White Plains, N.Y.-based Heineken USA, which acquired import rights to the Strongbow Hard Cider brand in January 2013, is phasing out the original Strongbow Hard Cider recipe and replacing it with new Strongbow Gold Apple Hard Cider and Strongbow Honey & Apple Hard Cider. The new ciders will begin appearing at on- and off-premise accounts this month, says Alejandra de Obeso, Strongbow brand director. In turn, the original Strongbow hard cider is expected to be completely phased out at retail before the end of April, she notes. 


Strongbow Gold Apple offers a balanced, crisp apple taste that captures the sweet and tart notes of the Golden Delicious apple along with hints of Honeycrisp apple and pear, while Honey & Apple blends fresh apple taste with honey to create the new flavor, the company says. The inclusion of honey is new to the hard cider category and is expected to attract new consumers to the brand and the category, de Obeso adds. In a blind taste test conducted last year by Rogil Research, both men and women noted that they strongly preferred the new crisp, refreshing flavor profile of Strongbow Gold Apple, the company says.

“Strongbow is perfect for those occasions when you’re on a rooftop with friends on a warm, sunny day, kicking off your afternoon plans, and all that matters is spending time together,” said Charles Van Es, senior brand director for portfolio brands at Heineken USA, in a statement. “It offers a different kind of refreshment that sets the stage for a great time — day or night.”

Both Strongbow Gold Apple and Honey & Apple are gluten-free, contain 5 percent alcohol by volume, and offer less than 200 calories in each 11.2-ounce bottle. Additionally, the hard ciders feature new packaging, which sets them apart from the original Strongbow Hard Cider.

"The new Strongbow bottles stand out through their stylized, sleek design and the beautifully embossed detailing that showcases our brand heritage," de Obeso says. The new packaging is upscale, modern and emphasizes refreshment, she adds.

The launch will be supported through a mix of traditional and paid media, digital, public relations and experiential marketing. The brand also will carry out extensive sampling where legal with consumers of legal drinking age.