Ciao'd while watching the Americans win at Wimbledon. In Britain. On July 4th.
I drowned my nationalism in a stale beer long before Budweiser was purchased by Belgian corporation AB InBev. Italy’s iconic beers were robbed from their cradles years ago. Ironically, AB InBev purchased Peroni, too, but then sold it off to Asahi. Moretti traded its Italian passport for a Dutch one when Heineken acquired it.
But this isn't about international beer intrigue. It’s about America, damn it. America the Budweiser. Budmerica. Bamerica. Amerweiser. For those of you who have sworn off all forms of media lately, I am referring to the rebranding of Budweiser to America for the next few months.
There are lots of Monday morning marketing quarterbacks calling America a parody and proclaiming that the rebranding is nothing more than red, white and blue lipstick smeared on an expat beer. REALLY? Could we perhaps, just perhaps, be over-intellectualizing this? It’s fun. It’s timely. And for pity’s sake, people, it’s just an (American) beer. Residing in Belgium’s stable, yes, but brewed in America, home of the free, the brave, and the Clydesdales. Also home of Peyton Manning, the greatest quarterback of all time, who promised to "drink a lot of Budweiser tonight" after hoisting the Super Bowl trophy.
Who’s the gal or guy in Budweiser marketing that made the decision – had the cojones – to wipe the brand off the Bud and put a generic America on it instead? In the risk-averse corporate cosmos, this was a strike of courage and brilliance. And who is the creative that designed the can? That would be the ingenious Tosh Hall and his team at Jones Knowles Ritchie.
If you can’t get beyond the “whys” and “wherefores” of the marketing strategy, maybe you’ll appreciate a few tidbits about the design. It wasn’t simply about erasing the Budweiser brand and replacing it with America. Budweiser is a hand-drawn script and therefore, America had to be hand-drawn, too. Check out the A. It’s as swirly as the original B. Masterful. All the new type on the can - the Pledge of Allegiance, America the Beautiful, etc. - was entirely hand-lettered, informed by the Budweiser archives. The red bow tie logo remains, but it resides on the back of the can. The level of craft (no pun intended) in designing this can is quite exceptional.
So how about this? This July 4th, why not just roll with it? You know one of your buddies will walk through the door with a 12-pack in hand (shout out to Dennis B.). Throw back a few Americas, wish the country a happy 240th, and toast Budweiser for making America great again in a guise that doesn’t involve a combover swoop.
And then dig into these beer-grilled clams. Use any beer you like. I’ve said my peace.
GRILLED CLAMS IN BEER, GARLIC, AND PARSLEY
No-fuss prep and fantastic flavor make this an ideal dish for summer barbecues.
Serves 8 as an appetizer; 4 as a main course
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
4 dozen clams (such as littlenecks), rinsed
1 bay leaf
¼ cup finely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
2 (12-ounce) cans lager-style beer
Juice of 2 lemons
Preheat a grill to medium.
In a large cast-iron or ovenproof skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic and red pepper (if using) and cook until the garlic becomes fragrant. Careful! Don’t burn it!
Put the clams in the pot with the bay leaf and parsley. Pour in the beer, cover, and bring to a boil. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and any clams that do not open.
If you’re not eating the clams straight from the pan (which is the fun way to do it), put them in a large, deep bowl or divide between 4 bowls. Squeeze the lemon juice into the clam broth and pour the broth over the clams. Don’t forget that crusty bread.