Constellation is straying into Crabbie’s territory with the launch of an alcoholic ginger beer ­under the Stone’s Ginger Wine brand.

The Hardys owner, last month bought by Champ Private Equity and due to be renamed Accolade Wines from July, is rolling out Ginger Joe (4% abv) from the beginning of March. Its rsp of £1.60 for 330ml would target a “more ­upmarket” consumer than market leader Crabbie’s, which is priced at £1.40 for 330ml, it said.

There was plenty of room for growth in the £21.8m alcoholic ginger beer category and the bottle’s slimline shape compared with Crabbie’s original 500ml bottle would attract more women, predicted Clare Griffiths, VP European marketing for Constellation Wines Australia & Europe. Crabbie’s launched a 330ml format in November.

High consumer awareness of Stone’s which has a 50% share of the UK ginger wine market and is up 25% [Nielsen MAT 25 December 2010] would give the launch an advantage, added Griffiths.

It is named Ginger Joe ­after the brand’s founder, London greengrocer Joseph Stone, and bottles feature an orange moustache inspired by the one he sported back in 1740.

However, Fentimans, owner of ­rival alcoholic ginger beer brand Hollows, has voiced concern about the use of a ginger moustache because it has been using one to denote fake or “poor impersonator” ginger beers in ­advertising since October.

Fentimans’ ads warn “Beware of Imitations” and compare Hollows, the “genuine ginger beer” to a nameless ginger beer brand sporting a giant ginger moustache labelled as “a poor impersonator”.

“It’s a reference to the fact that our product is 100% natural and botanically brewed,” said Tiffany McKirdy, operations director at Fentimans. “Constellation may have unwittingly played into our hands. They would have known that we were there.”

Constellation said: “Ginger Joe’s brand identity is inspired by Joseph Stone. He was a true advocate of all things ginger, and it is his tache that is on Ginger Joe’s packaging.”