Guinness, Murphy's bottle it up

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Guinness Bass Import Co.'s Guinness and Heineken USA's Murphy's Irish Stout are rolling out bottled brews in the U.S., giving barflies their stout faster than the 2 minutes it takes the bartender to draw a pint.

The Guinness bottles, which will be launched in the fall, were unveiled in the U.K. and Ireland.

In addition to bar distribution, the brew will be sold in six-packs at retail, with the price as yet undetermined, according to a spokesman. Initially, no advertising will accompany the launch.

Guinness, the No. 1 stout in the U.S., sold about 9.6 million cases last year, 10% more than the 8.7 million sold in 1998, according to Impact.

It's well ahead of Murphy's, its closest competitor, which sold about 500,000 cases in 1998. Case sales for Murphy's in 1999 were unavailable.

EXPLODING SALES

"Guinness is flying," said Frank Walters, Impact's director of research. "The brand is exploding here."

Murphy's new line will sell in $5 four-bottle packs that hit the Northeast in early March with the rest of the country to follow by October. Regional print ads by Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, New York, and point-of-sale promotions will support.

IT'S IN THE WIDGET

A widget allows the stout to be sold in cans and bottles rather than just on tap.

The widget contains liquid nitrogen, which is released when the bottle or can is opened, thereby making the stout as creamy as when it is delivered from a tap, the marketers said. Widgets are fixed inside cans but float in bottles.

"Murphy's in a can is the same as Murphy's in the bottle is the same as Murphy's in the keg," a spokesman said.

Stout growth is keeping pace with the imported beer category, which grew about 12% last year.

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