Shock Top Sent Me $100 Worth of Swag and Two Awful Beers. That Sums Them Up Perfectly.

Categories: Hophead
shock top campfire swag.JPG
Jesse Hughey
Yesterday I received a box full of suburban "camping" gear and a couple of sample beers from Shock Top, a package that stands as the perfect symbol of Anheuser-Busch InBev's utter contempt for and cluelessness about the culture of craft beer.

Packed inside a shock-resistant SwissGear Synergy laptop backpack, which retails for $65 to $99, were a backpacking stowaway pot (about $20), two Hershey's chocolate bars, marshmallows, a packet of graham crackers, roasting sticks, a Sterno can and some dessert thing with a s'mores base and chocolate molded into the shape of a beer mug. Most odious of all was a box of "Campfire Cologne," which consists of a few sticks of cedar wood, matches and instructions to "waft the essence over your flannel and beard." It sells for $13 a box at Urban Outfitters. Oh, and there were two bottles of Shock Top Campfire Wheat, too. It's made with graham wheat, chocolate malts, marshmallow flavoring and aged over cocoa nibs, because apparently the world needs a beer that tastes like artificial s'mores.

Boy, the marketing department at that multinational, billion-dollar corporation really nailed us craft-beer drinkers, didn't they? We're a bunch of bearded, flannel-wearing laptop jockeys who aspire to an outdoors lifestyle but in reality are more likely to buy the scent of campfire smoke at the mall. And rather than spending money improving their core product, they know we'll line up to sample a gimmick beer made with weird ingredients, as long as they can create the perception that it's in limited supply. Campfire Wheat is one of three offerings that the PR material, which is written in the smarmy, faux-friendly bro-speak familiar to readers of Urban Daddy, describes as "putting an innovative twist on beer styles." The three special releases will only be available at select beer festivals this year, including Saturday's Big Texas Beer Festival. The kind of smart, discerning beer lovers who pay $35 to $60 for samples of new, rare, unique and otherwise special brews are going to laugh the scantily clad Shock Top servers right out of the Auto Building.

Craft beer is booming, taking a bigger slice of the beer market every year, and the foreign-owned corporations are scared shitless. But rather than improve their products by not using trash ingredients, they're spending money to play craft-beer dress-up, buying out breweries or creating their own pseudo-craft companies. This package of swag is such a brazen insult it almost seems like satire. It's more than $100 worth of marketing swag that reduces its badly missed target audience to a stereotype, and, almost an afterthought, a grand total of two beers. You couldn't ask for a more literal illustration of their priorities.

Oh yeah, the beer. It was horrible. Beyond awful. The nose presents an immediate blast of marshmallow, and it's so sickeningly sweet that I almost gagged at the first sip. The three s'mores elements are definitely there, a testament to the power of artificial flavoring. I have polished off entire 40s of Steel Reserve and 24-ounce cans of Four Loko, but this was too disgusting even for me. I barely got through half a bottle before pouring it down the sink.


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60 comments
ManiacleBeaver
ManiacleBeaver

- a bunch of bearded, flannel-wearing laptop jockeys who aspire to an outdoors lifestyle but in reality are more likely to buy the scent of campfire smoke at the mall.

You've never been to San Diego or seen a Hipster have you?

jamamma
jamamma

I wonder if the Cletus that wrote this was excited to see Southern Tier Crème Brulee make its way into Texas.  What do you mean craft beer people don't like flavored beer? Shiner smokehouse anyone? Look at what The Bruery does? Why would you expect the big guys not to try to mimmick (in their own way) the successful folks taking a chunk out of their margins?

garlandsucks
garlandsucks

Leave it to a fucking hipster to complain about getting free shit.  "my generations for sale, beats a steady job, basically I'm a pro, my generation dont trust no one...not even ourselves"

TheFHP
TheFHP

Let's not pretend like you didn't read Andy Crouch's comments on Twitter and copy that toward your article.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I wish we could get more of the Boulevard brews down here

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Keep the backpack and burn the rest  - Flavored beer is an abomination 

boysattva
boysattva

ehhhh I dunno man, sounds an awful lot like an attempt at humor (effective or not) rather than some kinda demographically aimed effort. I like jack links jerky but I aint out huntin "squatches" let alone pissin them off. just sayin

Besides...you used the term "nose" to describe the smell. did you have your pinky up at the time?

lighten up fella

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

Shock Top is shite across the board.

AllKnowingTVGuy
AllKnowingTVGuy

I just wanna know how to get a sampling kit from them. Seems worth it.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

The back pack looks ok. Don't forget to include the value of the swag in next year's tax return. After that review they will probably 1099 you.

bstewart1987
bstewart1987

Can I have the gear if you dont want it.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Are all craft beer fans pompous asses then?

Glad to see food blog elitism has crossed from fast food to beer.

tingleyr
tingleyr

I suppose it is a completely different style though......

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@garlandsucks Yeah, because AB-InBev's marketing division did it out of the kindness of their hearts, right? I'm sure they weren't hoping the free stuff might curry some favor with writers.

Jesse_Hughey
Jesse_Hughey

@TheFHP I did see those right after the story was published. In fact, those tweets and this piece posted almost simultaneously. I'm sure we weren't the only ones who had the same thought.

fred
fred

@ScottsMerkin you can get plenty of the boulevard brews down here...just gotta know where to find it.  So tasty.

