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Saturday, February 24, 2007

A-B Has Bucket Full of New Launches

Anheuser-Busch is rolling new beers off the assembly line at a pace that is nearly impossible to imagine. The launch schedule is so frenetic that even A-B distributors must have difficulties at times figuring out which brands in a supermarket cold case belong to them.

On Tuesday the St. Louis based giant will release Spring Heat Spiced Wheat, a Belgian-style wheat ale that was available in limited markets on draught last year. This year it will be on draught and in 12 and 24 ounce bottles. The unfiltered 5.2 percent alcohol by volume beer is flavored with orange, lemon and lime peels, plus coriander.

In a move that is an obvious counter to Miller Chill, media reports say that A-B has a chelada or two of its own ready to roll. Applications before the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau indicate Budweiser and Clamato and Bud Light and Clamato cheladas are on the launch pad. The 24 ounce cans for the products will carry both English and Spanish language labels.

If tomato juice and beer is not your style, how about a tea-flavored beer? A-B is prepared to break with a brand called Evolve in black and green tea flavors. The drink is expected to weigh in at 4.2 percent alcohol by volume.

Finally, the company showed off Bud Extra, a 6.6 percent alcohol by volume beer infused with guarana and ginseng, to attendees at the National Association of Convenience Stores recent annual meeting.

It appears A-B is prepared to keep the new product development activity cranking as it works to get above the magically 50 percent share of the U.S. beer market.

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