A-B Goes for the Ale

Anheuser-Busch is releasing American Ale this week; a hoppier, more amber-colored version of its older sibling Budweiser which is second only to bestselling Bud Light.

The nation’s largest brewer hopes that the ale will woo new drinkers who may not have reached for the brand before, said Dave Peacock, vice president of marketing for Anheuser-Busch Cos.

Anheuser-Busch’s move is part of its strategy to innovate off core brands Budweiser and Bud Light. The value of those brands is one reason that Belgian brewer InBev cited when it made a $52 billion deal for Anheuser-Busch this past summer.

The push to spin new products off staple brands comes as large, domestic brewers, including No. 2 player MillerCoors Llc., go after drinkers who are increasingly snubbing big-name brands. Those drinkers are looking for more variety and niche products, often from craft brewers. MillerCoors had hoped to release a trio of craft styles of top seller Miller Lite nationally this fall, with an ale among them. But the company has since backed out of that, saying it needs to rethink the effort.

A six-pack of the new American Ale will cost about $1.50 more than a six-pack of Budweiser or Bud Light, Anheuser-Busch says.