MillerCoors is making sure that whether it’s a quicker buzz at the bar or a zip down the freeway that you’re in on the latest addition to their beer business: a 1 percent increase in the ABV of Milwaukee’s Best Ice brews. Almost all cheap, commercial beers (including Natural Ice and Keystone Ice) rest at a Goldilocks ABV of 5.9 percent. Other domestic beers such as Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Michelob, and Miller hover between 4.1 and 5 percent. At 6.9 percent, Milwaukee’s Best Ice is clearly upping the ante — and they are letting everyone know.
The commercial beer giant has launched an ad campaign with billboards along freeways and interstates touting the boozy boost in its popular American Adjunct Lager-style beer. And not many folks in the beer industry are too impressed seeing alcohol content becoming a main selling point. “I can’t recall ever seeing anybody advertising (the strength of a beer) and saying now that’s the feature of this brand that we’re featuring,” Eric Shepard, executive editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights, said in a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper. “It’s not standard procedure.”
Other reactions accusing the ads of being detrimental to the safe consumption of the beer are coming from clergy members, attorneys, economists, and locals of Milwaukee (where the beer is brewed), as well as professors and experts in community health. "Clearly they are promoting this beverage based on its higher alcohol content,” Traci Toomey, a professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota, said in the same story from the Journal Sentinel via email. "The higher the alcohol content, the more quickly people become impaired and the more likely a community/state will experience and pay for more alcohol-related problems."
Meanwhile, representatives from MillerCoors are defending the ads as a means to educate consumers. Shortly after the announcement of the ABV increase, the company released a statement online that said it is "committed to leading the industry in transparency so that our consumers can make fully informed choices."