Friday 4 July 2008

The 4% solution?

I see that InBev are planning to launch a 4% ABV version of Stella Artois in the UK. Obviously this is an indication that Peeterman, the existing 4% little brother to Stella, has proved a failure.

On the face of it, this seems like diluting the brand, although given full-strength Stella’s nickname of “wife-beater” it’s questionable how much reputation there is left to dilute.

There can be no doubt, though, that the “standard lager” category is one of the dullest and most jaded in the entire drinks market, so you can understand the brewers’ desire to stimulate interest in it. Brands such as Carling and Foster’s are looking very tired nowadays.

A few years ago I was in a pub in the Midlands and saw five working-class, middle-aged blokes in succession come in and order a pint of Carling each. This really underlined how standard lager has usurped the position of “ordinary” bitter as the default choice for the undiscerning, non trend conscious drinker. In contrast, more and more, those choosing lower gravity cask beers will be offered an ever changing variety of products and will take an active interest in what they’re drinking.

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