MillerCoors’ Third Shift Touts Passion, Further Blurs ‘Craft Beer’ Definition

If the definitions of “craft” and “crafty” weren’t muddled enough, Third Shift Amber Lager, the latest release from MillerCoors, should do the trick.

“This amber lager is a gold-medal winning brew within the Marzen category,” David Coors, Third Shift brand manager, said in a release. “We call it Third Shift to properly honor the brewers who worked through the night in order to pursue their passion of developing something truly unique. Introducing this beer nationally speaks to the people who never stop in the pursuit of their own passions.”

The beer, which the company calls “a smooth and easy drinking amber lager, well balanced with a sweet maltiness, lightly toasted character, subtle hops and a beautiful color,” contains 5.3 percent alcohol by volume and 182 calories per 12 oz. serving. Brewed in Fort Worth, Texas and released on Feb. 1, the lager is currently available on draught, in 16 oz. cans and in 12 oz. bottles at stores and in bars throughout the country.

“Simply put, our love of beer and passion for brewing doesn’t stop when they day is over,” a brewer said in the release. “Our amber lager is just the beginning of what’s to come from Third Shift.”

While MillerCoors boasts the beer’s crowning achievement – a gold medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival – across its packaging and marketing materials, the company also seems to be rallying around a central message — “passion” — when communicating with consumers. Multiple posts from the company on the Third Shift Facebook page mention the passion of the company’s brewers and their “love” for quality beer.

MillerCoors isn’t marketing the product through its craft and import division, Tenth and Blake, which includes products like Blue Moon and Leinenkugel; rather, it hopes that Third Shift will stand on its own, according to Colleen Nauer, a company spokeswoman.

The emphasis on passion seems to indicate that the company is targeting an audience of beer drinkers looking to experiment with higher-quality offerings. Such forays by larger beer companies have led to accusations that they are making products that some consumers would call a “crafty” brew masquerading as “craft.” While MillerCoors might suggest that consumers base their buying decisions on the beer’s taste, the Brewers Association (BA) would call this lager a “faux-craft” offering. In December, the BA, which represents the business of craft brewers, wrote an editorial column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that bashed giant beer companies and explained the differences between “craft” and “crafty” beer.

“They sell these beers through their strong distribution channels, but market these faux-craft beers as if they were from independent, locally owned craft breweries,” the BA wrote.

A craft brewer, according to the BA, is small (producing less than 6 million barrels per year) and independent (less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry).

Nauer said that the company plans to roll out additional Third Shift offerings later this year.

The full press release is below:

FORT WORTH, TX – Everyone loves a good story, and this one is about beer, passion and never clocking out. Following a test run this past summer, Third Shift Amber Lager is now available at retailers and bars nationwide.

Third Shift is as much about collaboration as it is invention – the shared pride that comes from creating something truly great. The Band of Brewers, a dedicated group of brewers, joined forces to create Third Shift, a smooth and easy drinking amber lager – well balanced with a sweet maltiness, lightly toasted character, subtle hops and a beautiful color at 5.3 percent alcohol by volume.

“This amber lager is a gold-medal winning brew within the Marzen category. We call it Third Shift to properly honor the brewers who worked through the night in order to pursue their passion of developing something truly unique,” said David Coors, Third Shift brand manager. “Introducing this beer nationally speaks to the people who never stop in the pursuit of their own passions.”

Third Shift Amber Lager became available on draft, in 16 ounce cans and in 12 ounce bottles at select bars and retailers across the country beginning February 1, 2013.

“Simply put, our love of beer and passion for brewing doesn’t stop when the day shift is over,” explains one member of the Band of Brewers. “Our amber lager is just the beginning of what’s to come from Third Shift.”

About MillerCoors

Built on a foundation of great beer brands and nearly 300 years of brewing heritage, MillerCoors continues the commitment of its founders to brew the highest quality beers.  MillerCoors is the second-largest beer company in the United States, capturing nearly 30 percent of beer sales in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.  Led by two of the best-selling beers in the industry, MillerCoors has a broad portfolio of brands across every major industry segment. 

The portfolio is led by the company’s premium light brands: Coors Light, Miller Lite and Miller64.  Coors Light, the World’s Most Refreshing Beer, offers consumers refreshment as cold as the Rockies.  Miller Lite established the American light beer category in 1975, offering beer drinkers a light beer that tastes like beer should.  Miller64 is 64 calories of crisp, light taste that complements a balanced lifestyle. MillerCoors brews premium beers Coors Banquet and Miller Genuine Draft, and economy brands Miller High Life and Keystone Light. 

Tenth and Blake Beer Company, the MillerCoors craft and import division, imports Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Pilsner Urquell and Grolsch, and features craft brews from the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Blue Moon Brewing Company and the Blitz-Weinhard Brewing Company.  MillerCoors operates eight major breweries in the U.S., as well as the Leinenkugel’s craft brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wisc., and two microbreweries, the Tenth Street Brewery in Milwaukee and the Blue Moon Brewing Company at Coors Field in Denver.  The MillerCoors vision is to create the best beer company in America through great people changing the way America enjoys beer. MillerCoors builds its brands the right way through brewing quality, responsible marketing and sustainable environmental and community impact.  MillerCoors is a joint venture of SABMiller plc and Molson Coors Brewing Company.

Brewery: Millercoors Brewing Co - Fort Worth Website: http://wwwmillercoors.com
Address: 7001 S Freeway
Fort Worth, TX 76314-4099
United States
  • Montanaandy

    I am certain that New Belgium which has their “Shift” lager will be thrilled with MillerCoors Third Shift Amber Lager. Let the lawsuit begin…

    • http://twitter.com/thetophus thetophus

      A lawsuit is doubtful considering New Belgium is distributed through MillerCoors.

      • Bostonbrewer

        Not true, three tier law prohibits a manufacturer or retailer from owning a distributor and vice versa. While certain distributors are heavily allied with one of the major macros, their distribution capabilities is limited to one state, and more often one region. So while new Belgium May happen to be distributed by a millercoors house where you are, at best that is only in your state and more likely just your region. New Belgium would have to have separate contracts with other distributors in the other 16 states they are in.

  • joshk253

    It’s still a lager. Whether it’s the color of pee or amber it’s still a lager. Oh and corporate beer still sucks. As long as the ingredients are piss poor the beer will beer too.

  • Urbanism

    Just tried it, was fooled by the label. Is it better than most other Coors or Miller products? Yes. Is it a good beer? No. It has no character.

  • Harry Krinkle

    Gotta admit, I was fooled. It tastes remarkably like Shiner Boch, and I’ll admit that I like both. Disappointed this comes from a big brewery, but on taste alone I actually got into it. I think some people are letting their bias affect their taste buds, though.