- Budweiser is unveiling a golden lager infused with nitrogen gas called Budweiser Nitro Gold, Anheuser-Busch said in a statement. The company claims the Nitro specialty brew is a first-of-its-kind golden lager with national distribution.
- The beer giant said the offering comes as consumers look for more premium and nitro-infused beverages. Unlike other nitrogen gas-infused beers, Budweiser Nitro Gold does not require a "widget" to energize the Nitro bubbles inside the can.
- Budweiser Nitro Gold asks consumers to break their traditional beer pouring habits. Consumers, for example, are encouraged to shake the beer three times and pour the brew down the middle of the glass.
As consumers increasingly covet premium-based items, the use of nitrogen has become a popular gimmick for beverage companies.
The decision by Anheuser-Busch to add the gas to a new golden lager not only touts the use of the chemical element, but takes a dig at some of its competitors such as Guinness that use a little ball to create the bubbles as a way to differentiate itself.
Nitro is nothing new to beer, or to other beverage categories such as coffee or soda. PepsiCo last year rolled out Nitro Pepsi, which it touted as the first nitrogen-infused soda. Coffee, especially chilled and cold brew varieties that benefit from an injection of nitrogen, has seen explosive growth. The segment skyrocketed 580% between 2011 and 2016, Mintel research noted, with sales remaining strong since then.
As sales of Budweiser, Coors Light and other brews popular among older adults wane, AB InBev-owned Anheuser Busch, Molson Coors and its competitors have partly turned to premium products in a bid to attract consumers back and position their businesses to be more competitive with wine, spirits and craft beers. They've also expanded their reach into other alcoholic options such as hard coffee, kombucha, hard ciders, spiked seltzers and flavored versions of already popular brews, as well as low- or non-alcoholic varieties.
AB InBev said premiumization, a consumer trend across all its markets, is a key priority for the company as it generates incremental growth. These so-called "above core brands," which are responsible for more than a quarter of AB InBev's total volume, grew "double-digits" in 2019, the company said in its earnings report last week. Anheuser-Busch's latest nitro beer offering is a sign the brewer aims to build off of that success as it struggles to offset the slide the company faces in some of its larger beers.
With consumers having a larger variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to choose from, companies need to find ways to make their products stand out. For Anheuser Busch, Budweiser Nitro Gold could resonate with consumers similar to other specialty brews that have been introduced in recent years — such as its Freedom Reserve Red Lager inspired by George Washington and its partnership with Jim Bean to create Budweiser Reserve Copper Lager. None, however, have been enough to move the financial needle for the company.
It appears the move by beer companies such as Anheuser Busch to take advantage of the premium trend sweeping food and beverages is a good one, but so far it's not be enough to offset the broader decline sweeping the space unless one or more the new innovations hits it big with consumers.