ABI’s Natty Rush to take on Steel Reserve Alloy Series

Anheuser-Busch InBev plans to release this fall a new competitor to MillerCoors’ Steel Reserve Alloy Series, a high-gravity flavored malt beverage called Natty Rush.

The brand will make a national play with an 8 percent alcohol by volume version that will be sold in 25-oz. cans and begin sales to retailers starting Oct. 29, Beer Marketer’s Insights (subscription required) reported. A stronger version, called Natty Rush + clocks in at 12 percent ABV and will reportedly debut around the same time in select test markets.

AB-InBev is positioning the brand as a “value FMB program” – positioning it to compete, as BMI notes, with the Steel Reserve Alloy Series. MillerCoors introduced the lineup to bring flavor diversity to the Economy segment, and the family’s volume performance is up 2.4 percent year-to-date, according to Nielsen data through July 29. That’s better than total FMB volume performance of down 2 percent during the same period.

The Steel Reserve Alloy Series has a 4.1 share of FMBs, up 0.2 percentage points from the prior-year period, according to Nielsen.

The introduction of Natty Rush comes as AB-InBev’s flagship FMB offering, its Bud Light-aligned Lime-a-Rita franchise, continues to lose volume and share. Case volume in that franchise is down 16.6 percent through July 29, according to the Nielsen report, which covers all-outlet chain data. AB-InBev also late last year discontinued Mixxtail, a cocktail-inspired Bud Light line extension that lasted on the market fewer than two years.

Natty Rush is part of ABI’s Natural brand family. At least three variations of its 8-percent version are planned: Watermelon Smash, Hurricane Punch and Blue Frostbite, according to labels submitted to the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The higher-octane version comes in the same flavors, along with a fourth called Grape Smash.