Saturday 29 April 2017

Low Calorie Beer: Brewing up a storm in the world of girlie beers

Beer is seen as a man's tipple but new low-cal versions are hoping to entice more women drinkers

Amanda Phelan

THERE'S one designed to go with curry, another tastes like passion fruit and a third contains a hint of orange peel and coriander. No, it's not chocolates or perfume -- this is beer.

'Girlie beer' is the new kid on the alcohol block as smart breweries see they are missing out on up to 50pc of the potential market because beer is, well, mostly a man's drink.

As a result, millions in marketing cash are being ploughed into the launch of new scoops aimed at women who avoid the beer market.

Research carried out by major breweries reveals women avoid beer because they believe it is fattening. As well, advertising is sexist and it's often portrayed as a male drink.

Lure

Now, the aim is to lure women drinkers back into the market with a range of new tipples that aim to tantalise.

Carlsberg says its Eve brand is doing well here since its recent launch. "Eve is the female equivalent of beer, light in alcohol, sweet and fruity in taste," says Carlsberg spokeswoman Vita Clausen.

The 3.1pc alcohol brew is a beer-style fruit spritzer tailored for women.

Molson Coors' new trifecta is Animee, a low-cal beer that comes in three flavours -- clear filtered, crisp rose and zesty lemon, due to be released in Ireland by the New Year.

It includes an anti-bloat ingredient and is even pitched as waistline-friendly -- just 107 calories a bottle, says the sales pitch.

Meanwhile, Carlsberg's new she-ale Copenhagen is a brew glowingly described as "a highly drinkable beer with a balanced taste -- a real alternative to white wine and champagne".

The beer is currently doing well in Denmark and Norway and the company hopes to launch it here in 2012.

The breweries virtuously declare they want to right the institutionalised sexism of the male beer bastion although a cynical observer might think the scramble is fuelled by the 30pc decline in beer sales over the past 30 years, and the rise of small independent breweries.

Now big hitters such as Molson Coors and Carlsberg are vowing an end to advertising campaigns depicting beefy males slurping the foamy stuff in front of well-endowed barmaids.

Campaign

We'll soon be seeing a new style of campaign under the slogan 'Hurray for Animee'.

The ads come from film-maker and fashion photographer Norbert Schoerner, who has had work published in the 'New York Times' magazine and 'Vogue'.

"Great," you can hear the sisterhood saying. "Just what we need -- an ad maestro behind campaigns that mostly feature impossibly skinny and vacant-looking models."

But the new feminist drive is not really ideological -- the female market is worth €396m annually, according to the beer companies. However, many women aren't buying it.

"The beer industry alienates women by focusing primarily on men," says Molston Coors spokeswoman Kirsty McCready.

So the company is launching a €2m blitz to entice female drinkers.

Their new range is pretty to look at and "less calorific than wine", according to Ms McCready.

"It tastes fantastic -- we even have a beer designed specially to be drunk with curry," she says.

Molston Coors spoke to more than 30,000 women to find out why they opt for beer so rarely.

What emerged from the research is that several factors put women off buying beer, including too much gas, bitter taste, ugly glassware and a belief it is fattening. Well, the phrase 'beer belly' has to have come from somewhere.

But Ms McCready, a beer drinker herself, says women don't realise beer is actually less fattening than a wine spritzer.

Top of the list in the research stakes is that many women find the inherent sexism in beer advertising and marketing off-putting.

These gripes aren't new, it's just that the beer companies failed to take the information into account.

Equality

For example, when European market research guru Fons Trompenaars investigated the issue, he pinpointed the divide the brewers themselves created between the sexes as the main culprit that puts women off beer.

What women want is to be informed through equal marketing and education, Professor Trompenaars found.

Major breweries such as Molston Coors agree and Animee is the result.

But some women's groups remain unconvinced.

"Finally, a beer for us! And it's pink," mocks a recent headline on the Daily Femme website.

Molson Coors acknowledges their new approach will take time to register.

"Advertising is a big issue, and it's been a big factor in putting women off," admits Ms McCready.

Now the company hopes to redress the balance with its new campaign, and the launch of Animee, a word that might conjure up rides along the River Seine in Paris, but is actually a derivative of a French word meaning animated. The beer itself is brewed in the less glamorous-sounding Burton-on-Trent in the English Midlands.

Molson Coors says its Animee range, which is four per cent proof, so medium alcoholic, will bring equality to the male-dominated beer market.

The company promises its new tipple will "make women's experience with beer a better one".

Lure

One of its light American craft beers, Blue Moon, already does well in this country, where women are more inclined to reach for a beer, research shows.

Molson Coors isn't alone in trying to lure the female demographic. Danish brewery Carlsberg recently entered the fray with Copenhagen and Eve, both targeted at women.

Copenhagen comes in a clear bottle with a minimalist style that the makers claim is a reflection of its eponymous source: "rooted in Copenhagen -- an international city of fashion and design".

Eve is selling well here already.

"We can see there are a number of consumers, especially women, who are very aware of design when they choose beverage products," says Carlsberg spokeswoman Jeanette Elgaard Carlsson. "There may be situations where they are standing in a bar and want their drinks to match their style," she says.

But remember, it's not so long ago women weren't really meant to drink at all, well not in the mainstream anyway -- banished from the public bar and forced to drink in the snug.

Times have changed and official statistics show women make up 17pc of English beer sales, compared with 25pc in North America and 36pc in Ireland.

It may take a while for women to forgive the big breweries which have busily been disenfranchising them from the market for the past 50 years, and are now belatedly hoping to entice them back

The consensus on Animee is that the standard flavour is nice -- light and tasty, and although it smells slightly sweet it tastes, well, like beer.

But others aren't convinced, with one crusty newspaper reviewer declaring: "I was decidedly underwhelmed by the taste. Despite having some pretty pictures of hops on the bottle, if anyone can identify anything even approaching a normal beer flavour in any of these drinks I'll eat my hat."

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