Lager: the quintessential pub product

New on-trade lager launches this year included the introduction of Stella Artois Unfiltered.

THE big beast of the on-trade, lager continues to be the essential must-stock product for Scotland’s pubs and bars.

Figures supplied by CGA earlier this year put the value of the category in Scottish premises at just over £600 million – a fair few pints, cans and bottles by anyone’s reckoning.

Tennent’s continues to be the biggest player by far in the Scottish market, with Peroni Nastro Azzurro Scotland’s second-biggest lager brand, followed by Birra Moretti, Stella Artois and then Carling.

It’s a fair bet that Burton on Trent’s biggest brewer won’t be happy about its current fifth place ranking in Scotland.

In SLTN’s 2018 Top Brands feature, Carling was in second place on the lager table. By 2019 it had slipped to third.

This year saw the Carling brand – which is the biggest selling in the UK overall – return to TV screens for the first time in two years with its new ‘We’re Made by Our Mates’ campaign.

Representing an investment of £6.6m, the campaign is bound to raise the brand’s profile among pub customers.

Carling brand director Lee Willet said the aim of the new campaign was to “champion the relationships that make us who we are and bring those relatable moments with mates to life through a series of affectionate, authentic and character-driven ads”.

That doesn’t mean the other brand owners have been resting on their laurels in 2022.
Budweiser Brewing Group launched its Unfiltered version of Stella Artois into the on-trade towards the end of the year, targeted at ‘super premium’ beer drinkers.

Available in both draught and packaged formats, Unfiltered was supported in the on-trade with new frosted chalice glassware.

Budweiser Brewing Group is confident that the launch will be significant, predicting that, by 2025, premium and super premium brands will account for 65% of total beer consumption.

If that turns out to be accurate it could create opportunities for beer brands big and small in the years to come – as well as for the venues selling them.

Budweiser Brewing Group isn’t the only major brand owner to have introduced new products this year.

Heineken, owner of Birra Moretti, Foster’s and, of course, Heineken itself, introduced a new 4% ABV version of the lager this year called Heineken Silver.

While Budweiser Brewing Group took aim at the super premium corner of the market, Heineken looked to another growing area of the drinks market: light beer.

Introducing Heineken Silver earlier in the year, the company said light lager had grown its share of the overall lager market by 40% in the past five years and was proving particularly popular with 18 to 34 year-olds.

Elsewhere, the company took full ownership of London craft brewer Beavertown.

The Dutch brewer was already a shareholder in the business, but the takeover – announced in September – puts the popular craft brand wholly in Heineken’s hands.

It further reinforces how seriously the big brewers are taking the craft beer sector, which has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past decade.

It is easy to see why.

According to CGA’s figures for the Scottish on-trade, Scottish craft brewer Innis & Gunn’s lager is now more valuable to Scottish pubs and bars than Budweiser – something that would have been unthinkable not so many years ago.