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A-B launches renewed attack on Miller.

A-B launches renewed attack on Miller

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Anheuser-Busch Inc. has paid its smaller rival, Miller Brewing Co., a huge compliment with plans to test market a new beer in Tulsa, OK.

Anheuser-Busch has come up with a beer that is very similar in name and appearance to Miller's Genuine Cold Filtered Draft.

"I guess you could call it copying, but in every business if something is successful you're going to see people jump on the bandwagon," said Bob Bernstein, stock analyst, Edward D. Jones Co. in St. Louis. "Companies don't stand back and applaud their competitor's success. They try to come up with something even better."

The new beer, which was announced recently, is called Busch Cold Filtered Draft. Just like Miller's popular product, it will be sold in clear, longneck bottles.

"Imitation is nothing new for Anheuser-Busch," said Susan Henderson, a spokeswoman, Milwaukee-based Miller. "Miller coined the term cold-filtered in 1985 to describe its exclusive non-heat pasteurization process and Anheuser-Busch wants to turn it into a generic term."

One big difference between the two beers is that Busch Cold Filtered Draft is sensitive to light and could spoil if it's taken out of the box and left on the shelf or in a tub of ice in the backyard.

Anheuser-Busch hasn't sold beer in clear bottles for at least 100 years because, as tour guides at its St. Louis brewery cheerfully note, beer made the Anheuser-Busch way spoils when exposed to light.

Anheuser-Busch uses the entire hop blossom when it makes beer, while Miller extracts the important oils and resins from the blossom and adds them to the brew kettle.

While Miller's process protects the beer from taste-altering light. Anheuser-Busch's does not. The two have had a long-running dispute over their brewing processes.

"We really had a dilemma because we wanted to use a clear bottle but we also wanted to continue our tradition of using only natural ingredients," said Klaus Zastrow, brewmaster, Anheuser-Busch.

Busch Cold Filtered Draft will be made with natural ingredients and the clear bottles will be packaged in a light-proof cardboard box that will protect the beer.

However, once the beer comes out of the box it's susceptible to spoilage, Zastrow said.

"If you're talking about a bright, sunny day, it could be a matter of minutes before the beer develops this off-flavor." Zastrow said, "If you're inside it could take hours."

Because of this uncertainty, Anheuser-Busch has decided to test Busch Cold Filtered Draft in just one city, Tulsa, OK, and sell the beer initially in restaurants and taverns only.

Zastrow said some people may enjoy the change in the taste.

"The exposure to light will enhance the hoppy flavor and the beer will taste more European," Zastrow said.

Company officials said they expect to determine whether the new product is viable after a month or two of market research in Tulsa.

Michael Roarty, director of marketing, Anheuser-Busch, said the company has wanted to use a clear bottle for some time to serve the niche of beer drinkers who like to see what they drink.

Anheuser Busch sells 17 other brands of beer, including Busch and Busch Light. The company uses a cold filtering process to make Busch Light and Bud Dry, which is scheduled to be rolled out nationally in two weeks.

All beer is cold-filtered, but beer that advertises the "cold filtered process" undergoes a second, highly pressurized cold-filtering to remove yeast cells. That second process takes the place of pasteurization.
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Title Annotation:Anheuser Busch Inc.; Miller Brewing Co.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Apr 9, 1990
Words:586
Previous Article:Bud Dry is rolled out nationally.
Next Article:Farmers sue A-B over barley seed.
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