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Heileman denies pitching same brew under a new label.

A federal agency spokesperson says a new malt liquor being offered by G. Heileman Brewing Co. is a renamed, acceptable version of the PowerMaster label that was rejected by regulators last year.

But the brewery contends the product, Colt 45 Premium malt liquor, is something different from the PowerMaster brand that the federal Bureau of Alcohol. Tobacco and Firearms rejected last July.

Minority group and others criticized Heileman for introducing PowerMaster and contracting with other companies to brew and distribute St. Ides and Crazy Horse malt liquors. They said the marketing schemes targeted socially-troubled, poor minorities.

Bureau spokesperson Jack Killorin said last week that PowerMaster was rejected by the agency because its name violated federal laws that prohibit labels and advertising from referring to the strength of the brew.

"We never had any problem with the product in the can. That's not relevant. It's what the product was called," Killorin said.

Killorin said Heileman was allowed to rename the product. He said the brewer submitted Colt 45 Premium to replace PowerMaster.

"Our information is this was the new label for the product PowerMaster. I'm not aware of any changes they made in the product," Killorin said.

But Randy Smith, Heileman vice president and general counsel. said Colt 45 Premium is not PowerMaster renamed.

Smith said the product is a "line extension" of Colt 45 malt liquor.

"It is not Colt PowerMaster. Period," he said.

A coalition of Milwaukee minority and civic leaders, said they plan to protest the introduction of St. Ides to the Milwaukee market this summer.

Rev. Jesse Brown, a Philadelphia minister who led opposition that successfully forced R.J. Reynolds to cancel plans to market a cigarette aimed at blacks, said he would also protest the introduction of Heileman's Colt Premium Smith and other Heileman officials said earlier that brewing for others helps the company remain viable, and that the company has no control over the ad and marketing schemes used by the owners of the label.

Charles Powell, Heileman's vice president of marketing, told the Wall Street Journal that Colt 45 Premium aims at men, not blacks.

The LaCrosse, WI-based brewer recently emerged from bankruptcy and industry experts say Heileman is willing to accept negative publicity as the nation's largest producer of malt liquor because it is profitable.

Smith said malt liquors are saving jobs at Heileman plants, especially in Baltimore and Portland, where most of the company's high-alcohol beer is made.
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Title Annotation:G. Heileman Brewing Company Inc.'s PowerMaster label
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:May 25, 1992
Words:406
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