Anheuser-Busch InBev has stated there are no plans for its new upmarket Stella Artois variant Stella Artois Black to go into bottles or the off-trade.
The brewer said that the 4.9% ABV golden lager would be available only in hand-selected pubs and bars. It would remain a
limited-volume beer sold through "100s not 1,000s" of pubs and bars, said marketing director James Watson.
All of the beer for Stella Artois Black, brewed with Saaz hops, coriander seeds and orange peel, will be brewed in the company's Leuven brewery in Belgium and imported into the UK.
It is hoped the variant will attract drinkers from world beer and other premium lagers and, as the brewer has found with its Stella Artois 4% variant, that there will be a positive sales effect on the parent brand.
AB InBev is supporting the launch with bespoke training for outlets stocking the brand and a unique in-outlet campaign called the Night Chauffeur, which sees consumers driven off in a 1960s Citroën DS to experience "the mysterious and intriguing world of the Night Chauffeur".
Watson said: "Actors will accompany consumers on a 20-minute drive around the city and back in time to the 1960s.
In keeping with our advertising strategy the feel is film noir, full of femmes fatales, secret
exchanges and unanswered questions."
He defended the brewer's decision to name the beer Stella Artois Black even though it isn't a black lager.
"Consumers tell us they don't find it confusing but take it to denote a more premium experience, as it does in other categories," Watson said.