A pinch of Italian magic adds an ultra-premium tang to Birra Moretti

HEINEKEN UK has launched a new ‘ultra-premium’ expression of its market leading premium lager Birra Moretti.

Birra Moretti Sale di Mare, which translates as ‘salt from the sea’, is a 4.8% ABV unfiltered, medium-bodied premium lager made with a hint of Italian sea salt, which is now available on draught in 20L Brewlocks, 30L kegs or 330ml bottles.

While launching a salted lager may initially seem a rather off-the-wall direction for Heineken to take, the brewing giant’s UK on-trade director, Will Rice, expressed his delight at the product and predicted that it was ‘really going to come to life in the on-trade’.

Firstly, casting the brand’s net a little wider makes a whole lot of business sense, given that the last 12 months have seen the value of Birra Moretti sales surpass one billion pounds.

“Birra Moretti L’Autentica is the No 1 premium lager on the market, which really gives us a platform from which people can be invited to trade up,” noted Rice.

He reckons Sale di Mare – pronounced ‘Salleh di Marreh’ not ‘Sail di Mair’ – is that trade up. At 4.8%, it’s a higher ABV than ‘L’Autentica, and is unfiltered, making it slightly hazy in colour, with a fuller taste.

But it is the hint of Italian sea salt that will really get customers’ attention. Although a vanishingly small amount by volume – 0.01 g per 100ml of liquid – as any chef knows a little salt can go a long way when it comes to enhancing flavour.

This is claimed to make Sale di Mare perfect for an aperitivo moment, or pairing with a meal, especially with seafood. Given the vast growth in high-end pub restaurants, an ultra-premium ‘foodie’ beer built upon the powerful Moretti brand makes a whole lot of sense.

“It may seem an unusual idea, but salted beers have been around for centuries,” noted Rice. “It is also our first foray into unfiltered lager. Together, this approach brings a fuller flavour and a richness that really enhances the beer.

“If you talk about trading up and talk about premiumisation, this is it – we think this brand is really going to come to life in the on-trade.”

His confidence is based on consumer research that identified an opportunity to offer curious drinkers more flavourful and interesting taste profiles by putting ‘an accessible premium twist’ on Birra Moretti, whilst staying true to its Italian heritage.

So what are Heineken UK’s aspirations for the Sale di Mare roll out?

“Do I expect it to be as big a launch as Cruzcampo? No, that is not its role in the market,” said Rice.

“This is ultra-premium, so in the first year we will be focused on getting it into premium venues. As it goes so well with food, it is a truly great beer proposition for restaurants in particular.

“It offers operators a way to deliver a premium drinking experience that we’re confident will attract discerning drinkers and drive value.”

The launch is being supported by a multi-million-pound nationwide marketing campaign – and to ensure standout on the bar, Birra Moretti Sale di Mare comes with its own ‘lovely’ eye-catching glassware, distinct from the L’Autentica’s popular glass.

  • Heineken UK is offering operators the chance to win an Italian food and drink pairing event for their customers. This prize promotion will run from 14th February 2024 until 13th March 2024.