The raging success of Michelob Ultra continues to transform the beer world as we know it, as breweries both craft and “macro” scramble to play catch-up. That success has resulted in any number of low-cal, low-carb craft light lager clones—a separate movement from the concurrent return of low-cal session IPA—but none of those craft releases have had half the potential to be so big as the one announced today. Straight out of Pottsville, PA, the country’s largest craft brewery, D.G. Yuengling & Son, has revealed “FLIGHT by Yuengling,” its own clear response to the Mich Ultra phenomenon. Packing the exact same important numbers—95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbs per bottle—it’s impossible to miss where the brewery is aiming. Still, this is a very significant release in terms of scale alone, as Yuengling is both the country’s oldest and largest independent brewery, selling more beer in its 22-state distribution network than someone like Boston Beer Co. or Sierra Nevada does in the entire country.
Yuengling refers to FLIGHT (always capitalized, apparently) as “a new upscale light beer designed to elevate the drinking experience for consumers who want more from their beer.” It’s also being referred to as the “Next Generation of Light Beer,” which will “bring even better taste, with low carbs and calories, to the refreshment category.”
FLIGHT is pretty clearly being aimed at women in particular, with Yuengling’s marketing crediting its development to the 6th generation of the Yuengling family, aka “the four Yuengling sisters, Jen, Wendy, Debbie and Sheryl.” The marketing evokes the expectation that FLIGHT customers are active and fit, much as the marketing for Mich Ultra has done, saying that FLIGHT is “perfect for celebrating after a workout or toasting to your latest accomplishment.” Additionally, the FLIGHT brand ambassadors will both be women: American pro soccer star Rose Lavelle, and country singer-songwriter Lauren Alaina, who will both be making appearances at meet-and-greets to promote the brand. It seems clear that the brewery sees women as a potentially untapped demographic here.
As for how FLIGHT compares to the classic Yuengling Traditional Lager (an upcoming entry in our Flagship February series of daily essays), it seems safe to say it will be less malt driven, but we haven’t yet had an opportunity to sample it for ourselves. We’ll likely bring you a full review, once we do.
FLIGHT will be available in 12 oz bottles across the entirety of Yuengling’s 22-state footprint starting in March, with draft in “select markets in the second half of the year.” Will this brand be able to exploit a thirst for low-cal, low-carb lager that hasn’t already been reached by the likes of Michelob Ultra? Are there enough craft beer fans out there who want this sort of beer, but prefer to get it from a brewery that falls under the Brewers Association “craft brewer” definition? We’ll see soon enough if Yuengling’s gamble pays off.