08/30/2012 04:30 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

Tecate Michelada: Heineken Releasing The U.S.'s First Canned Michelada Drink

Introducing the Tecate Michelada, one of two new beers Heineken is launching in the U.S. (Heineken acquired Tecate in 2010.)

Technically, a michelada isn't a beer -- it's a beer cocktail. Popular in Mexico and Latin America, the drink is traditionally made with beer, lime juice, tomato juice and various spices and served cold.

The Tecate michelada will be sold in ready-to-drink cans. According to The Drinks Business website, it's the first of its kind sold in the U.S. and will be available in western and central regions of the country.

Reuters reports that the move comes as Heineken, the world's third-ranked beer maker, aims to rely less on Europe, where beer sales have struggled in the troubled economy. The wire service spoke with Heineken's USA's chief marketing officer, Lesya Lysyj, who added that many beer drinkers have switched to wine and spirits. Distilleries have been more creative than breweries, and Heineken in particular needs to step up its game:

"We've been an under-innovator in an under-innovated category," Lysyj said. "Our business was not on a growth trajectory over the last several years."

As Lysyj said, the U.S. beer market has been slipping in popularity. Recent figures have beer shipment volumes falling for three years straight through 2011. From May 2011 to 2012, beer volumes slipped .3 percent -- but spirits volumes increased 3.2 percent.

Heineken hopes that Tecate Michelada and another new beer, Amstel Wheat, will help boost sales. Amstel Wheat is Heineken's first U.S. line extension in more than ten years. It had been tested for about a year on draught. Amstel Wheat will be sold in bottles in the Northeast, Chicago and Minneapolis, after a year-long test of the beer on draught.



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