I recently went on and on about the many niche markets Anheuser-Busch was looking into infiltrating both within the beer market and outside of it. Looks like I missed one. According to Miller’s BrewBlog, a trademark application has been filed by A-B for an alcoholic tea to be known as “Pier 21.”
The first to make this type of malternative product I’m aware of was Bison Brewing of Berkeley, California. The brewery is generally known for its excellent organic beers but for a period of time they made a line of Hard Ice Tea using flavors like Green Tea and Red Hibiscus. I think there were eventually four or five different flavors. They took a lot of flack for them at the time, but as these things go they weren’t too bad. They certainly tasted good and were much less offensive them the sweeter malternatives that were all the rage around the same time. Due to issues with their contract brewer, they stopped production of them a little while ago. Of course, I should disclose I’m a tea drinker — it’s my preferred vehicle of caffeine delivery. I drink at least a 1 liter bottle of Tejava per day (it’s simply microbrewed tea, unsweetened and with nothing added).
Boston Beer still makes Twisted Tea, their version of a hard ice tea, which now comes in four flavors. It’s most likely the category — or would that be subcategory — leader. BrewBlog mentions that ‘[f]or the 13 weeks ended May 27, Twisted Tea sales increased 44% to more than 55,000 cases.”
Mike’s makes a Hard Iced Tea, too. They’re most well-known for their Hard Lemonade which was — and perhaps still is, I don’t follow these things if I can help it — one of the more popular of the lemonade flavored alcopops. There may be more, but I’m not aware of them.
The application A-B filed described Pier 21 as an “alcoholic tea-based beverage.” This would be yet another niche market along the long tail that A-B might be pursuing. They are already making and/or distributing the malternatives Bacardi Silver, BE (B-to-the-E), Peels (alcoholic fruit juices), and Tilt (an energy malt beverage).
They also used to make Doc Otis, a lemonade flavored alcopop to compete with Mike’s, Hopper’s Hooch, Two Dogs and other hard lemonades during the heyday of such products.
Whatever happened to the old Doc? Can he be found on a golf course, having retired and moved to Florida?