A new commercial from wing and beer juggernaut Buffalo Wild Wings has home beer brewers a bit upset. The commercial, which began airing in August, depicts three friends watching football at home on a sofa surrounded by bubbling carboys (glass, 5-gallon bottles used by homebrewers for fermentation). One of the friends announces that he has made bratwurst beer for one friend and a “secret” beer for the other. The scene is less than flattering to the homebrewer.
The American Homebrewers Association, founded in 1978 by Charlie Papazian in Boulder, Colo., boasts more than 30,000 members who may be more than a little offended by the new commercial. According to the association’s website, there are an estimated 1 million homebrewers in the United States and over 1,000 homebrewing clubs. Last year 1,900 homebrewers attended the 2011 AHA National Homebrewers Conference in San Diego, Calif. That is a lot of potential customers to alienate.
Buffalo Wild Wings was founded in 1981 by James Disbrow who lived in Buffalo, N.Y., but had traveled to Kent, Ohio to judge a figure skating competition at Kent State. While in Kent, Disbrow went looking for a restaurant that served Baffalo-style wings, but was unable to find one. He teamed up with his friend, Scott Lowery and together they decided to open up their own restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. The first restaurant was called Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck, which was commonly shortened to BW3. Since those humble beginnings the company has changed its name to Buffalo Wild Wings and has expanded to more than 652 locations in 48 states and Canada.
One Jacksonville, Fla. Brewery’s owner and head brewer commented on the commercial on Facebook, “Hey Buffalo Wild Wings! Making fun of homebrewers and craft beer is not a smart marketing ploy. Wonder if the “Big Three” had any part in this.”
Another Facebook poster said, in response to the original post, “Definitely the wrong side of the craft beer movement to be on.”
And the comments were even more brutal on You Tube. Commenters on the video site did not hold back on expressing their ire with the company for running an ad that seems to belittle homebrewers. One commenter said, “You should learn to make good wings before you pick on the people that have taken the time to make good beer.”
“Don’t forget that many pro craft brewers began life as a homebrewer,” another You Tube commenter pointed out. “Ostracizing part of your demographic isn’t a good idea.”
Neither the American Homebrewers Association nor Buffalo Wild Wings’ home office responded to requests for comments.