Anheuser-Busch to Launch Light Alcohol Tea


InBev owned Anheuser-Busch announced a "light alcohol" tea beverage this week, extending its Michelob Ultra line. The blend of hard lemonade and tea will be called Ultra 19th Hole Light Tea and Lemonade. It is positioned to compete with Arizona Beverages' new Arnold Palmer Hard Half & Half.

The canned drink will contain 4 percent alcohol by volume with 140 calories. In a note to distributors the beer company described the beverage as a "great opportunity to capitalize on outdoor drinking occasions, including recreation and golf."

Arizona Beverages Arnold PalmerAn article in Advertising Age noted that sales of hard teas and lemonade brands were up 54 percent in 2010. Twisted Tea a brand introduced by Hard Iced Tea in 2001 "had impressive sales growth of 36 percent, to $78.4 million" through the first week of September, according to SymphonyIRI, which tracks grocery sales, excluding Walmart Stores and liquor stores."

"Arizona, which markets Hard though affiliate Hornell Brewing Co., plans to raise distribution to 21 states from five," according to Ad Age.

Arizona is vying with Lipton, a division of PepsiCo, to increase its share of the $5.3 billion ready-to-drink iced-tea category. In addition to lemonade blends, Arizona, which was founded by a beer distributor in Brooklyn, NY., is also experimenting with malt beverages and coconut water. The company is also being pursued by Tata Global Beverages and Nestle Waters, North America.

In the Ad Age article Michelob Ultra, a low-calorie beer long marketed to athletes such as runners and golfers, "is also on a solid run, with sales up nearly 6%, to $497 million, according to SymphonyIRI."

Sources: Arizona Beverages, Advertising Age.