Bass to take on Stella with Carling launch

Bass Brewers is launching a premium version of Carling – the biggest beer brand in the UK- called Carling Rock, in a move to plug the gap in its portfolio left by the absence of a premium packaged lager.

The new brand, understood to be a five per cent proof by volume lager, will launch in the next two weeks.

Carling Rock is Bass’ first new product for two years. In 1996, it launched alcopop Hooper’s Hooch and Carling Premier and rolled out Caffrey’s smooth-flow ale.

The new brand extension is called Rock because of the filtration process used to remove impurities, with the brew dripped over rocks. The process is similar to ice beer, which uses freezing to remove impurities. Observers say the taste of Rock compares with that of Bud Ice , a rival to the new brew. It is the first time Carling has been available in a bottle.

The move is an attempt by Bass, which is still reeling from its failed attempt to buy Carlsberg-Tetley last year, to have a brand which can take on Scottish Courage’s Beck’s, Whitbread’s Stella Artois and Budweiser.

Bass has relaunched Grolsch, though there are varying reports of its success. Earlier this year, it dropped the “Black Label” tag from Carling to make way for the brand extension. Observers predict there could be more extensions to follow.

News Analysis, page 19

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