Molson Coors has set the bar high in target for its initiative to get British women drinking more beer it wants them downing as much as Irish girls do.

While women in the UK are responsible for 13% of beer sales, 36% of beer sold in the Republic of Ireland is bought by females, according to the brewery.

Molson Coors' Bittersweet Partnership which was created to get more females drinking beer has claimed the Irish share is an "achievable long-term target" and will amount to £87m in incremental sales.

In the shorter term, it aims to increase the proportion of beer bought by British women to 14% by 2012, through NPD and marketing activity.

Bittersweet had planned to launch a light, entirely clear beer flavoured with dragon fruit, but has ditched the idea following a £500,000 study of 30,000 British women. "The research indicated it was a myth that women want light fruity beers, which made us sit up and rethink our approach," said Bittersweet spokeswoman Kristy McReady. "Women have more taste receptors and are more receptive to bitter flavours, so there is an opportunity to launch a more challenging beer for women."

She added that the first new beers to target women would be launched by the end of the year, either as an extension of an existing Molson Coors brand, such as Coors Light or Blue Moon, or a completely new brand. "We will not be stealing sales from an existing brand as this is a new area. We are gearing up for the long term."

Following last week's Budget meaning duty on beer will rise by 2% above inflation and continue to do so for the next four years, Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter highlighted the importance of enticing more women to beer.

"Women are significant in the growth of the industry, which is why one year ago we invested more than £1m in an independent business to understand the potential of this market.

"Historically we've targeted men so it was critical we hired experts to speak to women about beer and understand what they want," said Hunter.