Spring may not yet be in the air but two of the drinks trade’s heavyweight players today kicked off seasonal offensives.
Months of suitably wintry doom and gloom surrounding beer prices and the challenges faced by Britain’s biggest beer brands were punctuated first by The Grocer’s world exclusive that Stella Artois is going into cider.
With the launch of Stella Cidre, AB InBev is parking its tanks all over the lawns of the cider makers, who have (by and large) had it good for years while major brewers toiled over stagnant or declining lager sales.
Even if the name looks like a typo, you have to admire the boldness of the move from a company whose recent innovations have been mostly limited to tacking numbers on the end of well-established brands.
This weekend’s edition of The Grocer will give you the best in-depth coverage of what is surely an early contender to be grocery’s biggest launch of the year.
Less dramatic but equally telling was the news of Molson Coors’ £20m swoop for ambitious Cornish brewer Sharp’s, the latest marquee capture for the man they call the Beer Hunter. (Okay, maybe it’s just staff at The Grocer who call him the Beer Hunter.)
A trip across the Tamar might not be as exotic as the expeditions that bagged world beers like Cobra, Singha, Blue Moon and, most notably, Corona.
But the acquisition of the upwardly mobile Doom Bar – which aims to be the UK’s second-largest ale behind Newkie Brown – marks another major step forward as Molson bids to ease its reliance on Carling.
Molson Coors will give it the route to market and marketing firepower to accelerate its growth. And it’s a giant leap towards owning part of a booming cask ale tradition that has until now seemed like one of the brewer’s most daunting challenges.
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