New brews from Bud, Miller hike the alcohol

They're trying to regain ground lost to stronger craft beers and shed the 'watery' reputation of their light beers.

By Jonathan Berr Aug 19, 2013 12:20PM
Two pints of beer on barrel (© Adermark Media/Flickr/Getty Images)If you're Anheuser-Busch In-Bev (BUD) and MillerCoors, which have battled stagnant beer demand for years, here's a simple way to create more buzz for your products: ratchet up their alcohol content.

According to Advertising Age, MillerCoors, which is a joint venture between SABMiller and Molson Coors (TAP), plans to introduce Miller Fortune next year, which has 6.9% alcohol by volume (ABV). A-B InBev recently began selling Bud Light Platinum and Budweiser Black Crown, which each have about 6% ABV. Most light beers have 4.2% ABV.

The premium-price potent brews helped boost sales at AB-InBev in the most recent quarter even though volumes fell. The brewers are betting that increasing ABV will help blunt the impact of the surging popularity of craft beers and other types of alcoholic drinks that have flattened sales of light beer in recent years.

As I recently noted on moneyNOW, market research by Consumer Edge cited by CNBC found out that 40% of drinkers in the 21-27 age group have grown "tired of the taste" of premium light beers, and 37% described them as "watery."
 
Miller Fortune will broadly appeal to men born in the 1980s-2000s, "but it's got a sweet spot with Hispanics and African-Americans," MillerCoors VP-innovation David Kroll  told Ad Age. That concerns activist groups such as Alcohol Justice, which are worried that brewers are targeting more potent beverages to minorities.

Booze's harm to the U.S., such as crime and disease, is about $94 billion annually, according to the activists, which works out to about 80 cents per drink. David Jernigan, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Ad Age that brewers used code words such as "edge" to get around legal prohibitions against touting the alcoholic strength of their products.

Shares of A-B InBev now trade around $97.50, having surged more than 23% over the past year. Molson Coors is just over $50, rising by 17.5% so far in 2013.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

More on moneyNOW

Tags: BUDTAP
149Comments
Aug 19, 2013 12:47PM
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"The brewers are betting that increasing ABV will help blunt the impact of the surging popularity of craft beers and other types of alcoholic drinks that have flattened sales of light beer in recent years."

 

Why don't they try making craft beer themselves.  How about increasing the taste instead of the alcohol.

Aug 19, 2013 1:31PM
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They can crank up the ABV all they want, if it still tastes like pss water, it isn't going to sell.

 

Good beer isn't good because of a high ab\v, but because it is made with thought and creativity.

 

The old business model of macro-brewing no longer works.

Aug 19, 2013 2:24PM
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I am 54 and absolutely cannot believe, how popular light beer is. What the hell are you men thinking? A real man drinks full body, full taste beer, with usually more alcohol content. He has self control, or a designated driver. and ends up drinking less which means it costs less. A light beer is watered down, so ya piss all night, has less alcohol and costs more money. Why does anybody except women drink it? 
Aug 19, 2013 1:35PM
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I'm kinda already over the high ABV content fad. There's no way Bud and Coors could compete with Dogfish Head, Russian River or Sam Adams Utopia for high ABV anyways. Rather have a beer that's drinkable than ones that packs a punch but is hard to drink.
Aug 19, 2013 1:50PM
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"Miller Fortune will broadly appeal to men born in the 1980s-2000s"  Is this a quote from Miller or a quote from Jonathan Berr?  I'm interested in the marketing concept of appealing an alcoholic beverage to 13 year olds born in the 2000s...
Aug 19, 2013 2:37PM
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Agreed, better beers. I don't want all that high ABV. 4.5% is fine by me. The taste, quality, that is what I want.
Aug 19, 2013 2:05PM
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yeah when you put standard American beers which usually are brewed for 48hrsin metal vats up against beers from the UK and Europe which take months to mature in wood casks  they all taste like gnats piss...but some of the new craft beers are stacking up very well yum!
Aug 19, 2013 2:51PM
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"To beer. The cause of, and solution to, all the worlds problems"

                                                                             -H.J. Simpson

Aug 19, 2013 1:35PM
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Beck's Sapphire, also owned by InBev, is new and 6%, too.  I prefer the smoothness and darkness of Beck's Dark.
Aug 19, 2013 3:26PM
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Find a microbrew that is 7-9% abv.  Plenty that have good flavor, and the higher abv means you actually buy less beers (if you have self control).  I'd rather drink 3-4 good tasting, high abv during a night out with friends than drink 12 bottles of piss water.
Aug 19, 2013 3:05PM
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Not sure what the point of this article is? High alcohol content means nothing without flavor. I thought they learned this with the failed Ice Beer fad. They need to just work on making craft beers properly, and stop using cheap adjuct ingredients like rice and corn. Also, the marketing spent on these garbage beers doesn't help. Things like "vortex bottles", "vent cans", and prompting consumers to drink beer ice cold (to mask bad mouthfeel and taste) just annoy any beer connoisseur.
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They will just add more rice and corn to get the ABV up, then add some artificial flavoring and carmel coloring to the CRAP they make now.

Take a hint BudCoorsMillerMolson Brewing Co.

USE MALTED BARLEY, HOPS, YEAST, and WATER toi make a better tasting beer!

Reinheitsgebot

Google it! live it, love it!



Aug 19, 2013 2:55PM
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Bud and Miller are essentially wasting precious natural resources

and should stop brewing.  Nobody wants corporation beers.

Aug 19, 2013 3:05PM
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Lol, I live in Oregon - we don't drink that crap.
Aug 19, 2013 1:59PM
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aaaaaannnnd...nobody cares!

Beer should never be m****duced boys. That's why they're seeing a tremendous drop in sales year to year. Microbrews got it right and make a better product. Why in the world anybody would want to drink m****duced swill is beyond me? And I love the die-hard, dedicated morons who just won't give up Bud and Miller. Bud isn't even owned by an American company anymore. I have to laugh when I see people waste their money on that garbage.

Aug 19, 2013 2:24PM
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I would like more taste and less cost. I wonder what the markup is per bottle/can.
Aug 19, 2013 2:36PM
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I grew up drinking Fullers London Pride which is fairly low Alcohol.

Due to the fact people in the UK like a "Drinking" beer not high octane. Now I drink Stone's IPA or

Sculpin.

 

I  

Aug 19, 2013 2:39PM
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Flush twice,,,its a long way to the light beer brewery.
Aug 19, 2013 3:13PM
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WHO CARES I'M STILL BOYCOTTING THEM SINCE THEY CONTROL TOO MUCH OF THE

MARKET AND MAKING THEIR NASTY HORSE PISS BEER STRONGER WON'T HELP! I'M

SUPPORTING SAMUEL ADAMS AND MICRO BREWERIES AND IMPORTS! F BUD AND MILLER.

I GUESS THOSE NEW BOTTLES DIDN'T HELP MILLER LITE'S TASTE AND SALES AND BUD

WITH THEIR BUD LIGHT AND BUD LIGHT LIME TO GET THE LATINO AND COLLEGE DRINKERS!

 

Aug 19, 2013 3:53PM
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brew all you want I'm not paying 4.00 4.50 a pint for a beer. then top it off with the bartender only pouring about 14 ounces. I'll drink at home.
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