Unpacking Elizabeth Warren's Critique Of Michelob Ultra As "The Club Soda Of Beers"

Elizabeth Warren, the senior senator for Massachusetts, announced on December 31 that she will launch an exploratory committee to seek the Democratic nomination for President in 2020. She's the first major candidate to do so, and as such, has come in for a lot of valuable scrutiny with regard to her policies and platforms, and a lot of less valuable scrutiny about whether or not she's "likable." 

We here at The Takeout are not political reporters or policy wonks. We write about Burger King's weird antics and whether or not the Instant Pot is a great rice cooker. (It is.) But the scrutiny of the positions and beliefs of our representatives in government is essential, and so we, too, must take our turn when the situation demands it. Democracy dies in darkness, etc., and so we must ask:

Senator Warren, what exactly do you mean when you describe Michelob Ultra as the club soda of beers?

Some context: On New Year's Eve, the day she officially announced her exploratory committee and a campaign trip to Iowa, Warren filmed an Instagram Live video in her kitchen, during which she said, "Hold on a sec. I'm gonna get me a beer," then briefly walked out of the frame (presumably to her fridge) before returning with a beer. Her hand covered the label.

The video has since been criticized by Fox News talking heads and others. When asked about the video, as the Boston Globe reports, Warren said it was "one more way to be able just to invite people into your home," and more importantly for our purposes, told America what kind of beer she was drinking. Here, again, is her response:

"I drink Michelob Ultra—the club soda of beers."

So what, pray tell, does that mean? Is it compliment or an insult?

I can find no references to Anheuser-Busch's Michelob Ultra as a particularly effective stain remover, so that's not why it's the club soda of beers. I cannot imagine it would serve well as a mixer for vodka, gin, or Scotch, so it's perhaps safe to assume that that's not why it's the club soda of beers. Nor is it non-alcoholic. It does not come in tiny clear bottles. It is not easily confused with tonic. This American light lager cannot be consumed on its own with lime in a highball glass, a presentation that makes it seem as if the drinker is drinking a cocktail while eating all the free food at the happy hour when in reality she has not actually paid for anything.

This leaves a few possibilities. Michelob Ultra may be the club soda of beers because:

  • It, like club soda, is low in calories. Michelob Ultra has 95. Club soda has none.
  • It, like club soda, has a relatively low alcohol content. The A.B.V. of Michelob Ultra is 4.2 percent. The A.B.V. of club soda is 0.0 percent.
  • Club soda is often referred to in a manner that suggests that it's bland or milquetoast. Here is a recent review of Michelob Ultra, from a user on BeerAdvocate.com:
  • And that's actually the likeliest reason for Senator Elizabeth Warren of the great state of Massachusetts describing Michelob Ultra as the club soda of beers: "It tastes like carbonated water... there's nothing here. This could be a good thing, depending on who you are, I suppose... What is the point of this? To act drunk at a fancy party?"

    It tastes like carbonated water. Club soda is carbonated water with minerals and stuff added. Seems pretty clear. But one question remains: Does Senator Warren like these drinks, or is she casting aspersions on one by comparing it to the other?

    We have reached out to both Anheuser-Busch and Senator Warren's office for comment on this important story. Check back for updates.