09:16 17 October 2008
InBev have declared that their notoriously potent Belgium lager Stella is to be brewed to an even higher strength of 5.5% ABV.
The statement, which was made on October 15 has sent shivers down the spine of health charities and shocked safety groups, who fear that this new, even more intoxicating pint can only lead to more trouble on British streets.
Combined with increasingly low priced offers on alcohol in UK supermarkets, it seems that few steps are being taken to lower drunken crime in Britain.
Alcohol by volume
Popularly nicknamed 'wife beater', Stella has already been labelled as the drink of alcoholics and wasters by society and the popular press.
Despite the 'reassuringly expensive' tagline and sophisticated imagery that advertisers have tried to force onto Stella's Artois beverage, the brand is tied to scenes of lewdness and violence.
This is due to what is already considered an already excessive alcohol by volume level of 5.3% and the effect that has been seen to have on weekend revellers during the drink's popularity peak of lad culture in the late 90s, early 00s.
This ABV is often a whole 1.0% stronger than other popular brands of lager, including Fosters and Carling and up to 2.0% stronger than the majority of popular bitters such as Tetley's and John Smith's.
It had been believed that Stella were both aware and trying to rectify this problem of image and excessive consumption of their product, having stated previously that sales had fallen steeply of late due to these associations.
Stella had even released a 4% variety of their lager, following moves taken by the lager brand Becks in an attempt to improve their image. But now this must be thrown into doubt.
In what seems like a 180 degree turn in policy Stella's parent company InBev do intend to continue with the release of this new line, Stella Black. They state that their reasoning is to offer an "aspirational high-strength lager".
A public uproar
Gordon Macmillian of consumer website BrandRepublic.com has been one of the first to speak out against the move.
He said: "Who aspires to have that much alcohol in their beers apart from down and outs and drunks? Stella Black sounds like a total disaster of an idea."
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