Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why Corporations Still...

"Hey thanks for calling today, we'll definitely get your information off to someone and they'll be in touch soon." said Budweiser and MillerCoors PR departments.

It could be the typical journalism woes but it makes me wonder. Are Budweiser and MillerCoors beer brewing companies, or just a companies that happens to brew beer?

There is no doubt that they are the power house of the beer brewing industry in this country and that they are the kings of consistency. Brewers around the world highly respect these companies for what they do. What do they do that's so special? Aside from making a popular pilsner style beer they make a lot of it.

Brewing beer is a labor intensive process but the hardest part comes at the end. The final ingredient, yeast, are one of the most temperamental critters out there. Brewers must constantly pamper their yeast like rockstars. One mistake, no matter how minor could throw the entire brew off-balance. Miller and Budweiser have figured out how to do this and it's nothing shy of a scientific and technological wonder.

Copper kettles for the boiling portion of beer brewing.

Yeast laboratories and Ph.Ds in microbiology and physiology are what it takes to understand this deceptively simple single-celled organism that could. With all this success though comes the infrastructure to manage it all, the corporation.

Billions of yeast cells all go into making every batch of brew

This is what makes me now wonder, after having talked with so many in the brewing world. Are Miller and Budweiser about the craft of brewing? After many repeated attempts to get a brief interview from either, I never received a reply.

Budweiser's PR department though did want me to know that

"We use beer brewer's yeast, not baker's yeast."


  1. I have always wondered how Bud and Miller (or any brewery for that matter) managed to maintain consistency of flavor across so many batches and breweries...especially with how sensitive yeast can be. Years and years of practice and a lot of quality control i guess?

    Also, I think you may have stumbled onto something here with the baker's yeast. There's a whole line of sourdough, pumpernickel, and marble rye beers just waiting to be made.

    Looking forward to reading the full story.

  2. That stinks that they never got back to your interview request! For what it's worth, I think their beer pales in comparison to the many microbrews out there. To me, Miller and Bud are kind of like the Coke and Pepsi of beer. Good luck with your bigger article on this!

  3. It's difficult to separate quality products from the monstrous brands they've become. Some companies are very good at maintaining relations with journalists, while others -- as we can see here, are not.

    Keep calling and perhaps e-mail someone a bit higher in the hierarchy explaining your situation (i.e., that you've tried everything in the PR branch to get meaningful information). It might also be worth trying another country's headquarters. You're a pro in German, right?

    It's funny a rep said the yeast used in beer is different than in bread. Perhaps that's the range of the PR's department, too?

    You never know.

  4. As a journalist you have to appreciate the corporate run around, at least their avoidance gives you some practice dealing with big companies. I'm impressed that the person in the PR department even knew that there was a difference between baker's yeast and brewers yeast, but then again I tend to be a little jaded.

  5. Oh, corporate America. This is a funny little post; I'm sure we can all relate to your journalistic frustrations.

    Just as a side-note: have you tried contacting other beer brewers, maybe of the gluten-free variety? I admittedly know very little about brewing beer, and how the non-gluten varieties are brewed...but those companies might get less exposure and might be more interested in talking with you about their product. Just an idea!

  6. I love the graphics in this post, Eric -- they really pulled me into the piece. I'm struggling with PIOs now too and feel your pain. I particularly like the question you pose: beer brewers or companies that brew beer?

  7. D'oh! I, too, hate when you get the run-around from sources - it's sooooo frustrating!

  8. Don't blame the poor corporations! They are just looking out for us;) Seriously, what I don't get is when they give you nothing or a cold shoulder. That does not engender good will in the heart of a writer.