Dan Fox
The views expressed in db Reader do not represent the views of the drinks business.

Big Beer’s idea of innovation? More alcohol

Exactly what Colt 45’s legendary spokesperson, Billy Dee WIlliams, meant by “works every time” was left to the imagination.

8722735But the “it” responsible was generally taken as a reference to the malt liquor’s higher abv (alcohol by volume) level.

Although all the major brewers offered malt liquors at one time or another, their efforts were more half-hearted. Little was invested in marketing lest cries of “Irresponsible!” arise from pressure groups, regulators, and legislators.

Big Beer’s higher-alcohol retreat opened territory that craft beers ultimately came to occupy. Ask any beer drinker these days to name a higher-alcohol beer, and the answer will almost certainly be a craft brand.

The abv level for most mainstream beers is below 5%. Above that, well, just visit a brewpub and read the chalkboard*. So, what’s Big Beer to do?

At MillerCoors, they call it “innovation,” but it seems to come down pretty much to lacing whatever’s in the bottle with more alcohol. 8586198 The recently launched Miller Fortune’s 6.9% abv level is substantially above traditional malt liquor, and 60% higher than light beer.

Miller Fortune aims to compete with spirits, even suggesting it be poured into a “rocks glass” as shown here. (Why not a shot glass?) High-alcohol is part of that move. Of the major brewers, Anheuser-Busch Inbev has the lead in pushing up alcohol levels. Although carrying Bud Light Lime branding– Bud Light Lime beer is 4.2% abv– the growing line of “Ritas” delivers nearly double that. At 8.0% abv, alcoholically speaking, Rita apparently hooks up with Mike, whose “Harder Punch” is up there, too. Some of the Fortune ads even get pretty close to selling alcohol-effect, long a no-no for Big Beer. 5656375

And remember that “innovation guy” at Miller Coors? On stage at the brewer’s just-concluded convention, he posed a question: “What do we need for Redd’s?” (the 5% abv cider launched last year).

He answered his own question with another one: “How about higher abv?” And then he went on to introduce “Redd’s Wicked” with 8% abv, a 60% alcohol increase. More high-alcohol “innovation” to make Mike, Rita, and Redd a sloshy threesome.

Not that long ago, Pabst, the current owner of the Colt 45 brand, may have touched Big Beer’s high-alcohol limit – to say nothing of a lack-of-responsibility limit – with its “Blast:” 12% abv, kids’ candy flavours, and ads so irresponsible, they almost seem to be a parody. Here’s how one alcohol-awareness group showcased it.

 

Still, I wouldn’t bet the oh-so-clever MillerCoors innovation guy hasn’t already got some of his minions mixing up still higher-alcohol brews right now. “Totally Blasted Redd’s?” “Silver Bullet Hollow-Point?” “Miller Higher Life?” Hey, it’s innovation!

* And now in role-reversal fashion, craft brewers are actually heading to lower-alcohol territory with their session beers, generally registering below 5% abv.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Sales Support Executive

Davy's
London, UK

Partner Manager – On-trade - Greater London

Maverick Drinks
London/M25 belt, UK

Partner Manager – On-trade - North West

Maverick Drinks
Manchester, UK

Partner Manager – On-trade - West & Wales

Maverick Drinks
Bristol, UK

Partner Manager – On-trade - South East

Maverick Drinks
Brighton, UK

Events Sales Executive

The Drinks Business
Central London, UK

Sale & Operations Manager

Marussia Beverages
Marylebone, London, UK

Prestige Account Manager – Europe

Jackson Family Wines
London, UK

Pink Rosé Festival

Cannes,France
7th Feb 2018

VinoVision Paris

Paris,France
12th Feb 2018

Vinisud

Montpellier,France
18th Feb 2018
Click to view more

Champagne Masters 2017

The only Champagne blind tasting in the UK, the competition will reward the best wines in the following categories:

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

Click to view more