Top 5 Beer Gimmicks


Rob Symes

Big brewers spend big dollars to attract as many customers as possible. To stand out from the crowd, they regularly turn to innovation to give them an edge. They’re understandably reluctant to tinker with the recipes of their core lineup (beyond some flavoured variations), but everything is on the table beyond that. Here are five of the gimmicks that have been cooked up in recent years to increase sales.

Coors Light Frost Brewed Liner

The liners were designed to “lock in the refreshing frost brewed rocky mountain taste.” Cans are a relatively sealed environment, so a special liner is a little redundant, especially when all Coors seem to have done is turn the tab, lip and inside of the can blue.

Coors Light “Cold Activated” Bottles and Cans

 Coors is not the only brewery to try its hand at this gimmick, and some craft brewers have thrown their hat into the ring. The idea behind ‘cold activation’ seems sound – different kinds of beers should be enjoyed at different temperatures, and a way of indicating readiness removes the guesswork. Except when it doesn’t. Aluminum is an outstanding conductor of heat, so when the Rockies turn blue, you can safely assume that the liquid inside the can is not far behind. Unfortunately, glass is an insulator, so a colour changing label tells you very little except that the label itself is cold. Another strike against this gimmick is that lagers like Coors Light are designed to be drank really cold, and determining if something is really cold when you pick it up isn’t exactly rocket science.

 Coors Vented Wide Mouth Cans

 Coors again – they do seem to excel in this space. The vacuum within a can and occasional interruption in the pour wasn’t really a concern to anyone except college kids shotgunning beer. However, Coors have a legion of can drinkers and gamely did what they could to ensure that the transfer of liquid from can to mouth or glass was as smooth and quick as possible. They introduced an 8% wider tab and a small vent on the lid that could be popped down with a key. It worked to a degree, but still seemed like a pointless extra step. Plus, you were still drinking a Coors.

Miller Lite’s vortex bottle

 Subtle grooves on the inside neck of the bottle aim to channel Miller Lite into the glass with the aim to “create buzz and excitement and give consumers another reason to choose Miller”. This is all very good, but it was never immediately apparent how this buzz and excitement translated into anything that made Miller Lite taste better (though you probably need more than a fancy bottle for that). Plus, the idea of putting ribs on something to increase pleasure doesn’t really make you want to put it in your mouth.

Brew Dog’s Unique Coozies

More of a PR stunt than a mass market gimmick, Brew Dog’s comical game of ABV one-upmanship with a German brewery resulted in 12 bottles of a 55% brew, stuffed inside seven stoats, four squirrels and one hare. Selling at $765 US per bottle, it fortunately didn’t inspire many copy-cats (pardon the pun).