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The Coolest Beer Can Yet: Budweiser Vs. Boston Beer

By Steve Symington - Apr 20, 2013 at 1:00PM

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Anheuser Busch-InBev just unveiled a new bowtie-shaped can. Boston Beer is targeting a can for the first time this summer. Who wins?

Earlier this week, Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD 1.66%) unveiled its latest efforts to improve sales of its flagship Budweiser brand with a new bowtie-shaped can.

Budweiser Bowtie can. Source: AB-InBev.

Apparently, the sleek container -- which incidentally holds 11.3 ounces of beer compared with Budweiser's traditional 12-ounce cans -- has been in development since 2010, and the first eight-packs featuring the new shape are set to go on sale on May 6.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the marketing folks behind the 118-year-old brand are hoping to target younger consumers with their new creation. As Budweiser VP of innovation Pat McGauley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "We know there are a large number of consumers out there looking for new things, the trend-seekers. We expect both our core beer drinkers and new customers to try it."

Will it work?
I'm not gonna lie: As one of those younger consumers, you can bet I'll go out and buy one of those fabled eight-packs when they arrive. On that note, however, it won't be because of the beer inside.

And that, my friends, is why I'm convinced that AB-InBev's new can won't matter over the long run. Like the gimmicky vented wide-mouth cans and Vortex bottles offered by Molson Coors (TAP 1.56%), AB-InBev's new design doesn't actually offer anything to beer drinkers except a cool-looking container.

Back in February, I wrote about Boston Beer's (SAM -1.08%) decision to put it's own flagship Samuel Adams beer in cans starting this Summer.

In that article, I noted the advice given to Boston Beer founder Jim Koch by his father after he started the company: "People don't drink the marketing; they drink the beer."

Boston Beer's new Samuel Adams Can. Image source: Boston Beer.

Unlike the offerings of its giant competitors, Boston Beer's can actually serve some functional utility for consumers. As I mentioned last time around, beer consultant Roy Desrochers described the flared lip and wider top of Boston Beer's product as working "in concert to deliver the beer in a way that makes the flavor closer to drinking out of a glass."

For the love of beer
What's more, just a few weeks ago, Boston Beer made the encouraging decision to allow all craft brewers the chance to use its new can design without any royalty or license fee, all in the name of helping their smaller kin deliver the best taste experience possible. 

As someone who wholeheartedly appreciates a good brew, I'm happy to see Boston Beer effectively epitomizing its own "For the love of beer" catch phrase.

Foolish final thoughts
Unfortunately for current industry stalwarts such as Molson-Coors and AB-InBev, McGauley was absolutely right in saying consumers are out there looking for "new things." The problem, however, is that those new things largely consist of better-tasting beers. And that's why the craft beer industry should be able to continue its meteoric rise at the expense of huge traditional brands.

While the brewing big boys will undoubtedly do their best to grab as large a slice of the craft brewing market as possible, I still think Boston Beer stands alone as the best way to play this long-term shift in drinking preferences.

What do you think? Am I giving the beer-drinking public too much credit? Sound off in the comments section below.

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Stocks Mentioned

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV Stock Quote
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV
$56.94 (1.66%) $0.93
The Boston Beer Company, Inc. Stock Quote
The Boston Beer Company, Inc.
$354.42 (-1.08%) $-3.87
Molson Coors Beverage Company Stock Quote
Molson Coors Beverage Company
$56.80 (1.56%) $0.87

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