Mervis_Earl
Mervis_Earl

Had some White Choklat from The Breuery in Orange County yesterday while tailgating. Barrel aged with cocoa nibs and something else. It did have the flavor of said name and it was good.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Sotiredofitall I liked DEBC's chocolate cherry valentines thing a lot last year, but it seemed to lack the same zing this year.

Jesse_Hughey
Jesse_Hughey

@boysattva It may be an attempt at humor, but the big guy making fun of the little guy is about as funny as a playground bully doing the old "stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself" routine. Yeah, "nose" sounds pretentious to people who don't regularly read beer reviews but I haven't come up with a better term. Maybe I'm alone in this but I've always thought "smell" as a noun has a negative connotation. Though that would have been accurate here.

Jesse_Hughey
Jesse_Hughey

@Scruffygeist It doesn't take a pompous ass to know how awful this beer was. But don't take my word for it, try some yourself if it makes it out of test-marketing. I'd be interested to hear what you think of it.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Scruffygeist Ive noticed on my FB page the craft beer drinkers.  They tend to be obnoxious and must post about the dolts who dare go into a bar specializing in beer and order a bud light.  fuck man, some people just like a bud light.  I like other beers too, but my go to beer to get a nice cheap night of drunken golden tee, Im not drinking craft brew.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Jesse_Hughey @boysattva 

Probably want to stay away from "odor" as well when describing consumables - although that term sounds like it might apply, here.

Maybe aroma? Too food-y?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

@Jesse_Hughey Yes, it sounds terrible. But terrible ideas aren't limited to large corporate ownership. Shiner has had their share of awful, so has plenty of other smaller brewers in the name of unique. And when I'm at the store, I buy craft 7 times out of 10, unless I'm buying European or just want a typical American lager. Which is not a crime to want, and I'm fully aware there are American lagers from craft brewers, but sometimes a Miller Lite is all you need. Just like when  all you need is a bag of Cheetos, or mashed potatoes, or McDonald's fries. Beer can be comfort food too.

When I'm at a pub I tour the crafts. But if I'm at a generic bar (the Duke's of the world), I'm fine with the big boys. It's the growing perception that you're a shithead for even considering a Budweiser product that's as annoying as being given crap for ever pulling in to a drive-through, especially as food writers try to out-elevate each other.

looptwelve
looptwelve

@ScottsMerkin @Scruffygeist People who say "I enjoy craft beer but sometimes I just want a Bud Light" = the guy at a Metallica show in the 80's who says, "I love metal, but sometimes I just want to listen to Van Halen".

Jesse_Hughey
Jesse_Hughey

@ScottsMerkin @Scruffygeist Thing is, though, Shock Top is usually about the same price as a lot of much better beers. Bud Light isn't a whole lot cheaper than some decent beers. C'mon, spend an extra 50 cents or dollar on yourself. You're worth it.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@ScottsMerkin Same here, man. I dig craft beer. Just not all the time. I drink craft beer when Im in the mood to enjoy the flavor of a good beer and catch a little buzz while doing so. I drink the bud/coors/miller lights when Im in the mood to get fucking drunk.

Jesse_Hughey
Jesse_Hughey

@Scruffygeist I'm not a food writer and if I were trying to out-elevate anyone, I wouldn't have admitted drinking 40s of Steel Reserve.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@JustSaying @TheCredibleHulk 

*Ha* I've still got it on vinyl. Haven't owned a turntable in 20 years, though.

Gads I hated audio-tape. The only redeeming quality of taped entertainment was the ability to bring the "mix-tape" to life.

Oh, and home 4-track recording - I still have and old Tascam that I use to this day for that purpose. 

JustSaying
JustSaying

@TheCredibleHulk Van Halen's 1984 was the first cd that I ever bought. I stayed away from cd's as long as I could. It pained me to think that my huge collection of cassette tapes was about to have to be replaced.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@JustSaying @TheCredibleHulk 

I don't know what the kids are saying these days, I stopped trying to keep up around the year 2000.

Your comment about VH in conjunction with that word just brought me back to 1984 when the term "records" routinely referred to those large black vinyl things that we used to use to store our respective musical libraries on.

It's just not a term that I hear in that particular context much, anymore, and struck me as funny.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@TheCredibleHulk Records as in short for recordings. I didnt say albums. Does anyone say that they like a bands first cd? Or I really dig the their first Itune download?

JustSaying
JustSaying

@looptwelve I do love metal but sometimes I do just want to listen to Van Halen. The first 5 records, anyway.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@Jesse_Hughey I wanted to try that new Coors attempt at craft beer called Batch 19. I heard that it wasnt bad so I figured that I would give it a shot. A sixer of that shit was 8.99. Three steps to my right was a sixer of Iron Thistle for 7.99. That was a no brainer. I left with the Rahr beer. Someone needs to tell those assholes that a fancy label and a few extra bucks on the pricetag does not make you a craft beer.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Jesse_Hughey @ScottsMerkin @Scruffygeist I hear ya, when im on a friday night bender I trust bud light, dinner on the othee hand, I venture, say debc and other locals yall write about

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

Not ragging on your likes, just saying popularity isn't everything.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@alteredjustice Im not making fun of your tastes and likes, why must you rag on mine, its amazing that you know so much about me because I drink a bud light.  

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@alteredjustice actually a lot according to sales.

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