MillerCoors may be feeling a little pressure from the craft brewing industry, even if it won’t directly confess its anxiety.
MillerCoors is planning a series of smaller batch beers that it will market and distribute in a way similar to that of the craft brewing industry. The first in this series is Coors Third Shift Amber Lager and it has already debuted in parts of Nevada, Texas, and California. The beer has been acknowledged at the 2012 World Beer Cup and it could signal a new direction for the large macrobrewer, normally associated with bland, undistinguished products.
Coors Third Shift Amber Lager has been described as a craft beer, but official word is that MillerCoors will not describe it this way. Instead, MillerCoors will promote the beer as an “invitation” beer, which, according to sources, is supposed to mean a warm- up to a craft beer; a product that is easier- drinking and priced lower than most craft beer products, making it easier to afford.
Craft beer lovers have had little to celebrate from MillerCoors, either before or after the merger of the two beer- making giants. Coors Winterfest was a good craft beer product and one of only a handful of products from either company to earn a stamp of approval from the craft beer crowd. This new beer, Coors Third Shift Amber Lager, could be the beginning of something worthwhile. It is a longshot, but we will keep our fingers crossed and hope that MillerCoors develops its new series of beer in a more craft- oriented direction.