New York Brewer Anheuser-Busch on Monday said it would introduce a caffeinated, sweet-flavored beer for twentysomething club-goers to compete with the flavored rums and vodkas gaining ground on the dance floor.
The new beer B(E) -- read as "B to the E power" -- will roll out in several phases starting in November. Advertising will focus on in-store merchandising and promotions at bars and nightclubs, with some local print work and online marketing, Anheuser-Busch officials said.
"Distilled spirits are definitely in the background of this decision," Bob Lachky, vice president of brand management at Anheuser-Busch, said during a conference call. "Sweeter flavors have definitely made an impact on 21- to 35-year-olds. ... It's a bigger part of the alcohol drinking spectrum."
B(E) infuses beer with caffeine, guarana and ginseng, along with berry aromas for a sweeter, tart taste at 6.6 percent alcohol by volume, said company brewmaster Nathaniel Davis.
Anheuser-Busch designed the new brew for 21- to 27-year-old drinkers who seek novel beverages and switch drinks more frequently according to mood and occasion, the company said.
"It's indicative of how seriously Anheuser-Busch is taking this challenge from the liquor folks ... who are growing faster than beer," said Eric Shepard, executive editor of Beer Marketer's Insights.
B(E) will be priced slightly higher than the company's flagship Budweiser beer and packaged in slimmer 10-ounce cans.
The new beer has a relatively high carbohydrate count, despite a trend in the industry highlighting lower-carb beers to match popular U.S. diet plans.
"The majority of beer drinkers and people we are trying to approach with this product are not terribly concerned with carbs all the time," Lachky said.