Whitbread is relaunching its superstrength lager Tungsten, originally introduced in 1995 to take on Tennent’s Super and Carlsberg Special Brew.
At the same time, Bass has axed its superstrength Tennent’s Super Ice in bottles following disappointing sales through off-licences.
Tungsten has an alchoholic strength of nine per cent by volume, and Whitbread claims it gives less of a hangover than other beers, as it is made with husk-free barley.
Marketing manager Ian Tweedale says: “We are relaunching the packaging of Tungsten, but only with below-the-line support. Our expectations for the brand were higher [when it launched].”
He says the superstrength lager sector has a problem with its distribution, as some cash and carry operators avoid paying tax on the products.
Cash and carry outlets sell about 70 per cent of all superstrength lagers, mainly to independent retailers.
Tweedale adds: “One issue for the superstrength sector is that some cash and carry operators deal with the product without paying tax. They send the paperwork abroad and claim that it was sold abroad to avoid paying tax. As this is not legal, it is hard to track down the problem.”
Superstrenth lager accounts for about one tenth of the total takehome lager market, which is worth nearly 2.5bn. It is comparatively insignificant in the on-trade sector.