Swedish cider maker Kopparberg is taking on Crabbie’s with a venture into alcoholic ginger beer.

Frank’s launches this week (rsp: £1.95), just over a year after Halewood International introduced Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer. Cider of Sweden, Kopparberg’s UK arm, claimed the newcomer would help “define the category” ahead of the key summer season.

Named after the father of the Kopparberg Brewery family owners, Frank’s is a 4%-abv blend of the company’s Sofiero lager the top-selling beer in Sweden and ginger beer, which are brewed together.

Tesco has secured an initial national listing for Frank’s, which Cider of Sweden MD Davin Nugent described as a sign of the retailer’s confidence in the category.

“The drinks repertoire of UK customers has changed completely from 10 years ago and Nielsen advised us that this was a potent category for development,” said Nugent. “It’s got serious legs. People remember ginger beer from their youth and are increasingly inclined to trial new styles of foreign beers alcoholic ginger beer straddles both drivers.”

Tesco beer and cider buyer buyer Ian Targett said Frank’s could appeal to drinkers who were looking for an alternative over-ice long drink to cider. “Customers are still looking for things to try,” said Targett. “This trend for alcoholic ginger beer has been quickly picked up and may be following on from the success of cider over ice. People have been trying flavoured beers of all kinds over the past few years and perhaps they see this as an extension of that.”

Priced £1.95 for 500ml, Frank’s is 4p cheaper than Crabbie’s, which has notched up £3.5m sales since launch [IRI 52w/e 20 February 2010]. Halewood International welcomed its new rival, and claimed Frank’s would help drive sales of Crabbie’s.

“We believe, if anything, the launch of other brands will help drive sales to the category leader, simply because we have spent the past 12 months building the brand,” said brand manager Al Cross. “It is great to see the category gather momentum.”