From Billy Dee to Snoop Dogg

Though the possible ire of government regulators looms large, Pabst Brewing Company will introduce a new fruit flavored 12 percent ABV drink called Blast by Colt 45. The debut of Blast on April 5 will give Pabst an entry into the fast growing and profitable category of fruit infused, high alcohol malt beverages – the same category that has been savaged by regulators and media alike due to their use of caffeine.

Looking to revitalize the Colt 45 brand after a decade-long decline in sales, Pabst designed Blast to appeal to the popular tastes of young, urban consumers. Blast will come in grape, strawberry lemonade, raspberry watermelon and blueberry pomegranate flavors, each packaged with similarly colored labeling. Additionally, the company will spend millions of dollars to launch the beverage with advertising in hip-hop music magazines like Vibe and recently partnered with a rap music icon to endorse the product.

In what was reported to be a long term marketing agreement, rapper Snoop Dogg will promote Blast during live appearances and via the micro blogging website, Twitter. In a recent tweet, he encouraged his nearly 2.9 million followers to “follow @blastbycolt they got that good cumn at ya”. Certainly, times have changed since the 1980’s when in television commercials for the beer, actor Billy Dee Williams smoothly impressed upon viewers to simply, “Never run out of Colt 45.”

Much like its competitors, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s Tilt and United Brands Co.’s Joose, Blast will be sold in 23.5-ounce cans for about $2.50 and also in six packs of seven-ounce bottles for around $7. While the FDA has issued a national ban on the combination of caffeine with flavored malt beverages, there are still ongoing regulatory issues at the state level. In Vermont, for example, a bill exists that would “prohibit the sale of flavored malt beverages in containers exceeding 12 fluid ounces.”