16 June 2023

Buena vida: Madri overtakes Stella Artois in UK on-premise

United Kingdom | The Mediterranean lager trend shows no signs of slowing down. Gavin Hattersley, CEO of Molson Coors, proudly reported at the Brewers Forum in Prague that his Madri Excepcional has recently overtaken Stella Artois in UK on-premise sales.

The English beer writer Roger Protz may complain (in a post on 15 April) that the Big Brewers bamboozle UK punters with their lager brands – most are actually brewed in the UK rather than imported, and at a lower ABV than their original versions. Just about the only major lager brand that is a genuine import is Peroni, owned by the Japanese brewer Asahi, which is still brewed in Italy.

 Mr Protz thinks that the “biggest lulu of the lot” is Madri, launched with great fanfares in 2020. Madri is an affectionate term for people who live in Madrid so clearly the beer is made in the Spanish capital.

“Even though Madri carries the label Excepcional it’s not only unexceptional at 4.6 percent ABV, but it isn’t brewed in Madrid or anywhere else in Spain. It was developed by Molson Coors, a Canadian and American conglomerate based in the former Bass brewery in Burton-on-Trent,” Mr Protz points out.

Crucampo with lower ABV

Madri may have been dreamt up by marketers, but punters are obviously lapping up the advertising - so much so that Madri rose to become one of the UK’s top 10 best-selling lager brands in the on-premise.

Seeing that four so-called Mediterranean lager already rank among the best-selling lager brands, Heineken seems to be aiming for a repeat of its Moretti feat by launching its Spanish lager, Cruzcampo. The version of Cruzcampo that Heineken introduced in April is 4.4 percent ABV, while the beer brewed in Sevilla is 4.8 percent ABV.

Mr Protz is correct in stressing that the lower alcohol content will make a substantial difference to the taste of the beer - and not least to Heineken’s UK excise payments.

Beer with sea salt anyone?

Meanwhile many observers wonder if Heineken’s latest Moretti line extension – Moretti Sale di Mare – will eventually hit the UK, too. The beer, which is not available in Italy, only in the Netherlands (since April), is probably another “lulu” to use Mr Protz’ term.

Brewed in Belgium, it is a Pilsner with added sea salt (not a Gose beer) and at 5.5 percent ABV most likely too alcoholorific for the British market. On the website untappd it has a rating of 3.14, which is not great, but in line with other Pilsner ratings.

Best-selling lager brands in UK 2022

UK on-premise sales 12 months until 8 October 2022. Data: CGA strategy


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