Heineken weakens Strongbow with abv cut

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Heineken is reducing the ABV of its packaged Strongbow from 5.3% to 5% this month.

Announcing the official launch of a pear cider Strongbow at just 4.8% abv, Heineken said lowering the alcohol content for the main brand was right for the consumer, right for the brand and right for Heineken’s industry CSR commitments.

The cider category was being driven by younger “tribal drinkers” and 90% of these chose drinks which ranged between 4% and 5% abv, said marketing manager Michael Gillane.

More than 5% abc was “beyond the threshold level for many of these drinkers who want to stay in control”, he claimed.

“If your sole reason for buying Strongbow is because it’s stronger than other brands, we’re not sure we want you in the family,” Gillane said.

Last year Heineken pledged to reduce the abv of one of its leading brands as part of its commitment to the government’s so-called Responsibility Deal, but refused to name the brand. Gillane told The Grocer that this was because the drink was still in development at the time.

In January, lager brands Stella Artois, Budweiser, Beck’s, Carlsberg Export and Cobra dropped from 5% to 4.8% abv in a move many industry insiders interpreted as a way of reducing duty costs.

Readers' comments (43)

  • my partner bought me a bottle yesterday, was drinking it, i said to her this tastes different, have you got the right stuff? checked the label noticed the drop in ABV.sorry its ruined the drink entirely. i will not be buying it anymore. they even want the same money for it. A lesson in how to ruin a good cider

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  • Reeeaaalllyy?? Sorry but when has alcohol content made a drink tastier. Maybe you should be checking out other brands such as white lightening or Special brew... they should taste just great!!

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  • i have recently brought these new cans from my local shop as i have enjoyed drinking strongbow for years. the cider is lacking the same taste it once had and so i don't think i would enjoy drinking it as much anymore. i guess i'll just have to find another drink

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  • Sorry nick but I'm afraid you are wrong and quite frankly don't know what your talking about. Speckled hen in a bottle (5.2%) is far tastier than cask (4.5%) caffreys done the same years ago, and it never tasted the same. And trust me I serve and drink enough strongbow to have my opinion on it-and it does not taste the same. So evidently it does make a difference on taste, why I don't know.
    And I wouldn't patronise normal people eho used to enjoy the drink and comparing them to the likes of homeless people who drink cheap White cider.

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  • That's odd—I picked up a half-dozen bottles this afternoon, and they're still 5.3% ABV. Of course, I'm in Canada. There might be a difference.

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  • I have enjoyed Strongbow for at the least the last 10 years and i can assure everyone that the new re branded strongbow lacks the same quality ..Its taste is shocking and i will be forced to find another drink.....gutted..

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  • I agree with most comments on here .. I cannot enjoy any other drink other than Strongbow and I am annoyed that it now tastes different and 'tinny' it tastes as if a third of it is made up of soda water! I only buy it now if its at its usual original best but its becomming harder to come across! Nice way to lower your income. Heineken!

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  • Strongbow, my favourite drink, has had it's quality taken away. The reasons are pathetic. Even the 2 litre bottle is now clear plastic and looks cheap.

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  • I have to agree with all the other Strongbow drinkers - the taste has completely changed. Now it tastes watered down - and the price has remained the same. Money grabbing at it's most blatant.

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  • Everyone is talking sense I have been drinking strongbow for 17 years it's stood head and shoulders above all the other ciders. They dropped blackthorn old English and many more and they all now fast like drinking watered down strongbow now strongbow tastes likes watered down scrumpy jack I hope you lose that many sales you have to change it back.

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