Thursday, March 11, 2010

Failed Beer Concepts: Lipton Instant Beer (1969)

The growing popularity of General Foods’ Tang instant orange drink in the late 1960s - fueled in part by its link with NASA's space program - had marketers at Monolever, owners of the Lipton Tea brand, scrambling to respond. Aiming to develop a new beverage to compete with Tang, Lipton chemists embarked on a crash R&D program. After months of false starts, they finally synthesized a powdered beer mix made from malted barley, chicory, beetroot, toasted rice, rye, and tricalcium phosphate (to prevent caking).

Following the Apollo 11 moon landing in July of 1969, Tang sales skyrocketed, cutting further into Lipton’s U.S. market. Frantic, top brass at Monolever HQ in Rotterdam demanded that Lipton rush the instant beer to consumers. Unfortunately, the formula had not yet been perfected, and it smelled and tasted awful. After a disastrous test-market in Syracuse, New York and Little Rock, Arkansas, Lipton Instant Beer Mix was quietly killed.

Thanks to N.B. Sanders for the pointer.

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