More beer from Brazil

Labatt Breweries is rolling out its own Brazilian import.

Molson Coors Brewing Co. couldn't get anyone to drink its Brazilian import, but that hasn't stopped Labatt Breweries of Canada from rolling out its own version this spring. Now available from Quebec westward, Brahma supposedly fills a gaping hole in Labatt's lineup: an “international player in clear glass,” says spokesman James Villeneuve. Apparently, beers are no longer categorized by style or price, but by bottle colour and location. That's understandable, since Brahma doesn't exactly offer an exotic taste explosion. Indeed, Labatt seems proud that Brahma, the world's sixth-best-selling beer, has a “clean flavour” and “no aftertaste.” In that respect, Brahma isn't much different than A Marca Bavaria, Molson's Brazilian experiment, but the similarities end there.

Molson tried selling A Marca Bavaria using a tacky soft-porn television ad that boasted “there are no sins below the equator.” It also positioned the beer as “super premium,” even though it was clearly neither of those things — especially in Brazil, where it is considered a poor man's brew. Of course, this is the same company that believes its own Canadian brand deserves the “premium” designation.

With Brahma, which is broadly targeted at a younger market, the legendary Brazilian sex appeal is still there — implied in the curvy hourglass bottle — but Labatt is taking a more low-key approach, epitomized by the use of comparatively staid billboard ads and a series of launch parties that emphasize Brazil's ginga lifestyle, which loosely translates as “effortless flair.”

“It's very much reflective of life in Brazil as opposed to life on a quarter mile of a Brazilian beach,” says Villeneuve. That authenticity, Villeneuve says, will help Brahma succeed where A Marca Bavaria failed. Brahma — one of InBev's four global brands, along with Stella Artois, Beck's and Leffe — will also soon be the only Brazilian beer available in Canada, as A Marca Bavaria has been discontinued. Labatt can only hope for a sunnier outcome for Brahma.