Heineken UK has announced that from now on there will only be one version of its Amstel brand available in the UK.
The bottled version of Amstel, five per cent ABV, is set to be withdrawn from the market following the sale of Bulmers, the UK distributor of the brand, to Scottish & Newcastle.
Bulmers' distribution contract for Amstel still had several years to run but in light of a change of ownership clause, the Dutch brewer agreed on a deal with the cider maker to end the agreement.
The decision to scrap the higher strength version is intended to reduce consumer confusion and stop drinkers mistaking the draught (4.1 per cent ABV) for the packaged Amstel.
All Amstel will now be brewed in Holland and the UK focus will be entirely on the draught version, introduced last year following the demise of Heineken Cold Filtered. Heineken confirmed that it is also looking at introducing the 4.1 per cent Amstel in bottle.
"The Amstel brand benefits from a hugely positive awareness among drinkers in the UK, thanks in part to their enjoyment of it on holiday in countries like Greece and Spain, as well as the UEFA Champions League sponsorship and Amstel's strong and popular Amsterdam heritage," said Simon Green, senior brand manager for Amstel in the UK.
"Draught 4.1 per cent ABV Amstel, imported from Amsterdam, has tapped a market among drinkers who want to trade up to premium quality, without the traditional premium strength."
At the same time, Heineken UK is announcing that its UK sales-force will be taking responsibility for selling Amstel to all on-trade national accounts.
Turnkey, an independent on-trade sales company, will continue to manage sales to top-end independent outlets.
"The Heineken UK sales force has established relationships with the national on-trade accounts through selling the Heineken brand, and it makes sense for them to take on the same role for Amstel," added Mr Green.
"We are very excited about the potential for Amstel in the UK, and are planning a long-term successful future for Europe's second biggest beer in Europe's second biggest beer market."