Miller To Test Lo-Cal Versions Of Its Craft Beers

Miller Brewing Co. will begin testing lite versions of its craft-style beers in February in four major markets.

The products, which are part of the Miller Lite Brewers Collection, will be lower in calories and carbs than other craft beers. Blonde Ale, Amber and Wheat will be tested in Minneapolis, Charlotte, N.C., San Diego, Calif., and Baltimore.

Benj Steinman, editor of Beer Marketer's Insights, tells Marketing Daily it is a first among the big four: Bud, Bud Lite, Coors Lite and Miller Lite. "It'll be an interesting test," he says. "This is the first of any of the big brands to get a craft halo." In fact, Steinman says, a Miller vice president recently told him the company hopes to put the "halo of craft beers on mainstream brands."

"Miller is seeking to again establish a whole new category for the beer industry--craft-style-light," Miller CMO Randy Ransom told the Business Journal of Milwaukee. "The brewer who can provide a more refreshing and drinkable craft style can stake out a whole new niche in the market. That's what we intend to do."



Miller Lite Brewers Collection is targeted to mainstream drinkers, and capitalizes on three trends that are driving much of the growth in the U.S. beer industry--including the shift toward light beer, a desire for more variety and "premiumization," according to Miller.

Sales of craft beers are growing at a faster pace than sales of all other categories of alcoholic beverages, the Brewers Association has reported. In 2006, craft beer sales increased 17.8%.

Miller Lite Brewers Collection Wheat will feature a subtle citrus character. The Amber is made with roasted malts and has a mild hops character. Blonde Ale will offer a "crispness and slight maltiness balanced by a recognizable hop aroma."

Miller Lite Brewers Collection will initially be available in six-pack bottles and priced between mainstream light beer and the typical craft beer.

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