Saint Archer Gold debuts in four test markets

Saint Archer Gold, a new craft light lager, is making its debut this week in Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Indianapolis and Arizona.

Those four markets will serve as testing grounds for the Helles-style lager, which represents one of MillerCoors’ top candidates to grow its portfolio in the above-premium segment, one of the hottest spaces in beer.

“When beer drinkers in these test markets respond with the same enthusiasm we’re already seeing from distributors and retailers, it won’t be long before people elsewhere around the country can try this one-of-a-kind light craft lager,” wrote Paul Verdu, vice president of sales and marketing for MillerCoors craft and import arm Tenth and Blake, and Brad Nadal, president of Saint Archer, in a note sent to employees this week.

The light-bodied lager, which checks in at 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving, is aimed at active, health-conscious 25- to 44-year-old men and women. The beer represents the San Diego craft brewery’s answer to growing demand for the approachable, sessionable beers that its drinkers like, Nadal said.

Made with noble hops, Saint Archer Gold is crisp and easy drinking, but with a more hop-forward flavor profile than competitors in the ultra-light segment, such as Michelob Ultra and Corona Premier. Its calorie and carb counts, meanwhile, fall in line with those beers, as well as select American light lagers such as Miller Lite.

Saint Archer Gold is a beer “that delivers on the expectations people have when they choose an above premium light lager,” Verdu and Nadal wrote. “It’s under a brand with more authenticity in the active lifestyle space than any of its competitors. And it’s from a brewery with a track record of making outstanding sessionable craft beers.”

Gold will be the first Saint Archer entrant in three of its four test markets — Austin, Indianapolis and Charlotte. The Saint Archer portfolio has been available in Arizona since late 2016.

MillerCoors is supporting the brand with a full media package on par in those markets as it would be in a national launch. It will air television spots, and have a digital and social campaign, outdoor advertising, sampling events and a presence at MillerCoors-sponsored venues and events.

The brand has secured widespread distribution in each market, including displays and sampling support in grocery and convenience chains.

Saint Archer Gold is among a number of lower-calorie light lagers hitting the market from craft brewers as they seek a piece of the market that generates more than 85 percent of the industry’s volume.

The beer began as a lower-calorie, lower-carb German-style Helles lager brewed on a five-barrel system and served only in the brewery’s San Diego taproom.

After sales surpassed expectations and consumer feedback came in overwhelmingly positive, Saint Archer’s brewers in southern California teamed up with MillerCoors brewers in Golden, Colo., and Milwaukee, to develop Saint Archer Gold.

“Our team in San Diego deserves a lot of credit for staying true to Saint Archer Gold’s genesis, even as we scaled up,” Nadal said. “We’re confident we have a winner here, and we can’t wait for others to get the chance to try it.”