well as national media outlets such as USA Today, Time and the Washington Post.
“It’s kind of been a whirlwind the last few days,” Buist said.
Yancy Faulkner of Corvallis, also an executive producer for Hopstories, said he had a similar reaction to the Budweiser spot when he first saw it.
“My initial thing was kind of like, ‘Hey, don’t talk about my friend that way,’” he said.
Faulkner described craft brewers as more collaborative than competitive and said he was planning to make a satirical video of his own when he learned that Buist had beat him to the punch.
“He did a really amazing job,” Faulkner said. “I’m really proud of him and stoked that we could be such an advocate for the craft beer industry.”
So far, however, there’s been no reaction from Anheuser-Busch, whose “Brewed the Hard Way” ad has generated some 4.9 million views on YouTube while continuing to air on television.
“They have not reached out to us,” Buist said. “I don’t think they see us as any kind of threat.”