There have been plenty of light beer entries over the years, most offering pretty much me-too versions of each other. But the summer ahead promises perhaps more serious competition for Big Beer's big brands, and it looks like the attack will come from multiple competitor offerings, all focused on a feature that hasn't been a light beer strength.
Attacking a weakness
While Miller Lite has made half-hearted attempts at touting "more taste," few drinkers give any major light beer credit for much taste at all. Refreshing? You bet. Good party beer? Sure. But taste? Not so much.
1. Corona Light
"More taste than mainstream light beer" will form the center of Corona Light's effort. The brand's new TV advertising takes a "grownup's light beer" angle with "a light beer you can actually taste" claim.
As we noted back in November, session IPA craft brands are set to take off. Something of a hybrid, at least as far as traditional craft beers are concerned, we called them "The light beer of craft beer." They're lower in alcohol, and less heavily flavored than what most folks think of as "craft." But they're still significantly more flavorful than Big Beer's light beers, and very nearly as drinkable. That many of these ales will be their brewery's first venture into cans underscores how seriously they aim to compete with the big light beers. And names like "All Day" and "Nooner" take direct aim at light-beer volume.
Since none of Big Beer's light beers is particularly healthy at the moment, the summer ahead already promised to be challenging. Expect Corona Light and the flurry of new session ales to add to that.
A word of caution
Still, here's a caution for the craft guys: Before hoping for a history-repeat, remember the biggest blow to the old premium brands was self-inflcited. It came when Big Beer launched their light-beer siblings. Just as "Lite beer from Miller" took the life out of High Life, some measure of session-ale volume will inevitably be sourced in current craft beers.