MillerCoors Behind the Beer

Anheuser-Busch adding new hard iced teas under Best Damn banner

Anheuser-Busch appears to be adding two new hard teas to its Best Damn lineup, according to labels submitted to federal regulators.

Best Damn Hard Tea Original and Best Damn Hard Tea Peach were each approved by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau on the final day of November, though it’s unclear when or if the drinks may be available for consumers.

According to the labels, both beverages will be available in single-serve 25-ounce cans as well as 12-ounce bottles and are at 5.5 percent alcohol-by-volume, in line with other beverages in its Best Damn hard lineup, which includes a Root Beer, Apple Ale, Cream Soda and Sweat Tea.

AB debuted the Best Damn brand in late 2014, and it has yet to gain much traction in the flavored-malt beverage market, according to Nielsen data.

Sales of all products in the Best Damn franchise are down 60 percent on a 58.7 percent drop in volume year-to-date through Dec. 2, per Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data. Its top-selling product is still its Root Beer, which has more than double the sales of its next-most-popular item, Cream Soda, the data show.

Best Damn Hard Sweet Tea, which was released this year in 12-ounce bottles and 16-ounce and 25-ounce cans, has performed best in its largest-format cans, per Nielsen.

An Anheuser-Busch spokesman in New York declined to comment.

The Best Damn Hard Teas appear to be coming to market amid a hard-tea boom in the flavored malt beverage space; the non-carbonated drinks were among the most-prevalent new products on display at the National Beer Wholesalers Association convention in Las Vegas this fall.

Among the earliest entrants was Boston Beer Co.’s Twisted Tea, which launched in 2000 as BoDeans Twisted Tea. The brand has since dropped the “BoDeans” part of its name and continues to roll out new flavors and packaging. It has since been joined by competitors big and small, ranging from Mike’s Hard and MillerCoors to upstarts like the Canadian brand Hey Y’all Southern Tea and Ocean City, Maryland’s Hoop Tea.

Four Loko-owner Phusion Projects over the summer launched its own hard-tea line called John Daly’s Grip It & Sip It and MillerCoors plans early next year to nationally debut its new hard iced tea/lemonade mix called Arnold Palmer Spiked, which is part of the company’s blueprint to return to growth.