SABMiller, the world’s second-largest beer brewer, flagged a revolution in American beer drinking habits this morning. Its name is shandy.
Beer mixed with fruit drinks or sodas has been popular in Europe for decades, but its embrace by Americans seems to be part of a growing trend toward lighter, sweeter beer. For the past two years, a subsidiary of SABMiller, the Wisconsin-based Leinenkugel, has been selling a shandy brew, and last summer in particular, “Shandymonium,” as the company likes to call it, seemed to take off. “Leinie’s” are popular in the midwest, and have started to gain attention nationally. SABMiller is hoping this continues.
“Leinenkugel Shandymonium was in full swing again last year, led by Summer Shandy and complemented by successful autumn and spring seasonal,” chief executive Alan Clark said on a conference call following earnings. “Last summer, this brand became the largest USA summer seasonal, delivering double-digit growth.”
The Belgian-style wheat beer Shock Top, one of the best performing craft beers in recent years (owned by the world’s biggest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev) also makes a shandy.
Some have claimed that Blue Moon, another Belgian-style beer, is America’s favorite brew (although this has also been questioned). SABMiller, which owns Blue Moon, said today that the beer posted its 74th consecutive quarter of growth, but its seasonal brew “did not have the performance expected in the year” and is now “receiving renewed focus.”
SABMiller’s numbers were well-received by the markets, mainly because the company is doing better than people expected on cutting costs.