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Beer In Ads #19: Budweiser, I See You Have Excellent Taste

Monday’s ad is from 1937 and is again for Budweiser. The gypsy fortune teller must have seemed very exotic in the late 1930s. But I love the assertion that by buying Budweiser you’re complimenting “your own excellent taste.” And you, and three generations before you, have done so not because you liked the taste, not because you were thirsty, not even because you enjoyed beer, but for a more grand reason. You bought Bud “in the interest of good fellowship, contentment and good living.”

The inset box is signed by Adolphus Busch III, who’d taken over A-B from August A. Busch Sr. just a few years before, in 1934. It also contains some interesting statements. Obviously, the nation was still smarting from the effects of the Great Depression. Busch is insuring customers that buying Budweiser is helping American business; railroads, retailers and even farmers. He concludes with “whenever you drink Budweiser you are helping someone.” I imagine that’s true, but it’s still a bit odd that his focus is on that help going to someone other than A-B itself. I guess he didn’t want to come off like he was being self-serving.

The other thing I’m curious about is he mentions that A-B has “bought millions of dollars worth of barley and hops from American farmers.” Hops, I understand, to a point, at least. Today A-B owns hop farms in Idaho, but also in the Hallertau region of Bavaria, Germany. Obviously, the ad doesn’t claim they buy ALL their hops and barley from U.S. farmers, and they don’t even mention where the rice comes from. But did A-B buy more hops domestically in the past? Also, it’s my understanding that the vast majority of barley used by American breweries comes from Canada, though there is a small percentage grown in the U.S. for brewing. Has that shifted in the last 70+ years since this ad ran? Did brewers used to get more of their grain here in the States? Anybody know? You rarely see local grain touted as a point of pride in advertising, the only recent exception I can think of being Sierra Nevada’s Estate Brewers Harvest Ale. But with all the recent attention paid to buying locally and locavores, that has to be one of beer’s dirty little secrets: that most brewing grains come from outside the U.S., much less from local farmers.

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