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Anheuser-Busch Stays Classy With Bud Light Platinum

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No longer content with the ever-elusive “drinkability,” Anheuser-Busch InBev plans to roll out a strange, beefed-up new version of Bud Light early next year ahead of a big ad push during the Super Bowl.

The new beer will be called Bud Light Platinum, the mega-brewer’s entertaining attempt to straddle the line between the light-beer market (which has steadily edged past full-calorie beer over the past decade) and the emerging demand for craft beers. The company said the new Bud Light will be for “upscale light beer drinkers,” who have presumably been disappointed time and again by such lowbrow rotgut as Heineken Light and Stella Artois Light.  

AdAge reports that the beer will be 6% alcohol by volume and 137 calories, which puts it between the 110 calories in Bud Light (4.2% ABV) and the 145 calories in Budweiser (5% ABV) — and raises questions if it’s even a light beer at all. But let’s not dwell on that.

Anheuser-Busch isn’t the only vendor with a lowbrow brand scrounging for upmarket appeal. Starbucks and Domino’s now offer in-name-only “artisan” food options. No potato chip line is complete now without the obligatory “All Natural” offerings. PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay chip lines try to tap into the local-food craze with a “From Farm to Store” refrain, glossing over the detour through a factory to be slathered in oil and salt.

But Bud Light? The longtime best-selling beer in America is also a go-to punchline for beer lovers, and it’s hard to imagine anyone with a taste for craft brews resorting to a crude twist on the most infamous bad beer in the country. People who drink Bud Light know they’re drinking Bud Light. Its popularity is in its simplicity. It’s not premium beer and it can’t be, no matter what you do to it.

When it arrives in January, the beer will replace Bud Light Golden Wheat, introduced in 2009 to consternation from the Bud faithful and fans of wheat beer alike. Letting that be a lesson, Anheuser-Busch should probably should warm up now to the only people we can imagine will embrace a high-ABV Bud Light: college undergrads looking to get drunker than usual.

(See also: Can a Domino's Pizza Really Be "Artisan?")
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.