Heineken is launching two of its European draught beer brands in the UK this month as part of a move to capitalise on the rapidly growing “special beer” sector.
Affligem Blonde and Wieckse Witte will go on sale in up to 40 London pubs and bars at the end of this month. The brands will then be rolled out nationally in the on-trade.
Heineken has appointed Turnkey Drinks to handle UK marketing and distribution of the beers. The company was set up last year by John Emerson and Dick Humphries, who worked on the UK launch of Belgian beers Hoegaarden and Leffe.
Emerson claims that, while the UK beer market in general has been in decline for the past 30 years, the “special beer” category is growing at a rate of 15 per cent year on year.
“Our strategy with Affligem and Wieckse Witte is to take them to the on-trade as draught beers in order to establish their credibility,” he adds.
Competition in the “special beer” sector is set to intensify over the next couple of years. Scottish & Newcastle, holding company of Scottish Courage, the UK’s largest brewer, is considering UK launches for some of the brands it acquired when it bought Kronenbourg last year (MW November 30, 2000). Its portfolio now includes continental brands such as Kanterbrau, Maes and Grimbergen.