The owners of Budweiser beer and Jim Beam bourbon whiskey — Anheuser-Busch InBev and Beam Suntory, respectively — are launching a collaborative beer called Budweiser Reserve Copper Lager this fall.
The limited-edition beverage will be brewed using two-row barley and aged on Jim Beam bourbon barrel staves, according to AB InBev. It will debut in September on the 85th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.
As part of the new beer's marketing campaign, the two brands are emphasizing their shared experience of persevering through the Prohibition era when neither was legally allowed to make their products. The brands will also start a "beer and bourbon shot" promotion at bars this month.
Budweiser likely stands to gain more traction from this collaboration than Jim Beam since the beer brand has recently been on a decline as craft brews and other lagers grab market share.
Bourbon, on the other hand, is on the upswing as millennials and other people try out cocktails and explore premium sipping brands. A 2016 survey noted that millennials drink more alcohol than Generation X and baby boomers. Researchers have also have noted that millennials experiment more often with alcohol brands and types.
This partnership is not the first in the alcohol space. Other cross-product innovations have been cropping up lately in the beer and spirits categories. Constellation Brands is bringing out a Western Standard beer to be finished in bourbon barrels, Ad Age reported. The company also introduced a Cooper and Thief red wine blend and a Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon aged the same way.
These hybrid products could intrigue connoisseurs of different kinds of alcohol — as well as those occasional drinkers who simply like to try something new and interesting, particularly if it offers a unique flavor profile. It possible that bourbon lovers might be interested in trying the new brew and increase their beer consumption in the long term as a result. As consumer demand for authentic, unusual beverage experiences grows, it's likely that major beer, wine and spirits makers will continue to roll out unconventional products to try and differentiate from their competition.
The industry could also see other limited-edition, collaborative products emerge if this fall's debut of the new Budweiser product proves popular. If the strategy creates enough buzz — and financial success — it may spread to other categories looking for growth, such as frozen foods or snacks. In the case of Budweiser and other big beer makers, experiments and partnerships like this one carry little risk in their ongoing search to improve sales and withstand mounting competition.