When an oversized package from Budweiser appeared at the LA Weekly office last week, we were befuddled to discover that it contained just one single can of beer. But it wasn't just any old can of beer nestled neatly into a glossy gift box — it was a limited edition, bow-tie-shaped can of Budweiser, which will only be available in an 8-pack in supermarkets and liquor stores beginning today.
An accompanying double-sided press release told us that “this can is incomparable, like nothing you've ever seen before,” according to Anheuser-Busch vice president of innovation, Pat McGauley. What exactly is it about this stylish, bow-tie-shaped can that's so incomparable, we wondered. On a superficial level, it mimics the shape of Budweiser's triangular logo, but does it serve any sort of functional purpose that enhances its flavor, drinkability, or temperature?
According to the press release, no. But surely there had to be some practical advantage to this new design for which Anheuser-Buch had to invest in new equipment to upgrade packaging lines at their Budweiser breweries in Williamsburg, Virginia — and locally in Van Nuys, California. Could it be that a 137-year-old beer company engineered its new cans specifically to shotgun, or, to punch a hole in its slenderized middle and rapidly slurp its contents?
In order to test our completely-speculative theory, we asked two willing study participants to shotgun the classic can of Budweiser beer, while we tackled the new bow-tie design. Surprisingly, the new can's aluminum was harder to puncture and tougher to crush. According to McGauley, “aluminum can be stretched only about 10 percent without fracturing, which requires that the angles of the bowtie be very precise.”
Manufacturing the bow-tie can involves a 16-step process (10 steps to form the bottom half of the can, and six more steps to craft the top portion) was so sturdy and precise that it failed our shotgunning experiment, proving itself merely a pretty package. Even though the bow-tie design accommodates less beer (11.3 ounces compared to the traditional 12-ounce), and thus, nearly 10 fewer calories than its original, you'll likely pay more for the same Budweiser in a new package. After all, somebody's got to pay for those brewery equipment upgrades.
“This can is… eye-catching, easy-to-grip, trendy and — according to our research — very appealing to young adults,” McGauley boasts on the press release. But without any functional advantage, especially when it comes to the sloppy collegiate tradition of shotgunning, we're not so sure exactly what the young adult appeal really is.
(Disclosure and editor's note: LA Weekly did not ask for this sample, nor do we endorse drinking Budweiser in any way or in any form. Really. Also, no interns were harmed, or used for that matter, in the making of this post. As for whether anybody actually consumed alcohol on the beach, well, no.)