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Guinness Blonde American Lager

Posted by on in December 2014 Editions
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With the launch of Guinness American Blonde Lager, the Guinness Brewery is taking a page straight out of a college marketing textbook.  When a mature product begins to decline, the brand owner has the option of trying to rejuvenate an iconic brand, or it can add a new product to the product line and trade off the strength of the existing brand.  Guinness wants to accomplish both objectives.

Sales of Guinness Stout, similar to other popular global beer brands, have been on the decline in recent years.  Younger beer drinkers who haven’t actually tried the brand have a perception that it is heavy, filling, too alcoholic and loaded with calories.  Although none of these perceptions are entirely accurate, it is a short leap from perception to reality.  Unfortunately for iconic Guinness Stout, the brand is also burdened with a stigma of being “my father’s beer”.  And, as consumer goods manufacturers are beginning to learn, Millennials want to be different from their parents’ generation.

Guinness American Blonde Lager is a logical follow on to another recent Guinness product, Guinness Black Lager, which was introduced a couple of years ago.  The brewer has made a major shift in product strategy, and now believes it is time to move toward lagers and away from relying solely on stout for it success.  It is a case of “fishing where the fish are.”  The overall sales of lager beers, despite the recent success of craft ales, continue to be the most popular style of beer in the United States and far outweigh the sale of stouts and other ales. 

Guinness Blonde American Lager is the first product in the “Discovery Series” of beers, and is a radical departure from the famous black stout brewed at Guinness’ St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin.  The judicious use of a well-known brand name can be considered to be good marketing as long as a limited number of brand extensions are developed using the name of the flagship brand. There is a fine line between having too many brand extensions that result in diluting the power of the original brand.  For now, it doesn’t appear Guinness is in danger of either over using its brand name or diluting its brand equity.

Some might say Guinness Blonde American Lager is really a lager beer brewed for ale lovers.  Its dark gold color clearly tells us it isn’t your typical Guinness Beer.  When poured, a large puffy head of foam appears and lingers in a beer clean glass. The drinking experience itself is characterized by plenty of mild hop notes throughout.  A combination of American grown Mosiac hops (for aroma and bittering),  Williamette hops (aromas earth and spice) and Mt. Hood hops (aroma of grass and flowers) are used for aroma and flavor purposes.  The body, the color and the 5% alcohol level (abv) are provided by American Crystal Malt.  The ever present ale overtones are the result of using the traditional Guinness yeast which is imported from Ireland.  However, the beer itself is actually brewed in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

No doubt some beer drinkers will take a critical approach to this and other new innovative Guinness brands.  Instead, we should say “Slainte!” (cheers) and applaud Guinness, an old established company for re-inventing itself and bringing out new types of products.  Another product, dubbed a specialty beer, “Guinness 1759” will be available this holiday season. There is more than a kernel of truth to the idea that if you don’t grow, you will atrophy and eventually go away.  Guinness is too important to the world’s beerscape for that to happen.