- Budweiser has introduced a limited-edition beer called Harvest Reserve Deep Golden Lager. The company said the product was developed in collaboration with farmers who have supplied barley to Budweiser for generations.
- The new all-malt recipe beer is brewed with U.S.-grown barley toasted for a longer time to provide "a bolder taste and a crisp hoppy aroma that finishes smooth" and has 5.4% ABV, Budweiser said in a release.
- The bottles include the signature of Jim Dixon, a fifth-generation barley farmer who worked with the company on the recipe. Budweiser Harvest Reserve will be available throughout the harvest season in Des Moines, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska.
As limited-edition beers become more popular, Budweiser can use its exclusive beverages to offer beer drinkers a chance to test drive a more targeted product and connect with farmers on a personal level. Consumers can try a different beer — one with a backstory and a personal touch with Jim Dixon's signature on each bottle — brewed under a brand name they know.
More consumers are asking for greater information about food and beverage products they enjoy — wanting to know not just the ingredients, but where they're sourced and who provided them. According to Label Insight, 94% of consumers said they would give loyalty to brands offering complete transparency about their products. So Budweiser's efforts toward more transparency are likely to enhance the chance of marketing and sales success.
The new Harvest Reserve lager will only be available this month in two states. That manufacturing and distribution approach is less financially risky for the brewing giant in case the product doesn't resonate with consumers, but it also conveys an exclusivity factor because of its limited supply.
This isn't the first limited-edition launch for the company. Budweiser recently unveiled Discovery Reserve American Red Lager commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The product features foil-enhanced packaging, iconic Budweiser branding and images inspired by the event. In 2018, Budweiser also introduced a Freedom Reserve Red Lager inspired by George Washington's handwritten recipe found in his military journal.
Other beer companies are taking this limited-edition route as well. Samuel Adams produced a special beer earlier this year in honor of International Women's Day and dedicated to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, while Kraft Heinz and Noon Whistle Brewery collaborated on Mr. IPA-Nut beer. Czech brewery Zatec also helped create an alcohol-free beer last year for chemotherapy patients, and Coors recently re-released its Batch 19 lager to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of Prohibition.
These limited-edition batches and popular cultural associations seem to drum up attention for brewers and tap into current trends. Brewers could use this tactic to help boost sales and profits, which have been lagging in recent years. According to data from industry tracker IWSR, beer volumes dropped 1.5% in 2018 and 1.1% in 2017. Competition from craft products, ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages, and low- and no-alcohol options have been cutting into market share. Add to this scenario the trend toward wine and spirits among millennials, and it's a challenging time for the beer industry.
One route through this difficult period is to release limited-edition beers to test potential products. It could help a company target its marketing effort to draw in new repeat customers. Then, if the short-term beverages perform well, they could become part of a brewer's permanent portfolio.