Craft Brew Crossover: Red Hook Meets Buffalo Wild Wings

redhook game changer handle - louisville beerThis week’s sign that some beer makers are still trying to figure out a way to make a “craft” beer they can also sell to your Corporate Light-drinking frat buddies is here: Redhook Brewery has teamed up with Buffalo Wild Wings to create an ale that attempts to cross craft-versus-corporate boundaries.

Announced back in the spring, Game Changer can now be had at Louisville-area Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants. Brandon Cutright, a manager at the Highlands location, said a 23-ounce Game Changer will cost five bucks. The beer contains 4.6 ABV and is rated at 25 IBU.

Which is to say that it’s sessionable and won’t overpower the regular Joe or Jane with hop bitterness.

“We’re not trying to get people who are already drinking craft beers,” Matt Licklider, director of brewing for Craft Brew Alliance, the Portland, Ore.-based parent company of Redhook Brewery, told “We’re trying to convert the 85 to 90 percent of people who are drinking domestics.”

Cutright said the ale was made specifically to go with hot wings; I didn’t have any wings during my recent B-Dubs visit, but did have a sample of Game Changer. Brewed with a blend of caramel malts and American-grown cascade hops, it’s about what you would expect: a very mild ale with only a hint of hop bitterness. In fact, the nose carries far more hops than the flavor, at least when tasted alone. One assumes the flavor benefits from the variety of sauces one can pair with it. Also, the tap handle looks like a remote control, which I guess is kind of cool.

Game Changer, in my mind, signals yet another play toward the growing awareness of craft beer; Redhook and Buffalo Wild Wings are betting people with timid palates who nevertheless want to feel like they are too refined for Corporate Light brews might latch onto this ale. Hey, if it can serve as a “gateway” beer to someone who may actually have a palate that is looking to expand, I’m all for it.

As always, drink happy and, whenever possible, drink local. (Meantime, if you want to try a Game Changer on the cheap, every Wednesday is $2.50 pint night at Buffalo Wild Wings.)

Also, don’t forget to make your submission to my Name This Blog contest. You can win free Louisville beer!

2 thoughts on “Craft Brew Crossover: Red Hook Meets Buffalo Wild Wings

    • Yeah, that’s the main reason I used “craft” in quotations. I was mostly interested in writing about the tactics they are using to try and woo light beer drinkers. It reminds me vaguely of the “macrobrews” A-B made back in the early 2000s. Like people wouldn’t notice?

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