Bud 66 has an abv of 4%, but James Watson, marketing director for Budweiser in western Europe, said alcoholic strength had not been a major driver of the launch.
A-B Inbev has already launched 4% abv versions of its Beck’s and Stella Artois brands in the UK market.
Watson said: “The starting point is that younger drinkers aren’t engaging in the beer category. It’s aimed at acting as a catalyst to excitement in beer.”?The Bud 66 name was derived from the number of the trial brew eventually chosen for the launch.
Watson added: “It helps that 66 has some associations with classic US imagery, but the fact is it was simply a batch number when we were developing the beer over the past 14 months.”?A pre-merger Anheuser-Busch launched Bud Silver, a canned 4.1% version of Budweiser, in the UK in 2006, but it was withdrawn the following year.
Watson said Bud 66 and Bud Silver were like “apples and pears”.
“Bud Silver was a completely different proposition,” he said.
The Bud 66 launch will be supported by a “multi-million” marketing programme, including TV and social media.
A-B Inbev has also launched a lightweight 28.4cl bottle for Stella Artois.
The launch is backed by an on-pack promotion giving consumers the chance to win £100,000 for themselves or an “eco charity” of their choice.
A press and poster campaign for the pack will launch in May.