A 6-Pack of New Brews Coming Soon From MillerCoors

New brands, line extensions look to harness craft-beer market

LAS VEGAS -- While much of the focus for MillerCoors with its premium beers remains on the cold proposition and packaging innovation, the beer marketer showed a remarkably wide range of new craft products coming to market soon during the NACS Show in Las Vegas this month.

The U.S. joint marketing arm of SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Co., through its Tenth & Blake subsidiary, has a handful of ambitious introductions scheduled between now and the second quarter of 2013:

  • Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider, which MillerCoors acquired in January, is rolling out to convenience stores now. The U.S.-made cider carries a distinctly British image, including the Union Jack featured prominently on the can. It is being sold in 4-packs of 16.9-ounce cans.
  • After a storied history in Oregon, MillerCoors/Tenth & Blake is taking Henry Weinhard's three craft beers national. Available in 6- and 12-packs, the Henry Weinhard's collection includes the Woodland Pass IPA, Redwoods Flats Amber Ale and Private Reserve.
  • Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy is largely responsible for much of Tenth & Blake's impressive growth over the past two years. Thus, it makes sense for MillerCoors to introduce a line extension this fall: Leinenkugel's Lemon Berry Shady. With it, MillerCoors hopes to do for fall and winter craft-beer sales what Summer Shandy did for spring and summer (growth of 60% and 79% over the past two years). "Beer drinkers told us that winter seasonal beers are too heavy," MillerCoors said, "suggesting Leinenkugel's has an opportunity to satisfy its fans with a new Shandy brew."
  • Arguably, Blue Moon Belgian White is the reason MillerCoors made a strong entry into the craft-beer market in the first place. It aims to expand that success with a new 4-pack of 16-ounce cans coming this fall.
  • Batch 19 is inspired by the last batches of beer brewed by the Coors Brewery before Prohibition took hold in 1919. It's currently available on-tap in select cities and coming to off-premise retail soon.

The ambitious new-product schedule for Tenth & Blake is no surprise considering the craft arm of MillerCoors was a highlight of the company's second-quarter earnings report.

"We delivered double-digit growth from Tenth and Blake as we scale brands like Blue Moon and Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy to meet changing consumer tastes," MillerCoors CEO Tom Long reported. "We continue to make progress against our strategy of strengthening our core business, while evolving our portfolio to match consumer demand."

Beyond craft beers, MillerCoors also has a couple intriguing new domestic additions coming to market:

  • Redd's Apple Ale isn't a beer at all, but rather targets the sweet, flavored-malt-beverage market in traditional beer packaging (12-ounce bottles and 6-packs). The 5%-alcohol-by-volume drink will come to market in February.
  • Third Shift is a mainstream beer developed by MillerCoors brewers on, yes, the third shift. The Amber Lager, which launches in February, is the first of "a series of award-winning beers brewed by a band of brewers whose love of beer/passion for brewing doesn't stop when the day shift is over."