MillerCoors opens up testing on new small-batch beer


[3/21 Update: Heard this was a good beer BUT it lost to Keystone Ice at the GABF!]

(Golden, CO) – I may never get to say this again. Today, I was scooped by the Wall Street Journal.

In mid-February, a label approval came through for a new beer called, “Coors Batch 19 Pre-Prohibition Style Lager.” I dug up some information and found out that Coors began testing this beer this past fall (contrary to what the WSJ reports). A Coors representative working on the project said that it was basically a non-story and other sources backed that up.

Flash forward to St. Patrick’s Day, and what rolls across my Twitter stream but an article posted by @BeerWars about Coors Batch 19 (and some other random tidbits from the mega-brewery). Fool me once . . .

Here is what the WSJ is reporting:

“Brewing giant MillerCoors LLC plans to test-market a new beer called Batch 19, which is based on a pre-Prohibition recipe, as part of several initiatives aimed at rejuvenating sales in the sluggish U.S. market.

MillerCoors will start selling the new brew next month in draft in bars and restaurants in Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco and Washington, said Peter Swinburn, chief executive of Molson Coors Brewing Co., which co-owns MillerCoors.

Mr. Swinburn said in an interview that Batch 19—named for the year, 1919, before Prohibition began—is designed to attract consumers looking for ‘a true, authentic, original beer.’ He said Keith Villa, master brewer at MillerCoors, found a recipe in the archives of Coors Brewing Co. in Golden, Colo., that was used to make one of its beers before alcohol was banned in the U.S. for a 13-year period. ‘It’s the beer that got beer banned,’ Mr. Swinburn joked.”

In light of a spirited discussion on Beer Advocate regarding immoral and illegal tactics being used by large brewers (allegedly), craft brewers have reason to take note of this. Some of the comments mention distributors playing on craft beer’s success to get more tap handles and shelf space only to swap in macro brands later. I’ve heard that Batch 19 is actually a pretty decent beer and not just slapping a fancy label on a bland Coors product but only time will tell whether this is a real play at making something “craft” or just a tactic.

Over 700 reviewers have poured in ratings for Budweiser American Ale at both BeerAdvocate and RateBeer. Will craft beer drinkers continue to test what AB-InBev and MillerCoors are delivering in the name of “craft” or will they put that money into craft breweries’ pockets?

This could get interesting.

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10 thoughts on “MillerCoors opens up testing on new small-batch beer

  1. Batch 19 based on the year 1919? I strongly do NOT believe it came out of Coors’ archives. State-wide Prohibition in the state of Colorado started in 1916. It just goes to show you how much (or lack of) research MillerCoors marketing performs into their product history.

  2. Pingback: Big brewing “Craft”

  3. Lived in Milw AML….played kissing games under the giant Pabst sign in the late ’40s….BUT the big comparison is how “Bat19” (what we call it here) will compare to “Wisconsin Amber” from Capitol Breweries in Madison, WI. which is the best, solid strength brew made today..HooHah…We will conduct a blind taste test…..blindfolded hotties will sip three brews, including the two mentioned and we’ll add a third..any suggestions as to what to use?
    NOTE: If “Bat19” is really that good, the Hotties will want to keep their blindfolds on & take a “tickle test” (or “test-tickle” if you prefer).

  4. I was in Milwaukee visting friends and we took a tour at the Old Pabst Blue Ribbon plant. I had the pleasure of having my first Batch 19. One led to another so I was glad that one of my friends didn’t drink because he was driving. I ended up with his share.I have been a long time drinker of Coors beer (1964). I believe this one is a winner and hope it hits the market place soon not just on tap at a limited amount of bars. Sure wish they were testing it in Colorado. Bring it on.

  5. I work for a MillerCoors distributor. A 6-pack was brought to the drivers room of this particular Batch 19 for us to try. I was in and out early from a short route and missed it, but was told it was very good. I prefer Narragansett, but when we get Batch 19 en masse for distribution I’ll try some. Still haven’t bought a case of the 1964 retro Schlitz I walk by 10x a day.

  6. Batch 19 only comes in kegs u dumby! It is delicious though. Would love to know how to get a keg and which bars it is in!

  7. I got the opportunity to sample Batch 19 when my cousins and I visited the Coors Plant in Colorado in the summer of 2010. I’ve never even liked beer before that… it was really good. I hope it reaches the Toronto market. I really loved it!

  8. I know it’s a few years late as far as the story goes, but as I’ve just sampled some myself (and was in such belief that it was a product of Miller/Coors that I was on the internet searching for confirmation, which led me here), I have to say it’s actually pretty good stuff. You won’t likely be crying tears of joy and hearing angelic harps as you drink the stuff, but you won’t find yourself pouring it down the drain and lamenting wasted money, either.

    Also, as a note to Skyview up there: It was not uncommon for prohibition to ban only the sale and consumption of alcohol, NOT its manufacture. And I’ve found no evidence to suggest Colorado was any different.


  10. You can get the facts right or you can get them wrong.. You can do the research, or not! I am a craft brew drinker! I don’t drink the “big brands” I don’t like beer flavored water!! I will say this…. I like Batch19… !!!!!! I am looking for a keg right now!

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