The presidential election cycle slowed down enough this past month or so to allow news organizations to trumpet the fact that Belgian beverage maker InBev is purchasing Anheuser-Busch, the makers of that most American of beers, Budweiser. A hue and cry came from trailer parks all over this country, not only because another American company was being snapped up by a foreign conglomerate, but because most people know next to nothing about Belgium. Seriously, could you find Belgium on a map of Europe? Did you even know Belgium was in Europe? Belgium doesn’t really play into this whole "war on terror" thing, so for the past seven years or so Belgium has had even less of a place in the broad American conscious than Antarctica. At least Antarctica has a climate that lends itself to crappy basic cable reality shows.
When I first heard of InBev’s attempts to buy Anheuser-Busch, I thought that it was just an attempt to boost their own profits by buying one of the most iconic of brands in the most powerful nation on the planet. When you think of American beer, you think of that stylized logo, the image of those great big Clydesdales thundering across the untamed American landscape, the string of incredibly annoying yet highly successful Super Bowl ads from Bud Bowl to the frogs to the "whassup" craze that made most sane people want to jab folded-up bottlecaps into their eardrums. It certainly couldn’t have been for the beer, because in case you’ve had your head in a keg for the past hundred years, American beer is horrible. It looks and tastes like urine, and has so little alcohol in it that the only way you can get any appreciable buzz off of it is to drink until your bladder becomes more distended than a Halliburton no-bid contract.
In fact, American culture seems to be built around our pathetic, piss-water pilsners. It isn’t enough for us to get stinking drunk whenever we want; no, we have to attach a "my dick-bladder is bigger than yours" contest to it all. From shotgunning to beer bongs to keg headstands, competitive beer drinking is not only a large part of our American culture, it’s practically the only reason 30% of young adults go to college. If you’re in college and you have a couple of hundred bucks to blow, try swapping out the American beer you use in your drinking games with real beer from Japan or Germany, and see how quickly everyone is on the floor writhing in pain. People will start vomiting up things they won’t even remember eating.
Still, what American beer lacks in alcohol, it makes up for in patriotism, which is why it’s still so popular across this country. Drinking a Bud is like drinking the American flag, minus any potential health benefits from the flag’s fiber. The only way you could make Budweiser a more prototypical American beverage would be to add high fructose corn syrup to it. It’d probably sell better than Bud Light with Lime, to be sure. Americans love their American beers, which is why it only makes sense that a foreign company would want to buy Anheuser-Busch, to get their hands on all of those beer-stained profit sheets.
Imagine my surprise, then, when InBev said that they were going to start marketing Budweiser across the world, claiming that Budweiser is like "America in a bottle." While I agree with the sentiment of Budweiser being an American flavour, the idea of marketing American beer to the world struck me as uniquely insane. It would be the equivalent of Mercedes-Benz buying Ford’s Edsel line and selling it in all corners of the earth. No one knows better than non-Americans that Americans have a predictably humourous (or is it humourously predictable) way of deluding themselves into thinking that their products and people have to be the best simply because they’re American. The rest of the world knows that our beer works better as a varnish than a beverage, so why would InBev even think of trying to sell it in countries that produce real beer?
Finally, though, the realization came upon me that the only reason InBev would want to ship Budweiser to all corners of the earth is precisely because it is so bad. Just like we need those fantasies of slapping our bosses around to help us deal with the pain of being bullied by those bosses, the rest of the world needs a release valve to help it deal with the fact that we’re the most dominant nation on the planet and we never let them forget about it. From our politicians to our music to our consumer culture, there are few places on this planet you can go without the heavy hand of America smothering everyone and everything. (We’ll probably spread our influence to those places, too, once we find oil there.) By sending Budweiser to all corners of the globe, it provides some much-needed levity to places where they hate our red, white, and blue guts. People there will be able to say, "We may not have America’s power or influence, and our government might get pushed around by theirs, and our culture may be becoming a poor imitation of theirs, but hey, at least we have decent beer."
I’ve never had a drop of alcohol in my entire life, but even I know how embarassing it will be to have Budweiser, and all that it represents, ridiculed on the international stage. That’s something that even I am willing to raise a glass to.