Carlsberg considers reselling a 133-year-old lager as it looks to reclaim its ‘craft beer’ heritage

Carlsberg is ‘rebrewing’ its original beer using yeast cells from a 133-year-old beer bottle as part of a new global campaign that it hopes will re-establish it as a craft beer brand.

As part of the campaign, the beer brand has produced 30 beer bottles that replicate the very first Carlsberg lager. The bottles were produced using the original pure yeast and exact same recipe, ingredients and brewing techniques as in 1883.

By signing up online, consumers are able to try the beer in tasting sessions that will take place in all of Carlsberg’s major markets. The brand is also releasing a 45-minute documentary showcasing how it brewed the batch and it is hoping streaming services such as Netflix will consider picking up the film.

Rasmus Bendtsen, Carlberg’s global marketing manager, told Marketing Week that Carlsberg is keen to tell story of the historic lager in an entertaining and engaging way.

“[Yeast] is part of our daily life. We haven’t told the world it originates from Carlsberg, but we felt that we should do it in a modern and entertaining way. We have done it in the past in a way that nobody found interesting, so we wanted to change that,” he said.

“Having the Carlsberg Laboratory for 140 years is a hard message to tell. It’s not easy to do in a 30-second TV ad, so we knew we had to make it interesting in order for people to relate to the problem [that brewers faced] at that time. That’s why we decided to create a short clip and tasting sessions, as well as a documentary.”

Reclaiming its craft status

One of the 30 Carlsberg bottles, using the brand’s original beer bottle shape.

The campaign aims to change its image among consumers, who are increasingly turning away from big brands in favour of craft variants. Bendtsen insisted that Carlsberg was “the first craft brewer” in the world that gained mainstream popularity.

“Now the craft world has redefined what is craft and what is not craft. Carlsberg lager is excellent quality. We probably need to tell the world and prove going forward that ‘Probably the best beer in the world’ isn’t just a fancy slogan. Carlsberg isn’t your local brewery around the corner, but a quality beer [available] on every corner,” he added.

“It seems [the UK] has a high degree of speciality and craft. In those markets, we need to show and tell the public what makes Carlsberg probably the best beer in the world.”

READ MORE: Craft beer brands risk a ‘clash of cultures’ as major brewers look to cash in

Even though there are no current plans for commercialising the project and producing more bottles, Bendtsen won’t rule out a more permanent rollout.

He concluded: “It seems there is a huge interest in tasting. It’s very important to say that there are no plans for commercialising and launching it, but if there’s a huge interest in a tasting and we’re only producing 400 litres, then why not accommodate the wish of the beer world?”

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