Saturday, 16 March 2013

Pedigree yo-yo

Four years ago, I reported how Marston’s had increased the strength of bottled Pedigree (but not draught or canned) from 4.5% ABV to 5.0%, presumably so it could compete on level terms with “heavy-hitters” of the premium bottled ale market such as Tanglefoot and Abbot Ale. However, I recently noticed that they have stealthily brought it back down again to 4.5%. I don’t remember seeing any announcement about this, so I’m not sure how long it’s been the case. I think the photo, from the Marston’s website, still shows it as 5.0% on the neck label.

To be honest, the 5.0% version always seemed a touch unbalanced, with a noticeable alcohol character you don’t generally find in beers of that strength, and it’s a better all-round beer at 4.5%. There are still plenty of stronger beers in the Marston’s portfolio such as Old Empire, Hobgoblin and Ringwood Fortyniner. But is this another sign that 4.5% is becoming a kind of de facto maximum strength above which brewers are increasingly reluctant to venture for mainstream products?

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