Heineken to launch new ciders and spirit-flavoured beer

bulmers desperados

Heineken UK has unveiled new products for the UK’s bars and pubs, including two very different ciders and a new beer with tequila and cachaça flavours.

For its Bulmers brand, it is launching the first blood orange-flavoured cider in the UK, while a premium cloudy apple cider on draught is being added to its Strongbow range.

It is also building on the success of its Desperados tequila-flavoured beer with the UK launch of Desperados Red, which adds flavours of guarana and cachaça.

To meet increasing demand for craft beers, it has also announced plans to roll out the Three Hop Lager that has been launched in Scotland by Heineken’s Caledonian Brewery.

Bulmers Cider Zesty Blood Orange is being launched into the on-trade in mid-March in a 586ml bottle at 4% ABV. Targeted mainly at people aged 18 to 24, it is believed to be the first cider with orange as the only flavour.

Lawson Mountstevens, managing director for the on-trade at Heineken, said: “At Heineken, we take our leading cider position seriously and, by continuing to refresh the Bulmers range, we are meeting new consumer demands, that in turn grow sales for our customers.

“Bulmers Cider Zesty Blood Orange has already performed brilliantly in consumer taste tests and is in the top 10% of product concepts amongst the target audience.”

The launch will be supported by a multi-million-pound outdoor poster campaign and will be added to the Bulmers brand’s existing “Live Colourful” TV campaign.

Zesty Blood Orange will join the existing range which includes Bold Black Cherry and Crushed Red Berries & Lime as well as Bulmers Cider Pear and Bulmers Cider Original. The launch will coincide with the axing of Bulmers Cider Pressed Red Grape.

Strongbow Cloudy AppleOn the back of continuing on-trade growth in premium ciders, Heineken UK is to launch Strongbow Cloudy Apple, a new premium draught cider, in the on-trade in May.

It is lightly sparkling with a crisp, rich taste of bittersweet apples from Herefordshire and a smooth rounded fruity flavour. At 4.5% ABV cider, it is aimed at cider drinkers aged 25 and over.

Lawson said: “You only have to look at Strongbow Dark Fruit, which has added thousands of new consumers and millions of pounds to the category, to see the huge potential for our new premium addition.

“It has already proved to be one of the top draught concepts we have ever tested with consumers, highlighting the refreshing change from standard cider.

“We are very confident that Strongbow Cloudy Apple is the ideal way to meet both changing consumer tastes, and the need to drive sales for our trade customers.”

It follows independent research that has shown that consumers are prepared to pay around 13% more per pint over everyday cider.

The launch will be supported by high-quality point-of-sale materials such as bar runners, wooden menu holders and wifi password blackboards to enhance visibility and consumers’ awareness of Strongbow Cloudy Apple as a “mature, contemporary” cider.

New fonts, standing out from other Strongbow variants, will provide it with a premium and authentic positioning, featuring a natural wooden handle, gold detailing and prominent messaging around its Herefordshire provenance.

Another new launch for drinkers aged 18 to 24 is Desperados Red, which will be supported by a multi-million-pound marketing and advertising campaign. It follows the variant’s success in other countries such as France and Poland.

The beer, flavoured with tequila, cachaça and guarana, is at 5.9% ABV, in line with the original tequila-flavoured Desperados, and will be available in 330ml bottles.

Lawson said: “Desperados has led the way in establishing spirit beers in the UK, but consumer preferences are continually evolving, especially within the younger adult age group. Now, more than ever, they expect exciting flavours and new ingredients from a brand they already love and trust.

“With its unexpected and rewarding new taste, sales of Desperados Red in other countries have been outstanding, which is why we are confident that the new flavour will be an important addition to our UK customers’ premium packed beers offering, driving profitable sales and overall growth in the category.”

The launch campaign will include digital and outdoor advertising and a nationwide sampling programme distributing 500,000 samples alongside Desperados live experiences. In outlets, POS kits will include bar runners, ice buckets, bar blades, back-bar display units and branded clothing.

However, Lawson admitted that Heineken UK had not been successful with Desperados Verde, a variant introduced last year to capitalise on the popularity of the Mojito cocktail. It adds mint and lime to the blend of beer and tequila flavouring, with an ABV of 4.7% – lower than standard Desperados. While it is not being withdrawn, it will no longer be marketed.

Heineken UK is also investing in the craft beer sector of the market with plans to roll out Three Hop Lager on draught from Edinburgh’s Caledonian Brewery.

At 4.5% ABV, it is made with hops Hallertau Hersbrucker from Bavaria in Germany, Saaz from the Czech Republic and Strisselspalt from Alsace in France.

Launched last year in Scotland, it is steadily growing distribution in the north of England and London with plans for further national roll-out.

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