Stella Artois ‘Cidre’ Launches Nationally

Betting on continued growth of the rapidly developing U.S. cider market, Anheuser-Busch InBev today announced plans to nationally distribute its Stella Artois Cidre brand.

The dry European-style cider, which was first introduced in 26 states last May, will be available across the U.S. in 4-packs, 24 oz. bottles and on draft.

“When we launched Stella Artois Cidre, we saw that the cider market in the U.S. was poised for continued growth,” Chris Hanson, the brand manager for Cidre said in press release.

A-B InBev’s predictions became reality: off-premise dollar sales of cider grew over 100 percent last year, totaling over $212 million, according to Chicago-based research firm IRI. On-premise cider volumes grew last year as well, to the tune of 49 percent, according to a recent report from GuestMetrics.

A-B InBev’s continued foray into cider comes as the company’s two largest beer brands — Bud Light and Budweiser — continue to face weakening sales. Off-premise volume sales for Bud Light fell by 2 percent, while Budweiser was down 3.3 percent in 2013.

Despite surging growth in the category, cider represents less than 1 percent of the total U.S. beer market. However, it’s not the “typical beer drinker” that A-B InBev is targeting with Stella Cidre.

“We’re… going primarily for the white wine drinker,” Hanson said in a recent interview with CNBC. “The majority of our volume is coming outside of the traditional beer category, so it’s coming from ciders, wines and spirits.”

Of course, A-B InBev isn’t the only brewing company looking to take advantage of the boom in hard cider. MillerCoors acquired the Crispin Cider brand in 2012 and also plans to rollout a new cider line called Smith and Forge cider in March. Meanwhile, Boston Beer Company continues to put significant resources behind its Angry Orchard brand, which grew to over $76 million in off-premise dollar sales in 2013, a 300 percent increase over the previous year.

Stella will commemorate the launch at Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah this Friday.

A-B InBev’s full press release of the national launch of Stella Cidre is below:

PARK CITY, Utah — Stella Artois today announced Stella Artois Cidre, the crisp, dry European-style cider launched to widespread acclaim in May 2013, is launching nationwide. As a long-time supporter of cinema and the Sundance Film Festival, Stella Artois Cidre is using the festival’s gorgeous wintry backdrop to host a series of occasions showcasing the versatility that has driven Stella Artois Cidre’s success.

In May 2013, Stella Artois Cidre was introduced in 26 states. Since then, the increasingly popular beverage has been an important part of a surging U.S. cider market—which is growing more than 100 percent annually. Stella Artois Cidre will now be available in all 50 states. It will also now be available on draught in bars and restaurants nationwide.

“When we launched Stella Artois Cidre, we saw that the cider market in the U.S. was poised for continued growth,” said Chris Hanson, Stella Artois. “White wine drinkers in particular have been drawn to Stella Artois Cidre. So, we have decided to expand the Stella Artois Cidre footprint both on shelves and on tap, and where better to celebrate than in the crisp mountain air of Sundance Film Festival?”

To commemorate this expansion, Stella Artois is hosting a range of events at Sundance, including a launch party on Friday, January 17, featuring a surprise performance from an acclaimed musical guest amidst a chic “winter orchard” setting in the Stella Artois Cidre Lodge. The Stella Artois Cidre national launch will be supported by a major media push, including a national advertising campaign.

Elizabeth Banks will join the festivities as a special guest, to toast the success of Stella Artois Cidre.

Stella Artois Cidre is distinct from cider competitors in many ways. It is a crisp European-style cider made with apples hand-picked in wine-growing regions in the Americas. It is a sophisticated cider, drier than many of the sweet domestic brands that occupy American shelves.

Throughout Sundance, Stella Artois Cidre will host food tastings and private dinners as the food-pairing versatility of a crisp, complex cider such as Stella Artois Cidre is one reason the brand has surged in popularity since launch. The brand’s distinctive flavor profile has proven popular among white wine drinkers in particular.

As such, Stella Artois Cidre is served in a white wine glass, and pairs well with chicken, fish and a broad selection of cheeses, including Camembert-style cheeses, English cheddars, semi-firm cheeses such as Gruyere and washed-rind cheeses. Stella Artois Cidre’s tart profile also balances well with Asian and spicy foods and light salads.

At 4.5 percent alcohol by volume, Stella Artois Cidre is available in two packaging configurations: four-packs of 12-ounce bottles and single, 24-ounce bottles. As noted, Stella Artois Cidre will also be available on draught.

About Stella ArtoisÔÇ¿: Stella Artois┬« is part of a Belgian brewing tradition dating back to 1366. It is the No. 1 Belgian beer in the world and is present in over 80 countries. Stella Artois┬« is a bottom filtered, blonde pilsner. It is thirst quenching with a malty middle and crisp finish delivering a full flavor and a hint of bitterness. Stella Artois┬« is best enjoyed served between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius and should be served in the unique Stella Artois┬« Chalice according to the 9-Step Pouring Ritual to guarantee a perfect experience of this gold standard lager.

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