Brakspear has taken up the challenge laid-down by Shadow Chancellor Michael Portillo by introducing a new low alcohol beer into its estate.During a speech at last year's Publican Conference, Portillo announced that he intended to reduce duty on beer below 2.4 per cent ABV to the European target rate of 8p a pint if the Tories were to win the forthcoming election.Inspired by Portillo's proposals, the Henley-based brewer has launched Brakspear 2.5 per cent to spearhead a pre-Budget lobbying campaign aimed at lowering the rate of beer duty and discouraging cheap imports. In addition to the new beer, chief executive Jim Burrows has written to Chancellor Gordon Brown calling for a reduction on excise beer duty from £43.70 to £12.73 on a barrel of low-alcohol beer to bring the UK into line with its French neighbours. To re-enforce the point, Brakspear will be selling its latest addition throughout its tied estate at a reduced "French" price until Budget day.Joe Laventure, Brakspear's director of sales and marketing, said: "It translates at around £1.65 a pint which is 35 pence less than other Brakspear beers and about half as much as a pint of European lager. "It will be good for struggling rural pubs as it allows people to drink a little bit more and drive home."The move has been welcomed by both ends of the political spectrum with both Boris Johnson, the prospective MP for Henley-upon Thames and Labour's Jane Griffiths, chairperson of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Club and Labour MP for neighbouring constituency Reading East, pledging their support.While the majority of beers with alcohol content below the 2.5 per cent mark are regarded as both low in taste as well as strength, Laventure declared that Brakspear 2.5 per cent boasts the flavour of stronger beers. "We have used five separate malts and seven different hop additions to come up with a really flavoursome beer," he said. "During the blind taste tests, people were responding with answers of 3.8 and 3.9 when they were asked to guess the alcohol strength. They were amazed that it was so low."To accompany the initiative, Brakspear pubs will receive a comprehensive set of POS material aimed at raising the profile of the campaign, including petition-style postcards for customers to complete, which will be sent to Gordon Brown on Budget day.