Madri Excepcional boosts Molson Coors’ premium push

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Madri Excepcional launches in Canada this month. Pic: Molson Coors
Madri Excepcional launches in Canada this month. Pic: Molson Coors

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Molson Coors has big plans for Madri Excepcional: a Spanish-style lager that’s growing fast in the UK and will now launch in North America. Meanwhile, the company is updating the Blue Moon brand to help it reach its potential; as well as debuting further flavor innovations outside of beer.

Premium products helped the US beer giant post a strong FY2023 this week, with net sales up 9.3% and the company bullish about the prospects of its company and the beer category in general.

And the higher end of the portfolio has 'a lot of runway' for 2024, says the company: not least with the potential of newcomer Madri Excepcional, flavor innovations such as Simply Spiked, and plans to help craft-style beer Blue Moon reach its potential.

Big potential: Madri Excepcional

While its 'power portfolio' of brands such as Coors Light, Miller Light, Coors Banquet, Molson Canadian, Carling and Ožujsko remain the core of its business, Molson Coors is also ‘aggressively premiumizing’​ its portfolio.

It's already increased net sales revenue for its above premium portfolio from 23% in 2019 to 27% this year, and wants to see one third of its revenues come from this 'above premium' segment: a category that includes craft and import brands such as Blue Moon Belgian White, Staropramen and Madri Excepcional.

In fact, 52% of revenues in Q4 2023 in EMEA and APAC came from the above premium sector.

A strong player in this category is Madri Excepcional: a Spanish-style lager which launched in the UK during the pandemic and which the company now plans to scale globally.

Having launched in 2020, Madri Excepcional became the second largest above premium lager in the on-premise and the third-largest world beer in the UK overall in Q3, 2023.

The 4.6% ABV lager was developed with Spanish brewery Cerveza La Sagra and is currently available in the UK, Ireland and Spain.

The brand is expanding to other European markets: but also will make its North America debut in Canada this week.

In Canada, the beer hopes to win favor with urban trendsetters who are increasingly picking up European-style beers (European beers are outpacing the growth of total beer in Canada by 15%, according to Beer Canada).

“In Q4, Madri was the fastest growing major beer brand in the UK, both by volume and value sales. Madri's volumes grew by 80% for the full year, easily surpassing 1 million hectoliters," said CEO Gavin Hattersley.

"Growth like this does not come easy in the beer space, especially in less than 3 years, for a new to the world brand that launched during a pandemic.

“We have some expansion with Madri, so it should not be a surprise that we have ambitions to scale this brand and expand its global footprint.

“Last month, we announced that we are launching in Canada, and product is rolling out on to shelves starting this week. We plan to grow this brand thoughtfully in markets where the opportunity and desire are clear.

"We are starting with Canada and select European markets this year. So that is our focus right now, and we will consider future expansion when the time is right.”

A craft conundrum: Blue Moon

A similar above premium beer bet, Blue Moon, has made a lot of noise over the last decade as a craft-style beer brand in the booming US craft beer market. But the brand has faced the same struggles as the wider craft market in 2023 (a category under pressure​ from inflation and increased competition from drinks such as hard seltzers).

Given the company's focus on premiumization, a priority is to get that back to its full potential.

“We had a challenging year with Blue Moon in 2023," admitted Hattersley. "It hasn't been immune from the challenges that exist in the craft beer market as a whole. On the positive side, we are seeing some signs of improvement in the on-premise, where Blue Moon is actually growing share now based on the last 4-week Nielsen CGA data. [But] obviously, we are not satisfied with the brand's performance. 

Molson Coors has  ‘big plans' to turn the brand around in 2024.


That includes the launch of two new products: the repositioned Blue Moon Light (previously Blue Moon Light Sky) and the recent launch of Blue Moon Non-Alcoholic​.

“We've got redesigned packaging that will hit shelves in March," said Hattersley. "And it's going to unite the whole Blue Moon family, which was not the case before where each of the Blue Moon brands almost felt like a different brand, and that's going to be is rectified in the new packaging.

“We've got a new campaign, which is also going to launch in March. We've got strong media pressure with TV and digital and retail. And then to round it out, we've got two innovations, which we believe are going to bring more drinkers to the brand in 2024, provide a halo effect to Blue Moon itself.​”

Flavor innovations

Also supporting above premium growth are innovations outside of beer: such as the Simply Spiked brand and upcoming launch Happy Thursday.

Following its partnership with The Coca-Cola Company on Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, Molson Coors and the soft drinks giant started developing the Simply Spiked line​ (‘inspired by Simply juices’) to push further into the full-flavor alcohol segment.

“In terms of our flavor portfolio, Simply Spiked continues to be a growth engine for our business and the industry," said Hattersley. "This brand more than doubled its volume in the U.S. in 2023, and Simply Spiked Peach was the #1 innovation by volume and dollar sales in the grocery channel. Simply Spiked is also gaining ground in Canada, we had launched nationally less than a year ago.”

Molson Coors wants to continue its growth in flavor with an approach that's 'focused and deliberate'.

The company is now launching Simply Spiked Limeade in the US this month. And in March, Molson Coors will debut new brand Happy Thursday in the US: a line of spiked refreshers targeted at the 21-26 year old consumer group.

The spiked refresher is 4.4% ABV and uncarbonated: and will come come in Strawberry, Pineapple Starfruit, Black Cherry and Mango Passionfruit flavors.


Refreshers are trending on social media platforms: where Gen Zers are going so far as to whisk away carbonation in their drinks with milk frothers to make bubble-free beverages.

The new brand has a mix of familiar flavors and unique combinations, and the brand represents a ‘trend straight from social media that we’ve been able to translate to the beyond beer aisle’.

Molson Coors hopes the new brand can follow the footsteps of hard seltzers: making the most of the desire for strong flavors.