By Jimmy Woulfe, Mid-West Correspondent
A STOUT war erupted yesterday as Diageo announced it is to test market a new low-alcohol Guinness in Limerick.
Beamish & Crawford said they were concerned the move will undermine and damage the stout category as a whole.
Guinness Mid-Strength will have a 2.8% alcohol content compared to 4.8% in Guinness draught.
Diageo have told Limerick publicans: "Our unique brewing process has enabled us to produce the first lower alcohol beer on the market to offer premium taste, quality and true beer credibility.
"It offers consumers a positive choice from brand Guinness to moderate their alcohol intake, without compromising on taste or quality."
But Beamish & Crawford fear the move could damage the stout category as a whole. The brewers’ spokesperson said they were not quite sure what Diageo were up to in launching a half strength stout.
She said: "It seems to fly in the face of the concept of a true pint of stout, seems to suggest that they are not happy with their own product, and it seems ludicrous in the light of previous attempts to launch lighter versions, colder version and bigger versions of their own stout product."
She said the Beamish & Crawford stout formula had been perfected over decades and they did not see any need to tamper with perfection.
"We are however, concerned that this latest attempt by Diageo will yet again undermine and damage the stout category as a whole."
A spokesperson for Diageo said they had decided to introduce the new product following market research into lower alcohol stout.
The Limerick test will continue for six months after which they will assess the situation.
Limerick publicans leader David Hickey, a Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) national executive representative, said they have been in talks with Guinness about the new stout and it will be available from next month.
Publicans in Limerick have been given a detailed briefing on the new product and it is believed the move has been welcomed in the trade.