Out With the Old

January 14, 2009

Awesome photo from abstruse visage

My alert beer-drinking friend Kenny found this news that I am upset by, as you should be.

Old Style, as Schlitz has recently done, is going back to their traditional brewing practices in order to elevate their brand from delicious discount beer, to mediocre “premium” brand beer.  Via the Suntimes:

Old Style going old school
KRAUSENING | Resumes brewing process it used for 9 decades
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January 14, 2009

BY CHERYL V. JACKSON cjackson@suntimes.com
Old Style. Literally.

The beer brand familiar to generations of Chicagoans is returning to a process it started with in the 1900s and abandoned in the ’90s. 

Old Style is re-employing krausening fermentation — a traditional German process — will provide a smoother finish, the company says.
(Sun-Times file)

Re-employing krausening fermentation — a traditional German process — will provide a smoother finish, the company says.

“It’s something our longtime consumers have asked us to take a look at,” said Kevin Kotecki, president of Woodridge-based Pabst Brewing Co., which acquired the brand in 1999.

The brewing change will push Old Style into the more costly premium category of Coors, Miller and Budweiser. Among several brands Pabst has recently focused on propping, Old Style is now in a subpremium category with the likes of Busch, Keystone Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

The company will promote pub crawls and block parties to reach a target audience of 20-something Midwesterners who grew up seeing the brand at family gatherings, said Senior Brand Manager Keith Hill.

It’s actually an interesting idea.  Being from Chicago where Old Style once held the majority of the market share, I DO remember the can all around family gatherings.  But this still upsets me for a few reasons:

  • I drink Old Style because I like the taste.  Everyone needs a “staple” beer — a beer with body and taste but not overwhelming… this is what I demand from a classic American pilsner, and this is what Old Style is.
  • I also drink it because it’s affordable (and affordability makes it taste even better).  I choose it over PBR because Pabst has gone from a sub-premium brand to some sort of hipster calling card which I hope not to be attached to.
  • Within the last year the cost of Old Style has risen from about 10.99 for a 30 pack to 13.99.  Not a wallet-buster but still annoying.
  • Within the last year Old Style has discontinued the 30-pack in favor of the 24.
  • PBR however, still sells 30-packs which now seem to be a better deal than Old Style.

All this means I’m in search for a new good, cheap beer.  I’m thinking… Tecate?  I could always slink down into Mountain Creek, but I simply can’t bring myself to do it.

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First Zima, Now Sparks?!

December 18, 2008

How are we supposed to get all hyphy before we ghost ride now!?!?!?!

Sparks Spokesmodel by Ryanwiz Sparks by Al Bar 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-ap-energy-drinks,0,4219784.story

MillerCoors to remove caffeine from Sparks energy drink in deal with states
By EMILY FREDRIX | AP Food Industry Writer

MILWAUKEE (AP) — MillerCoors LLC announced Thursday it will remove caffeine and three other ingredients from its Sparks alcoholic energy drink in a deal with 13 states and the city of San Francisco, who had contended the drink targeted young drinkers.

A coalition of state attorneys general had complained the stimulants reduced drinkers’ sense of intoxication and were marketed to young drinkers, who were already more likely to have risky behaviors in driving and other activities.

*cough* BULLSHIT *cough*.  What the hell.  I’ll have to go back to slamming a pot of coffee, and then slamming a pint of Guiness.  Actually, that doesn’t sound that bad.

Attorneys general and advocacy groups have long been targeting MillerCoors, a joint venture of SABMiller’s U.S. unit and Molson Coors Brewing Co., and market-leader Anheuser-Busch due to the making and marketing of such drinks.

As part of the agreement, MillerCoors agreed to remove caffeine, taurine, guarana and ginseng from Sparks, the leader in the alcoholic energy drink category, and not produce caffeinated alcohol beverages in the future. The company also will pay $550,000 to cover the cost of the investigation into Sparks. The agreement does not mean the company was found to have engaged in unlawful behavior.

I’m glad they’re getting rid of the guano though.

“They are fundamentally dangerous and put drinkers of all ages at risk,” New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a statement of the drinks. “Today’s agreement will ensure that from here on out, these drinks are kept off New York shelves and away from New York consumers.”

The MillerCoors settlement also includes the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio and Oklahoma and the city attorney of San Francisco.

“We are always willing to listen to societal partners and consider changes to our business to reinforce our commitment to alcohol responsibility,” Long said.

Time to head back to Wisconsin next time I want to make Hyper Vipers.

The money will be split between the states and San Francisco, MillerCoors spokesman Julian Green said.

MillerCoors noted that labeling and all formulas for Sparks had been approved by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. It said it marketed the drinks only to legal drinking-age consumers.

MillerCoors President and Chief Commercial Officer Tom Long said in a statement the changes mean the company can keep marketing and selling the brand to legal drinkers.

Thanks for the photo Sikanna! — http://www.flickr.com/photos/sikanna/

St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch said in June it would reformulate its Tilt and Bud Extra drinks to remove the stimulants as part of a settlement with 11 attorneys general.

Groups say these drinks target young drinkers, even those underage, because those consumers are already drawn to highly caffeinated drinks like Red Bull.

As part of the agreement, MillerCoors will sell through its remaining Sparks products and stop making them by Jan. 10.

Green said the company will then start brewing the new formula after that.

Random drunk guy by charleym143

Marketing of the brand will also change, the agreement said. The company must also eliminate all references in advertising to caffeinated formulations and not promote Sparks as a mixer for caffeinated drinks. It will remove the plus and minus symbols — which evoke a battery — found on the blue and orange cans for the product. The company also agrees not to use batteries, rockets, lightning bolts, or the terms “powered by” or “ignite” in marketing the new formulation.

sparks! by minicloud

The company also took down the Web site for the brand, as part of the agreement, which said MillerCoors may launch new Web content for Sparks to promote only the reformulated version.

Green said the company will continue to expand the brand. SABMiller bought Sparks and Steel Reserve, a slow-brewed lager, from McKenzie River Corp. for $215 million cash in 2006.

Sparks holds about 60 percent of the alcoholic energy drink category, he said. But in MillerCoors’ portfolio it makes up less than 1 percent of the brewer’s total volume. The brand is growing, though. Data from AC Nielsen in a recent 12-week period showed the brand’s sales in convenience stores were up 15.9 percent from the same period last year, Green said.

drunk by ksosmall 

He noted that advertising for the brand was minimal, compared with the company’s other brands like Miller Lite, and said there had never been any television ads for Sparks.

“We remain committed to the Sparks franchise, including the possibility of line extensions,” Green said.

Steve Gardner, litigation director for public advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest — which has a suit against MillerCoors over Sparks — applauded the agreement. In September the group filed a suit against MillerCoors to stop the brewer from selling Sparks, saying it’s going after teenagers with the drink.

Noah rocks Sparks Lite in the ZML by justin 

“It’s a devil’s brew of a product because it combines caffeine with alcohol,” Gardner said.

He said much of what the group wanted from MillerCoors — to remove caffeine, guarana, ginseng and taurine from the product — was accomplished in the agreement. He said he was not yet sure what the agreement means for the case, which was pending in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Randall + Sparks = by Phil Sharp.