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Foreign-owned Bud a wound to Americana

  • Story Highlights
  • Songwriter couldn't finish his Bud Light when he heard the news
  • College student says he felt proud to drink Bud
  • Outrage over Bud sale will soon fade, beer expert predicts
  • Americans increasingly turning to microbrews, expert says
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By Brad Lendon and Mallory Simon
CNN
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(CNN) -- Philip McClary was grilling out at his home in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, on Sunday night when he heard hometown brewer Anheuser-Busch would be bought by the Belgian company InBev.

"I was actually drinking a Bud Light when I heard, and I couldn't even finish it. That's the honest-to-God truth," he said Monday.

"I was proud to drink Budweiser, not any more," said P.J. Champion, a student at the University of Mississippi who said the brew is "a great piece of American history."

McClary put Champion's thoughts to music, posting his song "Kiss Our Glass" on YouTube and on a Web site that tried to stop the sale, SaveBudweiser.com. Video Watch McClary sing 'Kiss our Glass' »

"America is not for sale, and neither is her beer," McClary sings.

"All you hard-working Americans stand up and show some class," the song continues, "Have a drink with Mother Freedom, and tell InBev to kiss your glass."

Such outrage is to be expected, says Matt Simpson, who bills himself as The Beer Sommelier and teaches Beer Education 101 at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. But he said the protests will soon fade.

"Unless it affects [Americans] in the product or the pocketbook, they're likely to forget about it," Simpson says. And he doesn't think InBev will change its iconic product.

"You don't mess with a good thing," he says. "It really isn't about nationalism, it's about money."

Even McClary agrees.

"I think there will be somewhat of a backlash; I would anticipate initially that people will be furious and stop drinking it. Maybe after six months, though, they'll switch back."

Simpson says that if American beer drinkers turn away from Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch brands, it will be because they are turning to microbrews.

"They are heading the pack in popularity and business success these days," he says of the small breweries. "Today, taste is king. You really don't get from the macro beer producers." See other American icons owned by foreign companies »

But he doesn't expect Budweiser to go away, either.

"There's nothing inherently wrong with the taste of Budweiser. It's a light American lager. There will always be some sort of market for that," he says.

For McClary, taste was never an issue. "I've drank tons of different beers, different brands; but Bud Light has always been the one to me that was the easiest to go down and had the smoothest taste."

But he says he's quaffed his last Bud Light, and the issue is larger than beer.

"We've kind of lost a part of our history here and all across the United States," he said.

InBev says it won't be changing Budweiser or Bud Light, which it says are the best-selling beers in the world.

"Budweiser will be brewed in the same breweries ... by the same people, according to the same recipe," said Carlos Brito, InBev's chief executive officer.

But iReporter Adam Williams, who lives across the street from Anheuser-Busch's St. Louis brewery, doesn't share that feeling of a continued tradition.

Things will change, Williams says, right down to the company's mascot Dalmatians that have been a constant commotion in the neighborhood.

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"I will miss the nuisance that ... the Budweiser Dalmatians have meant around our neighborhood," he writes. "They may still exist over there for some time to come, but their kingdom's significance has severely diminished.

"What is the mascot of InBev, anyway?"

CNN's David Williams contributed to this report.

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