“Woke Free” Beer Proves We’re in the Dark Age of Alcohol Gimmicks
Where there’s a market, there’s someone ready to capitalize on $19.99 6-packs
In April, Donald Trump’s former 2016 Georgia campaign director Seth Weathers announced a Bud Light alternative meant for conservatives: Ultra Right Beer. The brand was quickly piggybacking off of the conservative uproar after Dylan Mulvaney, who is transgender, posted a photo with Bud Light cans on Instagram, and the debut came complete with a video ad that could be mistaken for an SNL skit. Weathers is now claiming the brand has made $1 million in revenue off of its $19.99 six-packs since the launch date. That number has been thrown out in media stories as proof that there’s demand for this, and it’s what the people want. What it’s really an example of, however, is how we’ve officially entered a new stage in this modern alcohol-soaked chapter of politics-tinged, quick-money beer gimmicks.
“America’s been drinking beer from a company that doesn’t even know which restroom to use,” the website reads. “That’s why we made Conservative Dad’s ULTRA RIGHT 100% Woke-Free American Beer. If you know which restroom to use, you know what beer you should be drinking. Stop giving money to companies who hate our values.”
Not one to miss a talking point, the founder added that Ultra Right is supporting the conservative movement to pack school boards as well. “Conservatives have had enough of woke corporations, and they’re fighting back with their wallet,” he said, according to FOX. “We’re doing our part to fight for the causes that matter to our customers by donating a portion of sales to defeating woke school board members across the country.”
As Paste notes, there’s a question of whether Weathers is even a big beer drinker. One of his first moves against the Bud Light and Mulvaney controversy was tweeting that beer “increases estrogen” in men just weeks before launching Ultra Right. Assuming this isn’t some misguided backdoor way to increase the estrogen in deeply conservative crusaders, it’s an interesting market for Weathers to jump into. But it’s not Weathers’s first attempt to capitalize on the outraged conservative headline of the moment. He also sold “Let’s Go Brandon” wrapping paper when that was trending (but was woke enough to distance himself from an initial promotion with Kanye West).
This time around, it appears Weathers announced the beer and set the price before any beer was actually made (it’s now sold in Georgia and Arkansas). Clearly, this is not a beer with an outrageous price point based on flavor profile, but one solely sold on the fact that a certain set of conservatives will throw money at just about anything that publicly defines them as “anti-woke.”
The first descriptions of the brand described it as an “airy special golden ale blend,” but it’s now been switched to a lager. “Ultra,” it should be noted, is already a term identified with the well-selling lager Michelob Ultra, which is owned by none other than the company Weathers is trying to counter. Paste discovered it’s brewed at least in part by contract producer Big Kettle Brewing in Georgia after Illinois brewery Bent River Brewing backed out when it saw the marketing. Nothing against Big Kettle Brewing, but it’s never going to be the partner Weathers needs if he actually wants to compete with the Bud Light drinker market. A single brewery location of AB InBev’s in Columbus, Ohio, for example, can make 5.6 million cans of beer a day.
While conservative media outlets tout the supposed $1 million in sales, others see just how easy it is to poke fun at Ultra Right. “Wait, is boycotting companies woke or not? I can’t tell any more,” one commenter wrote on a BeerAdvocate thread. Another added, “Finally some beer to pair with their whine.”
It’s hard to find anything from someone who has actually tried the beer, though a BeerAdvocate commenter described the experience as a wild ride. The first can was “horrendous (very metallic aftertaste),” followed up by a “surprisingly drinkable” second can and ending with a third can that was “beer butt chicken.”
At $19.99 for a six-pack (again, not a typo), it’s hard to imagine anyone buying this beer for the taste alone. Truthfully, the main thing that’s “ultra” about this beer is the price. The 4.8% beer avoids adjuncts, like many craft light lagers, and uses only barley, water, hops and yeast. But craft breweries are already increasingly making incredible light lagers because that’s what people like drinking — and those don’t often go for the ultra premium price point.
Instead, people are buying it because it’s a statement, like wearing a MAGA hat or a leather jacket with “where woke goes to die” on the back. Targeting statement buyers is nothing new (Budweiser put out an “America” can in 2016, after all), but those novelty buys only get a company so far before people are over the gimmick — especially at a non-competitive price point. Case in point: even though Bud Light sales dropped for a few months as some drinkers tried to make a statement by not buying one of the most-sold beers in the world, most of those drinkers plan to go back to buying Bud Light by the end of the year.
In addition to the high price, anyone who wants a taste but can’t find it at the store will have to wait quite a bit of time for their first sip. Ultra Right ships orders “within 30 days.” Perhaps people looking to make a statement with their drink choice before the hype dies down can show their $19.99 receipt while they wait.
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