Drinkers who have been led to believe that Milwaukee's Best beer could be improved upon in a "premium" form have been misled. After a four-month Voracious investigation, a spokesperson for Milwaukee's Best Premium's parent company, Miller Brewing Co., has confirmed that Milwaukee's Best Premium is the exact same recipe as Milwaukee's Best, but in a new packaging and with a new name.
"The change from Milwaukee's Best to Milwaukee's Best Premium is a packaging change only and was part of a larger initiative to refresh the entire Below Premium category. Keystone Light, Icehouse and High Life underwent packaging refreshes at the same time. The words "Light" and "Ice" were brought to the forefront for Milwaukee's Best Light, and the word "Premium" was added to full-calorie Milwaukee's Best Premium and positioned in the same way. There was no change made to the formula. The recipe that makes Milwaukee's Best Light what it is remained as it's always been."Milwaukee's Best, better known as "The Beast" was a gateway beer that introduced many PBR drinkers, including this reporter, to the joys of headaches and hangovers in college. The brand underwent the makeover last spring with no fanfare at all. Voracious has been unable to find even a single reference to the name change online, and a couple user reviews on taste-making web site, BeerAdvocate.com, wonder aloud what the deal is with Milwaukee's Best Premium, and one drinker remarked, "Premium? Yeah, it is better than regular Milwaukee's best."
The spokesperson says the change was made "in attempt to gain distribution and effectively position our brands to grow share and improve brand margins. As we saw with Keystone Light's growth during 2008, a packaging redesign can be an important factor in a brand's success and overall health. In looking across our portfolio, we felt now was the perfect time to refresh and reinforce the brand identities of some of our most important brands in the category; showing our devotion to the segment while working to accelerate these brands' popularity at a key point in their existence."
It certainly is a key point in the gateway beer's existence. With the increased popularity of caffeine-enhanced party-pushers like Four Loko, beer drinkers have begun to wonder if kids today would ever get their fists around an 18-pack of beer on a Thursday nights during their formative, palate-developing years. Putting off such a ritual -- and the ensuing maturity -- endangers the growing sector of growler-toting, filter-free beer-loving Seattleites that got started by buying beers in cardboard boxes that doubled as furniture and held cans in increments of 18 and 30.
Miller's move with the Beast appears to be a good-faith move to ensure the development of curious beer drinking nationwide.
"Like most packaging changes, they were done in attempt to gain distribution and effectively position our brands to grow share and improve brand margins," says the spokesperson. "As we saw with Keystone Light's growth during 2008, a packaging redesign can be an important factor in a brand's success and overall health."
Put simply: You can take The Beast out of the can, but you can't take the Beast out of the Beast.