Budweiser ups creativity in 2nd round of Project 12

Colin Joliat

Budweiser’s Project 12 is back for round two, and this year the brewers pushed the envelope even further. You can tell from first glance these aren’t your granddad’s Buds.

Last year Budweiser challenged its brewers to create whatever beer they wanted. The only stipulation was that it used the Budweiser yeast and stayed true to the overall profile of the brand. The result was the Project 12 sampler packs and ultimately Budweiser Black Crown.

Project 12.2 hits shelves next week, and this time the brewers really cut loose. The color alone will tell you these are more than just a few extra ingredients tossed into the same old beer. I got my hands on them early, as you can tell from the photo, and was pleasantly surprised.

Batch 94534 (Fairfield, CA): Brewed with a unique blend of North Pacific hop varieties, including Cascade and Palisade, this bold, hoppy lager has a 5.5% ABV and offers a distinct taste of the American Northwest.

They weren’t joking when they said they upped the hops. It’s not an 90-IBU American Pale Ale, but there is a big jump between a normal Bud and this. Cascade and Palisade hops are for bittering and aroma, but in this case it’s primarily just aroma.

Batch 23185 (Williamsburg, VA): Aged on a bed of bourbon barrel staves and vanilla beans, this light amber lager indulges the sweet side and features a 5.5% ABV.

The Vanilla Bourbon dips a toe into the barrel aged pool, with a clear bourbon taste. It’s subtle but instantly recognizable. The vanilla is slight, but adds a noticeable sweetness.

Batch 43229 (Columbus, OH): Brewed with chocolate and caramel malts for a rich auburn appearance and finished on Beechwood chips for a crisp, clean taste, this deep amber lager has a 6% ABV.

Beechwood chips to help in aging are nothing new for the brand, but the addition of chocolate and caramel malts is a major departure. The chocolate is feint but noticeable, with just the right amount of presence to not overwhelm the beer.

The backbone of each iteration is still clearly Budweiser, but they pack a more creative punch. You aren’t going to mistake Project 12 for big craft beers, but it’s a welcome step in that direction. Cheers, Anheuser-Busch. Ya done did good.