Blonde will be brewed in Latrobe, Pa., at a contract brewery called
City Brewing, but will be made using a Guinness yeast imported from
Dublin. The result will be a lager on the hoppier side -- but not
overly hoppy -- with a hint of "biscuity" flavor, said Doug
Campbell, director of Diageo's beer business.
is to introduce two Discovery Series beers each year featuring
various styles. While Blonde will become a permanent fixture in the
Guinness line-up, some of the brews might be limited editions, Mr.
Campbell said. The brand hasn't settled on the next brew in the
series, but it is expected to launch in the spring.
is to "fuse local knowledge" with brewing advancements developed in
Dublin "in a way to satisfy the growing demand for what we call
discovery beer," Mr. Campbell said, noting that the beer market is
being driven by a thirst for "the new, the different and
interesting." TV ads for Blonde will debut in mid-October and will
"focus pretty heavily in on what exactly the beer is and why we
think it's an interesting beer to try," he said.
Discovery Series follows recent moves by other traditionally
imported brands to begin U.S. production. Examples include
Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Beck's, for which production for U.S.
drinkers was moved from Germany to St. Louis in 2011, and Diageo's
Red Stripe beer, a Jamaican brand now made at City Brewing. Diageo
periodically examines moving production of regular Guinness to the
U.S., but has always settled on keeping production overseas, Mr.
states there is still a certain amount of magic about the classic
Guinness being brewed in Dublin," he said. But he acknowledged a
"tension" in the beer world: More people want to "buy from a
brewery next door to me" he said. But "at the very same time when
it comes to imports, there is still a demand for the expertise, the
heritage [and] artistry that a lot of imported brands have," he
The Discovery Series, he said, seeks to "take
the best of both worlds and combine them to give the drinker
something that they haven't necessarily tried before."
Blonde launch follows the 2011 debut of Guinness Black Lager, which
represented the brand's first big bet on the lager style, which
despite the rise of U.S. ales still commands a majority of domestic
demand. Traditional Guinness Draught is a creamy, dark-as-night
Irish stout. Black Lager was positioned as both darkly-colored and
refreshing, in an attempt to break the unwritten rule in beer that
only lighter-colored beers can be easy-drinking.
Lager is "not as big today as we'd hoped, but we think we can
capture [greater sales] with a blonde lager," Tom Looney, president
of Diageo-Guinness USA , said in a recent interview with alcohol
trade publication Shanken News Daily. Asked about that, Mr.
Campbell said Black Lager has "performed pretty well. We sold over
a million cases in its first 12 months."
prepares Blonde Lager, Diageo is continuing efforts to beat back
misperceptions that regular Guinness is high in calories, just
because it is dark and creamy. The brew has 124 calories, which is
only 14 more calories than Bud Light. One recent ad suggested that
"a great way to go lighter, is to go darker."
~ ~ ~
An earlier version of this story stated the series would feature a
range of U.S.-made beers. It is possible that some Discovery Series
beers will be imported, although future plans are still to be