Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

American Drinkers Still Love a Cold Budweiser, UBS Survey Finds

Bearded craft brewers, take heed: It’s no easy feat dethroning the king of beers.

Most Americans believe Budweiser is a high quality brew they would recommend to a friend -- even over a craft beer -- according to a survey published in a UBS Group AG note Thursday. That’s consoling news for owner Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, which has seen Bud’s U.S. market share decline for several years now as smaller brewers gain favor.

Less than half of drinkers say the quality of craft beers is superior to established brands like Bud and Bud Light, and about half believe old-school brews are superior to newer types, the survey of 1,200 regular alcohol drinkers found.

“Encouragingly for AB InBev, heritage brands are more strongly associated with quality” than craft brands, UBS analyst Nik Oliver said in a note.

The surprisingly favorable perception of AB InBev’s beers in the U.S. comes as the world’s largest brewer is considering a takeover of its nearest rival SABMiller Plc, whose stable includes mainstream brands like Miller Lite and Coors Light. AB InBev has boosted marketing to counter the rise of craft beers, and has also acquired smaller brewers like Goose Island, Elysian Brewing Co. and 10 Barrel Brewing Co. UBS expects AB InBev brands to return to growth in the U.S. next year.

Budweiser poked fun at microbrew drinkers in its Super Bowl commercial this year. Its claim to be a “macro beer” that “isn’t brewed to be fussed over” may be more than marketing bluster.

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