Is Anheuser-Busch prepping a new FMB line?

Anheuser-Busch appears to be preparing to release a new line of flavored malt beverages called Hard & Simple, according to a label approved by federal regulators in late October.

Hard & Simple Cold Brew, an 8% alcohol-by-volume FMB, appears to be a take on hard coffee, with a two-toned brown label festooned with pixelated images of coffee beans and ice cubes. Packaged in 16-ounce cans, Hard & Simple Cold Brew is described on its label as a malt beverage with natural flavors and artificial color.

The cans carry the tagline “simple drinks made hard,” which appear to indicate that the drink may be part of a line for the brewer, which told Beer Business Daily this week it is investing “well over $100 million” in 2020 on products outside traditional beer, such as hard seltzer and wine and spirits brands.

AB told Beer Business Daily it plans to triple its investment in categories beyond beer, with a “lion’s share” of that going to hard seltzers, including Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer (which will be rebranded and relaunched with new flavors under BONV!V), Natural Light Seltzer and the recently unveiled Bud Light Seltzer. Anheuser-Busch also has set up a stand-alone business unit to handle such products called Beyond Beer, which will handle its wine and spirits-leaning brands such as Cutwater Spirits and Babe Wine, Beer Business Daily reported.

An Anheuser-Busch spokesman declined to comment.

Like other established brewers, including Molson Coors, Pabst, Boston Beer, Constellation Brands and others, Anheuser-Busch is reworking its portfolio amid fundamental shifts in consumer demand.

In addition to its purchases of Spiked Seltzer (now known as Bon & Viv), Cutwater Spirits and Babe Wine, A-B has branched off Bud Light and Natural Light with a series of flavored line extensions, including Bud Light Orange, Bud Light Lemon Tea, Natural Light’s Naturdays and the line of seltzers; and a line of widely distributed Spiked Agua Frescas from its Los Angeles craft brewery Golden Road.

It also has released a series of line extensions called Reserve off its flagship Budweiser brand and this fall began pouring more advertising dollars behind higher-ABV Bud Light Platinum. Anheuser-Busch also has filed for labels of a new non-alcohol beer called Budweiser Zero and another Budweiser line extension called Budweiser Nitro Reserve Gold.

Hard & Simple Cold Brew, meanwhile, would be the third hard coffee introduced by a major brewer if it comes to market. Pabst this year began selling a hard cold brew coffee and MillerCoors is partnering with coffee company La Colombe Coffee Roasters to test a hard cold brew coffee in three markets.