The response has been loud enough that Bud Light put out a statement from its fictional king the evening of February 6, three days after the Super Bowl. (In addition to sniping back and forth with MillerCoors CCO.) The statement starts, "Yeeeesh! That escalated quickly."
"In the Bud Light Kingdom we love corn too!" it continues, offering a low five to offended corn lovers. "My royal accountant actually tried to get me to brew with corn syrup to save money. But, even though corn syrup is less expensive, we brew with rice, along with the finest hops, barley, and water, because I'm the King and it's not my job to save money."
The suggestion is that, though it's unsaid in the commercial, the criticism was that competitors use cheap products. It doesn't deny any other implications but seems to set aside any accusations that it was misleading about the role of corn syrup in brewing.
"Brewers have a lot of tools in their toolbox," says Surly head brewer Ben Smith. "For Budweiser to call out their competitors for using corn syrup is definitely an example of the pot calling the kettle black as they use a variety of different sugar sources other than malted barley in their brands. Craft brewers are the same; we use dextrose, lactose, fruit, and some of my peers even use cinnamon rolls to provide fermentable sugars and flavor in beer."
Tonks calls the corn syrup in the commercial a "red herring."
So, the big question is whether or not you should give a damn whether there's corn providing the essential sugars in your favorite beer. The answer is not really. Not if you enjoy the beer. "Bud makes a big stink about how rice is so expensive and rare and hard to come by," says Tonks, "but corn is no less an integral element in American lager brewing tradition and, in my opinion, often produces superior flavor. We've used corn in many different forms, in many different beers, for many different reasons. Denigrating its use in beer really seems more like a 1990s craft beer move than anything else."