A-B InBev tries to find sweet spot in new beers

2012-04-26T17:30:00Z 2013-01-21T11:44:49Z A-B InBev tries to find sweet spot in new beersBY EVAN S. BENN • ebenn@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8348 stltoday.com

ST. LOUIS • Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, is rolling out new brands that it hopes will win over people looking for lighter, sweeter alternatives to most beers.

"They want sweeter," A-B marketing VP Paul Chibe told the Post-Dispatch's Tim Logan last month.

If Chibe is right, these beers-slash-flavored malt beverages are going to take off this summer. Sweet, they are.

A-B provided samples. At least one was pleasantly refreshing. Here's my take on A-B's three latest offerings:    

Bud Light Lime-a-Rita

About Bud Light Lime with margarita flavors is A-B's entry into the growing trend of beer cocktails. The version we get in Missouri has nearly twice the alcohol content of Bud Light Lime; A-B makes Lime-a-Rita with a little less alcohol for states with different regulations. • Alcohol by volume 8 percent • Released April 23Available Indefinite release; 8- and 24-ounce cans and 12-ounce bottles. • Four-sentence review I poured mine, as the label-writing suggested, over ice in a glass. The melting ice helped to water down the drink, which has a spot-on margarita flavor but is a tad on the sticky-sweet side for me. Someone on Twitter suggested mixing it with Bud Light Lime to cut the sweetness. A good idea, but I usually don't keep Bud Light Lime at home. • Would I drink it again? Yes. At a beach wedding or at a bar with a bad beer selection that doesn't serve liquor. 

Michelob Ultra 19th Hole Light Tea & Lemonade

About Half iced tea and half lemonade has been a longtime favorite of American golfers. (On the links, the soft drink mix is named after the legendary Arnold Palmer; at a bar, order a John Daly for the same drink spiked with vodka.) A-B adds caramel color and a Stevia-derived sweetener to make a boozy version. • ABV 4 percent • Released April 2Available For a limited time; 16-ounce cans. • Four-sentence review This is pretty watery, almost to the point that I thought it had no alcohol in it. There is an astringent, scratch-on-the-back-of-my-throat characteristic, similar to the sensation I get when drinking a Nestea. I poured it into a glass, no ice. Next time (there probably won't be a next time), I'd try it over ice. • Would I drink again? No.

Shock Top Lemon Shandy

About Beer mixed with sparkling lemonade or other citrus soda has long been a worldwide favorite in hot weather. This is A-B's answer to Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, a MillerCoors product that has grown in popularity since its debut in 2007. • ABV 4.2 percent • Released March 19Available Through July; 12-ounce bottles and cans and on draft. • Four-sentence review This is the first new Shock Top variety that has truly impressed me since the original Shock Top Belgian White (pumpkin, raspberry and a new Wheat IPA have been disappointing). Lemonade flavor is there, but it's not overpoweringly sweet or sour. Beer flavor is present, but it's light and without an unpleasant aftertaste. I like this shandy. • Would I drink again? Absolutely. At a backyard barbeque, after mowing the lawn or on a picnic during a bike ride.  

Evan S. Benn is the assistant editor of Go! magazine. He also writes about beer and food, and he is author of the 2011 Post-Dispatch book "Brew in the Lou: St. Louis' Beer Culture - Past, Present and Future," available here. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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