Since its arrival in Columbia, SC a few years ago, I have been a fan of World of Beer, a semi-national chain of craft beer bars. I was especially impressed early on, when our particular branch did not stock pale macro lagers like Budweiser, Coors Light, and the rest. Within a year or so, they started stocking such beers in cans. While I was not a fan, I could at least acknowledge the potential market share being surrendered by not offering these beers, though why people would go to a craft beer bar and order Bud Light is beyond me. Still, as long as those tall boys were stashed away in a fridge in the corner, out of sight and out of mind, they weren’t bothering me at all.
Then I stopped by WoB last week, and saw this:
If you look closely at the left-hand side of that row of taps, you will see none other than a Bud Light handle.
Bud Light…and I’ve been told this is a company-wide addition to tap walls. Et tu, World of Beer?
I freely admit that I have held World of Beer to a higher standard, but that’s because this is a bar that prides itself on setting that higher standard. Their website openly brags about having “550+ different beers from around the world”. And I’m sure they are still holding to that impressive benchmark, or at least awfully close to it. That high quality carries through to the staff, who I find to be highly knowledgeable and passionate about the craft beer they sell. This passion reflected back to me, as I felt pride AS A CUSTOMER to be able to look at a 50- or 60-tap wall, and have the most common thing on it be Stella Artois. I love being able to find a dozen local beers, and a few relatively rare offerings that I have ZERO chance of finding most anywhere else.
For right now, yes, this Bud Light thing is just one tap, out of 50-some. There is still plenty of room for great beer. But that’s right now. Can the addition of Bud Light to the tap wall result in a slippery slope? How long until it’s joined by its big brother Budweiser? Or Miller Lite? Or any of a dozen or more macro lagers? The drinkers of these beers can be awfully hard to ignore—that’s a lot of market share being given up. It would be easy to populate a tap wall with these macros.
I urge World of Beer to remain strong. You cannot let the macro lager culture take over your tap walls. There’s enough macro lager culture already; this being Super Bowl Sunday, there’s a fair chance we can look forward to another commercial mocking craft beer. We, the craft beer lovers, must remain strong against this culture. World of Beer establishments are beacons of this craft beer culture, and their foundations are the thousands of great craft beers that can be found across this country and all over this world. It is my wish to no longer see Bud Light or other macro lagers on the WoB tap walls.