You are currently viewing the International Edition. You can also switch to the Hong Kong Edition.
Monday 6 July 2015
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

4th April, 2014 by Dan Fox

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 *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

If that's interesting, how about these?

The week in pictures

Pub-friendly pooches, Kevin Spacey and a one-off tasting of Achaval Ferrer more...

Carlsberg creates beer-shampoo

Danish brewer Carlsberg has launched a new range of men’s grooming products more...

World's best beer and wine festivals

Forget Glastonbury, these are the festivals you should be making a beeline for more...

Social Media Editor

Competitive

Chinese student builds house out of beer bottles

An engineering graduate and his father have built a two-storey house made out more...

Diageo 'shelves' £240m Chinese scheme

Swellfun, the Chinese subsidiary of drinks giant Diageo, has reportedly more...

UK reviewing alcohol intake guidelines

Health officials are to review the government's drinking guidelines, as more...

International Business Development Assistant

London, United Kingdom

To be determined, based on the profile and experience of the candidate

Top 10 new craft beers

With new beers coming onto the market all the time, it can be difficult to keep more...

Coors Light heads home

Sometimes, the route to excellence is a process of devolution rather than more...

Danish festival recycles urine to make beer

The Roskilde festival in Denmark is hoping to collect 25,000 litres of “waste more...

Warehouse Supervisor

London, United Kingdom

£27,000-£30,000 depending on experience

Red wine could help fight depression

A component found in the skins of red grapes could be used to treat depression more...

Venezuela faces beer drought

Venezuela could soon entirely run out of beer as workers at the country's more...

Top 10 wines in the US press

A Texan Albariño, NY Riesling and Californian Syrah are among the wine tips more...

London Sales Manager / Key Account Manager

London, United Kingdom

Competitive - depending on skills and experience

Lidl hints at plans for online wine shop

UK supermarket Lidl has not ruled out launching an online wine shop, reporting more...

Hart Davis Hart biggest in US

Chicago-based wine auctioneer Hart Davis Hart is the market leader in the US in more...

Top 10 Hong Kong craft beer bars

Anyone looking to quench their thirst with a ginseng microbrew should more...

Global Wine Buyer

London, United Kingdom

Competitive

Oregon producer takes international view

One of Oregon’s youngest wine estates has partnered with Jackson Family Wines more...

Beck's forced to issue $50 refunds

Anyone that has bought a Beck's beer in the past four years could be entitled more...

US wine brand hopes to ape craft beer success

A wine brand from California is hoping to ape craft beer’s success in the UK more...

Business Development Executive

London, United Kingdom

£25-£30K + benefits, depending on experience

UK customs seize 550,000 litres of alcohol

More than 550,000 litres of illegal beer, wine and spirits have been seized by more...

World's cheapest city for a beer revealed

The average price of a bottle of beer is £1.07 in Krakow and Kiev, making them more...