Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Old Is New A-B Goes into Past for Its Latest Brew

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Old Is New A-B Goes into Past for Its Latest Brew

Article excerpt

Anheuser-Busch Inc.'s three newest beers are also some of its oldest.

In a bid for a share of the red-hot microbrew and specialty category, Busch is reviving three beers first brewed by Adolphus Busch, who nurtured the brewery in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The beers, called American Originals, will join Red Wolf and Elk Mountain Amber Ale in A-B's assault on the specialty beer category. The beers' individual names are Faust, Muenchener and Black & Tan.

A-B is shrewd to bring out beers based on its heritage, said Bob Weinberg, a beer industry consultant based in St. Louis. The brewer isn't camouflaging the beers' origins. But it still is putting out brews that appeal to beer drinkers who like stronger flavors and distinctive colors.

The specialty beer segment is growing rapidly, unlike most mainstream beers. As many as 700 brewers are competing for a tiny market segment, Weinberg said.

Anheuser-Busch says specialty and microbrew sales grew nearly 40 percent last year to 3.3 million barrels. When imports are included, specialty beer sales came to more than 17 million barrels, 8 percent of all beer sold in the United States.

Specialty brews also are crowding mainstream beers on supermarket shelves, Weinberg said. If major brewers want to retain their share of shelf space, they need to add new products. New products also can make up for the lack of growth in mainstream beer brands.

A-B plans to roll out the first three American Originals beers on Monday in Seattle and Denver, two of the hottest microbrewery markets. Two others - Bock beer and Union Man's Favorite, will be introduced later.

A-B will make the beers in Merrimack, N.H., at the smallest of its 13 breweries. The beer will be offered first at beer tastings, restaurants and beer festivals, moving to supermarket shelves if it proves popular, a spokesman said.

The beers will sell for "super-premium" prices - a dollar or more per bottle.

Brewery officials searched old records for handwritten and printed notes, ingredient lists and sales materials that contained information on the old brands, said Dan S. Kahn, A-B's brewmaster. …

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