A-B seeing red: New brew on tap for nat'l rollout

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Anheuser-Busch is testing a new red lager, with an eye toward national rollout next year.

Killarney's, which is being tested on tap in Grand Rapids, Mich., is brewed with Irish whiskey and brewers malt. It will compete with George Killian's Irish Red Lager, marketed by Coors Brewing Co. Killian's is the No. 2 domestically brewed superpremium regular beer, after A-B's Michelob.

A-B started testing Killarney's in late February. It plans to expand the test later this year and perhaps roll out nationally in 2001, said an executive close to the brewer.

There is currently no advertising for Killarney's, and it could not be determined whether an agency has been named. A-B's roster of shops includes DDB Worldwide and Leap Partnership, both Chicago; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco; Heater Advertising, Boston; Open Minds, Laguna Beach, Calif.; and Waylon Advertising, St. Louis.

Killarney's is the latest foray into red beers for A-B, which launched Red Wolf Lager in 1994 along with Elephant Red and Elk Mountain Red Lager. The latter two eventually were dropped.

"There was a flurry of red beers," said Eric Shepard, executive editor of Beer Marketer's Insights. "[but] there's not much of a red beer category now."

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